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  1. Kurdi's Fresh Mediterranean Grill

    Downtown Tampa : 777 N Ashley Drive, Tampa, 33602

    Heveen Kurdi launched this spot several years ago, really a straight-up example of the foods from her home in Amman, Jordan. Like more familiar Lebanese cuisine, it was rife with kebabs, hummus, falafel and shawarmas. It became a go-to spot for business lunchers, but as the sophistication level  …

  2. Fresh Bites

    Westchase : 116655 Countryway Blvd., Tampa, 33626

    It's a modest space with ambitious aims. Adhering to many of the nutrition ideas of Orlando-based Maximized Living (an organization that advocates a fitness, nutrition and lifestyle regimen), it's straight-up traditional Lebanese food made from organic produce, grass-fed beef and lamb from Niman …

  3. Green Land Restaurant

    Tampa : 10817 N 56th St., Tampa, 33617

  4. Gengiz Khan Restaurant

    MacDill Area : 6102 S MacDill Ave. # C, Tampa, 33611

  5. Morae's Persian Cafe

    Tampa : 1441 E Fletcher Ave. # 123, Tampa, 33612

  6. Byblos Cafe

    Editor's pick

    South Tampa : 2832 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, 33629

    The local rebirth of Middle Eastern cuisine gets its most stylish display thanks to smart Lebanese entrepreneurs. Yogurt, grape leaves and kibbe are deliciously fresh. Stay late and finish with intoxicating bellydancing or a dreamy draw on the water pipe (hookah).

  7. Cedar Market

    St. Petersburg : 6531 54th Ave. N, St. Petersburg, 33709

    Nabil Chehab and his family have run a Middle Eastern market at this spot for six years, with a previous location before that. The market smells complicated, of licoricey fennel seeds, musty burlap sacks of dried fava beans and fruity Chiclets with swirly Arabic writing on the back. More than ha …

  8. Petra Restaurant

    Tampa : 4812 E Busch Blvd. # E, Tampa, 33617

    For sheer falafel splendor, visit Petra, which also houses a friendly Middle Eastern grocery (good pickles and hummus). The sandwich is a fair-priced $3.49, three crunchy spheres drizzled with tahini and tucked into pita.

  9. Pita Shack

    Sarasota beaches : 5214 Ocean Blvd., Sarasota, 34242

    In Siesta Key Village.

  10. Mirage Restaurant

    Clearwater : 2284 Gulf to Bay Blvd., Clearwater, 33765

    The most dynamically flavored dishes don't seem to appear on the weekday lunch buffet; thus a dinner visit is in order (caution: belly dancing Friday and Saturday evenings). Two of the most famous Persian dishes, fesenjan and shirin polo, are elegantly rendered at Mirage. The former is chicken b …

  11. Beirut Cafe

    St. Petersburg : 5281 Park St. N, St. Petersburg, 33709

    Hana Lakkis has been making Lebanese pastries for decades in Pennsylvania, and is now filling a bakery display case here with baklawa, maamoul and nammoura. But before dessert, her husband, Fisal Houssein, offers up shawarma, kabobs and falafel for lunch and dinner. BYOB.Read a review.

  12. Meze 119

    Downtown St. Petersburg : 119 Second St. N, St. Petersburg, 33701

    Meze 119 is billed as "authentic Middle Eastern food with modern flair." That it is. What it may take the unobservant diner a while to figure out, though, is that it's 100 percent vegetarian. It's not that owner Dean Hershkowitz is being coy. It's as he says: "A lot of the food we …

  13. Dooners

    Downtown St. Petersburg : 21 Third St N, St. Petersburg, 33701

    The core of the Dooners menu is a trio of spits, one with a classic beef/lamb doner mold, one of chicken (made more healthful with all white meat, no poultry skin or fat) and another of turkey. These are sliced and either zipped into naan pockets with white and red cabbage, tomato, cuke, red oni …