Part of the charm of TarBoush—arguably the best Lebanese restaurant in Portland—is how personal it feels. That explains why the short-lived North Tabor spin-off is now Big Ass Sandwiches: Half the joy of TarBoush is walking into the Victorian house-cum-restaurant and being blasted with a whoosh of Lebanese spices. Among the traditional fare, the usual suspects are all represented and wonderful, from the city's best lamb shawarma ($19) to grilled skewers of beef or chicken that can be ordered alone ($14-$15.50), but should absolutely be upped to a mezza plate ($20.50) in order to get in on the tabouli, hummus and baba ghannoush. The lamb shank ($18.50) is kicked up with an array of citric and earthy flavors, but it's a safe bet. Instead, opt for something more adventurous like the moussaka batinjan ($14), an explosion of eggplant, garlic and chickpeas. Either way, resist the overpoweringly salty grape leaves ($8) and start with kibbeh ($10)—little beef-filled cones mating the best parts of croquettes and samosas.
Pro tip: Don't be shy about pouring all the juices of your entree over leftover rice. It'll transform everything.
GO: 3257 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 235-3277, tarboushlebanesebistro.com. 11 am-9 pm daily. $$.