I love an adventure and "Fell Back Alone" listening to World Party, staying on the train to Bay Ridge and Tanoreen - a Michelin-rated bib gourmand Middle Eastern restaurant. It won't disappoint unless you can't handle red wine, heavy spices and the next table's raw kibbeh.
I had a cumin-spiced lentil-butternut squash spread, "a Gaza specialty," and mhammara, a red pepper, walnut, spicy spread. (It's similar to the Turkish salsa-like appetizer spread esme, but not as chunky nor sweet-sour.)
Accompaniment: za'atar toasted flatbread. And a nice French Pinot Noir (Cote du Rhône).
Innovative Palestinian Chef Rawia Bishara, with recipes influenced by the Mediterranean and Middle East, is a well-kept New York foodie secret. Her new cookbook is number two to Ottolenghi's latest cookbook. Check out "Olives, Lemons & Za'atar,"a beautiful cookbook. Only complaint: the index doesn't cross reference traditional names, which is what you find on restaurant menus.
Tanoreen's menu and website has Bishara's interesting story: she started the restaurant later in life, in the 1990s, with inspiration from her mother, a teacher-cook. Bishara says:
"What I truly loved and respected about my mother’s cooking and indeed the woman herself, was that she somehow “colored outside the lines” and enlivened her life and therefore her food with many creative flourishes."