Wine me, dine me pick of the week: Spotted at a Mason strip mall? Mezza platter at Phoenicia Taverna

MASON, Ohio - We are pleased to bring you this weekly feature from Julie Niesen Gosdin, the voice behind the food blog wine me, dine me . Julie serves up a "Pick of the Week," when she visits a local eatery and samples a signature menu item.

Mezza platter at Phoenicia Taverna

  • 7944 South Mason Montgomery Road, Mason
  • Lebanese food in elegant surroundings
  • Price: $14

There's a strip mall in Mason where you can get some of the best ethnic food in the city, right at the corner of Mason-Montgomery Road and Socialville-Foster: amazing Chinese food at Sichuan Bistro; fantastic Korean food at Su Ra; great Thai food at Arloi Dee and Lebanese from Phoenician Taverna

Sure, it's in a strip mall, but once you walk in, you're in a recently remodeled restaurant, with white tablecloths and friendly staff. It fits in perfectly with its neighbors, providing fresh, delicious Middle Eastern food at a very good price.

The first time I went to Phoenician Taverna was for a business meeting, and my colleague who suggested it assured me that it was great and that the pita and baba ghanoush were "unbelievable."

I was dubious: How great can pita be? Pretty great, which I discovered once I had one of their delicious shwarma wraps. This time, I was at lunch with a friend from Dayton (Mason is kind of a middle point, I suppose) and we each got the mezza platter (see below), which traditionally accompany alcoholic beverages; at lunch time, it was just iced tea.

Never had Lebanese food? Want to try everything? This is the item to pick. You get little tastes of a lot of their cold and hot mezze: From some of the best hummus I've had in town, to flavorful baba ghanoush, tabbouleh and falafel, to some new-to-me dishes, like kibbeh (which I'd heard of, but not had the bulghur fried version) and a delicious pomegranate and eggplant moussaka.

There's a vegetarian version that has many of the same dishes, as well as vegetarian versions of kibbeh and other vegetarian dishes. It's an easy way to discover Lebanese cuisine.

I assure you: I do leave the urban basin to eat. There is great food all over the city, especially one of my favorite restaurant areas, Mason. If you've not had Lebanese food (or are big fans of Greek food, the cuisine is similar with some distinct differences), this is a great way to taste your way through Lebanese cuisine at your lunch hour.

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