If you were to ask a long-time Abu Dhabi resident "Where is your favorite Lebanese?", you just might hear "Al Mayass!". And there are multiple Lebanese families in my circle of contacts that take their out-of-town visitors there, every time. Al Mayass, while well-known amongst certain crowds, is still fairly under the radar. It is literally hidden in the back of the Sheraton, and I mean all the way back behind the pool. But the long walk is totally worth it. When you finally arrive, the feeling is quaint and cozy. You are greeted with a smile and seated at a simple wooden table with a white tablecloth and comfortable chairs. You feel like it is your Lebanese grandmother's house and you can smell the chicken grilling over hot charcoals and the onions frying in the pan.
Hot pita bread and fresh zaatar salad are served quickly after you sit and replenished generously. As you read over the extensive menu of salads, cold and hot mezze and grilled platters, you will notice not only the large offering of Lebanese specialties but a few Armenian ones as well.
There are roughly 5 different hummus dishes to choose from and about the same choice of eggplant moutabal. The hummus with fried pine nuts comes more than generously scattered with them, while another of my favorite dishes was the dandelion greens. So simple, yet perfectly tender, rich with olive oil and finished with a squeeze of lemon.
The wine list is simple, yet with plenty of good options, even if some bottles might feel a bit more pricey than you would hope. Service is super friendly and obliged to make your meal better in any way possible. The restaurant was filled with more Arabic patrons than Westerners, which I take for a good sign of its authenticity, yet the staff are happy to explain any dishes that might be unfamiliar. There were tables of large groups and tables of two, kids and elderly- just like your family home. I already wish I was going back tonight.
Sheraton Hotel & Resort,
Corniche Road, Al Markaziya, Abu Dhabi
Bookings are highly recommended