Early failed attempts to add international flavor to meals included covering Pop-Tarts with siracha and subtitling alphabet soup. Stamp your tongue's passport with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 towards traditional Lebanese cuisine and hookah at Mijana and Hoookahmania in Tempe.
Mijana's expansive, golden-hue dining room, stage, and dance floor brim with the savory odors wafting from the restaurant's stone wood oven. Tease your taste buds with a mezza plate such as hummus, accented with tahini, garlic, and lemon juice, and made fresh daily ($6). Hearty entrees include kofta kebab, a flavorful duet of lamb and ground beef in matching onion-and-parsley uniforms that trade eights atop a fluffy rice stage ($14). Herbivores can sink their molars into baby stuffed zucchini, accented with tomato, parsley, and onion in a dish more herbal and fresh than a druid on prom night ($14).
Next door, Hoookahmania's lounge boasts more than 40 flavors of tobacco, including caramel apple, mint, and mango molasses ($12+). Recline on chic furnishings in the glow of the plentiful flat-screen televisions and practice blowing elaborate smoke rings or more elaborate smoke möbius strips.
Every day, Chef Ibrahim lobs freshly made pita-bread discs into his Wood Stone oven, waits for them to puff up and lightly brown, then retrieves them with a large metal paddle for piping-hot delivery to tables. All meals at Mijana start with a basket of these pillowy loaves, revving up appetite engines for the authentic Lebanese dishes the chef and his staff are crafting in the kitchen. Leaning heavily on traditional key ingredients such as garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice, the chef whips up platters of flavorful dips and spreads as well as grilled kebabs and sautéed entrees. Music, belly dancing, and dance lessons pepper the calendar of this more than 5,000-square-foot venue, providing a lively complement to the night.