It is no secret that Boston has countless restaurants, and a number of great ones can be found in a relatively small area in and around the downtown section of the city, including in the North End, the South End, Chinatown, the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, near North Station, and beyond into neighborhoods like Allston, South Boston, East Boston, and Dorchester. But if you're looking for outstanding dining spots that might be a bit more hidden, it's worth heading to the outer edges of Boston to places like Hyde Park, Roslindale, Mattapan, and West Roxbury, with this last neighborhood being home to a real hidden gem that's about as far away from downtown Boston as you can get while still being in Boston. And if you like Lebanese food, Fairouz is one of those places that may cause you to wonder why you didn't know about it sooner.
Fairouz is located on a stretch of Washington Street near the Dedham line, a good 10 miles southwest of where the road begins in Downtown Crossing. This section of the road--and this part of the city in general--is very suburban, with single-family homes, green space, and little one-story commercial strips, one of which is where the restaurant can be found. From the outside, Fairouz doesn't look all that big and it almost appears to be more of a takeout spot, but the interior is quite spacious, with a large number of tables along with some booths and bench seating. The setup is slightly dark and cavernous, feeling almost like a function hall in some ways, but it is a comfortable spot with plenty of room between tables and music being played at a reasonable level. The dining spot does do a good amount of takeout and delivery, but this is really more of a full-service place where diners can take their time eating--and it is a very good option for families and larger groups because of the amount of space inside and the setup of the seating.
Like some other Lebanese restaurants (the long-closed Bishop's in Lawrence comes to mind), Fairouz features both Lebanese fare and American dishes, with the menu basically split into two different sections. The Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Lebanese side of the menu includes some familiar and not-so-familiar items, with the former including crunchy and nicely-seasoned falafel, stuffed grape leaves that are vegetarian and are drizzled with a house-made yogurt sauce, all kinds of wraps including ones with chicken, beef, and lamb kabobs, a garlicky hummus that can be topped with ground lamb and pine nuts, and a classic baba ghannouj made with roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. A few items that you might not see quite as often include labneh, a thick, mild-tasting cream cheese that is topped with olive oil and can have garlic and mint added to it as well (this second version has a lot of garlic so beware); mekanek, which are delicious house-made Lebanese sausages that are fried and have a secret mix of herbs and spices (powdered sumac is definitely one of them); jebne, a fried flatbread that is topped with cheese and served with veggies; and arnabeet, or fried cauliflower with a mix of tahini sauce, parsley, and tomatoes. A few items of note include a sublime chicken shawarma plate with perfectly-charred pieces of chicken, a small side salad, and fries, a similarly great beef shawarma with lean strips of meat added, a mind-blowing baked kibbee which (in this version) almost takes the form of a bulgur and beef sandwich with warming spices, and pita bread that reaches a different level here, as one version they have is freshly-made and comes with a char that adds an extra dimension to it (a more "basic" pita bread is also offered as well). The American side of the menu at Fairouz is simple and straightforward, with such items as pizza, burgers, chicken fingers, wings, and club sandwiches available. Beer and wine is offered here, but if you want to try something different, the restaurant also serves Arak, an anise-flavored spirit that is deceptively strong and isn't all that different from ouzo.
West Roxbury isn't at the level of the South End or Allston when it comes to dining out, but there are some restaurants here that are well worth going to, and Fairouz is easily one of the best of the lot. It may be many miles from downtown Boston, but if you have a car or don't mind hopping from subway/commuter rail to bus, this dining spot is really something special and should not be missed by any means.
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