Sahtain!

Dine at Byblos for an authentic Lebanese experience

Sahtain is an Arabic expression most commonly used when a person is dining. It translates to a wish for double health – for you to enjoy your food before and after eating it. It’s kinda like saying Bon Appetit! One place you may hear this in our community is at Byblos in Gainesville.

In the winter of 2016, Sonia Boustany opened Byblos Restaurant in Piedmont Center Plaza. Located just over the line where Haymarket meets Gainesville, the quaint but contemporary space adds to the list of family owned businesses in the heart of our community, but with a unique twist.

Byblos, which is named after the first city in Lebanon, is essentially an extension of the former Nora A Taste of Lebanon – which was owned and operated by Sonia’s mother, Walid. Prior to opening Nora in Gainesville, Walid’s experience included 30 years in the restaurant industry, beginning in Burke with Aladdin’s Eatery in 2001, followed by two more locations in Shirlington and Ballston, and finally Stars Bistro in Washington DC and Laziza in Fredericksburg.

When Walid was forced to close Nora A Taste of Lebanon, Sonia became inspired to continue the family tradition. Her upbringing in a family of entrepreneurs had given her a passion for the restaurant business and the drive to pursue her education in the field. But of course Sonia was not new to the industry; she had been involved with her family’s businesses as well as other corporate and fine dining establishments for 15 years and was well versed in offering authentic Middle Eastern delicacies to people of all backgrounds.

If the reviews of Nora are an indication of how needed this type of restaurant is in our community, you can imagine how positive the response was when Byblos opened. Sonia strives to offer the community a place for healthy, all natural, always fresh meals, and for visitors to feel at home and like a part of the family when they dine there. The restaurant is full service with an 80 seat capacity. Meals are cooked fresh, using authentic Lebanese recipes.

Soups include lentil, vegetable, and chicken bean. The appetizer selections are quite extensive and range from tabbouleh, baba ghannouj, stuffed grape leaves, and spinach or cheese pies, along with many others. For lovers of the healthy green stuff, Byblos’ large salads will fit the bill, especially the house salad of mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, and green peppers, topped with feta cheese and/or your choice of shish kebab, kafta, lamb, chicken kebab, shawarma, chicken shawarma, or salmon.

Then we get to the main platters. The lamb shank is bone-in, braised lamb topped with tomato sauce and a grilled vegetable mix, served with white rice vermicelli, roasted mashed potatoes or fries. The kebab plates are available in shish Kebab, lamb, kafta (angus ground beef), or chicken, and are charbroiled and marinated to perfection. Following is the description of the hoummus Shawarma Platter: a large hoummos platter topped with grilled, marinated, sliced tender beef or chicken breast, garnished. How delicious does that sound?

Diners can also choose Mihshi Koosa, which is stuffed zucchini with angus ground beef mixed with rice and simmered in a tomato sauce, as well as Ferrouj Mishwi, a juicy and tender half chicken marinated with garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil, and then charbroiled.

For lighter options, Byblos has two more categories to choose from – pizza and sandwiches. Who doesn’t love pizza? Byblos offers a vegetarian pizza called manakeesh, a mediterranean vegetarian pizza, a pizza topped with ground beef, and a lamb pizza. Sandwich options are pita rolls with lamb, beef, shawarma, chicken shawarma, or chicken salad as well as ground beef, chicken kebab, falafel, and grape leaves.

Can’t get to Byblos? They’ll come to you. For parties of 15 or more, you can order soups, finger foods such as grape leaves or falafel, appetizers like tabouli and hoummos, and specialty meals like shawarma or kebabs as well as dessert. Carryout and delivery are also available.

For a unique entertainment experience, visit on Fridays and Saturdays and enjoy a belly dancing show while you dine. Byblos, 6850 Piedmont Center Plaza, Gainesville. For more information, go to byblosgainesville.com.

Christine Craddock
About Christine Craddock 38 Articles
Christine Craddock is a writer, editor, photographer, wife, and mother of two adorable children. She is a faithful contributing writer for Haymarket Lifestyle magazine and has resided in Haymarket since 2006.

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