318 SE Grand Ave., 235-5123; 3223 NE Broadway, 445-4700; 323 N Main Ave., Gresham, 666-3333; nicholasrestaurant.com. Lunch and dinner daily.
The three Nicholas locations are the Portland Lebanese spots for teens on their first real dates, who stare bewildered at the menu for a half-hour before ordering, always, the mezza "sampler"; for families on a budget who have discovered that the fine Lebanese pizzas sate their children's need for the familiar and their own for the exotic; for the lunch crowd jetting off with $8.50 or $9.50 lunch bowls of salmon kebab or lamb shawarma; and for Beaverton suburbanites who have not discovered the wealth of Middle Eastern spots in their own backyard. It is an unendingly generous place, with baba ghanouj, hummus, tabbouleh and mini-pizza veggie and meat mezza platters that handily feed two for $14 and $16, respectively. Nicholas is, in short, the Lebanese spot in town that—after 30 years—always knows how to meet every possible customer halfway.