Veggie feast at Zahav Credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TMOM

It took only 73 emails to coordinate a birthday dinner for my sister in Philadelphia, and another dozen or so to choose a restaurant.  I immediately wanted the vegetarian friendly Zahav, an Israeli restaurant in Society Hill, but my meat-loving foodie brother was not so easily convinced.  When I reminded him that it was my sister’s favorite restaurants – AND he read the thousand or so positive reviews on Yelp, he was swayed.

Six of us traveled from New York, and my sister and her husband came from the exurbs of Wilmington, Delaware, and we made a weekend of our dinner. But it was certainly the highlight.

The restaurant offers a “Taste of Zahav,” a $39 per person feast that starts off with the homemade hummus and flatbreads, along with so many salads that you might think you are full.  The salads change daily – we had one with beets, another with eggplant, some spiced carrots and at least 3 other small dishes.


Then the real meal starts.


Post run up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps
Credit: Judy Antell / Vegetarian TMOM

You get 2 mezze per person, and the meat eaters had lamb and chicken.  There was wonderful veggie choices: fried cauliflower, in a garlic and mint sauce, a delicious crispy haloumi cheese, kohlrabi and a potato dish.

At this point, we were full, so my brother ordered another kind of hummus. We sampled the traditional hummus, the hummus made with lava beans, and an unusual rich hummus made with butter, but no tahini.

We shared entrees of mushrooms with couscous, eggplant with lentils and dourade. Everyone else had duck, steak, chicken and lamb.

An embarrassment of desserts followed, and we were all well-lubricated with cocktails and wine. We definitely made the right choice to spend the night and not drive back to New York.

Plus we all had to get up early the next morning for a run up the Philadelphia Art Museum steps a la Rocky.