Since Ilham Saad and her late husband, Kamal, opened Byblos on West 13th Street in 1990, the business has been expanded to include seating for more than 45 people, a small grocery area selling select Lebanese food items, and a banquet room that can accommodate 20-25 people for meetings or luncheons.
The menu focuses on Lebanese cuisine. On our visit, we started with an order of hummus (chickpeas mixed with tahini sauce) and a tabouli salad (chopped parsley, tomatoes, onions and cracked wheat with a lemon-and-olive-oil dressing). The hummus came with warm pita bread for dipping and was more than enough for the three of us. The freshly chopped ingredients and tasty dressing used in the tabouli salad always leave me wanting more. No visit to Byblos is complete without a tabouli salad.
Both sandwiches we tried were generously filled with two deliciously seasoned chicken breasts. My chicken shawarma was wrapped in warm pita bread with parsley, tomatoes, onions and tahini sauce. My daughter’s chicken gyro was wrapped in warm flat bread with tomatoes, onions and cucumber sauce. My husband had the baked kibbeh (seasoned beef and cracked wheat baked with onions and pine nuts) and an order of four grape leaves (rolled grape leaves stuffed with seasoned beef and rice). The kibbeh reminded me of meatloaf and had lots of flavor from the spices inside. The meat-stuffed grape leaves were tasty, too.
Our waitress was friendly and knowledgeable about the various menu items and history of the restaurant, which dropped its dinner hours in September 2013. Ilham Saad, who had been operating the restaurant alone since her husband died in 2009, said at the time that she needed to slow down.
Prices at Byblos are reasonable. Appetizers and salads are less than $4 each, sandwiches are $4.95 each, and specialty salads are $7.95 and include your choice of chicken, beef or kafta. Main dishes are $6.95 each, or you can make a combo meal by choosing one main dish, one salad and one appetizer for $12.95. Daily specials are offered, and vegetarian dishes are available. There are also kid-friendly menu items to choose from.
Byblos, which sits in a nondescript strip center, may not be the fanciest-looking restaurant from the outside, but remember the saying, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.”
Ratings reflect the critic’s judgment of the food, service and atmosphere in relation to the price. If you would like to nominate a restaurant to be reviewed, call 316-268-6327.
Where: 3088 W. 13th St., 316-943-3999
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays
Type of food: Lebanese