Amar Bistro Brings the Flavor of the Mediterranean to Delray Beach

The fresh ingredients, aromatic blend of spices and bold flavors may conjure up the spirit of a faraway bistro, lapped by the blue waters of the Mediterranean But thankfully, Amar on nearby Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, saves you the trip.

Offering a creative yet authentic interpretation of Middle Eastern cuisine, along with the cozy, convivial atmosphere of a neighborhood bistro, Amar has been a magnet for South Florida diners since it opened in 2021.

The restaurant was bustling when we entered on a Monday night as co-owners Nicolai and Susanna Kurban’s delightful daughter, presiding over the establishment that night, escorted us to our table. She answered our questions and assisted with menu choices, which Is helpful for those unfamiliar with the nuances of the cuisine. Inspired by the Kurban’s Lebanese heritage, at Amar, simple, soulful combinations of ingredients take center stage. While capturing the spirit of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern fare, the menu melds the distinctive flavors and spicing from across the region in new and creative ways—taking diners on a culinary journey that nudges tradition with modern flair.

We started with a tangy yogurt-based dip, sent our way compliments of the house. This was followed by hot and cold mezze, which are small plates often served in quantity for sharing as a meal. Enjoying ours as appetizers, we chose hummus with lamb, an unusually light and fluffy dip, with a generous portion of grilled meat. Adding a note of pleasing contrast was grilled haloumi, a tangy, semi-hard cheese that flame broiling transformed into a creamy light texture inside with a savory, slightly salty coating. Tomatoes, pomegranate and mint added zest.

The offerings were accompanied by generous servings of handmade pita bread, which emerged fluffy and warm from Amar’s centerpiece wood-burning oven and onto our table.

Amar’s heartier main course fare ranges from a wide selection of kebabs to fish and classic eggplant dishes. Vegetarian selections are ample for both main courses and mezze. Diners who simply cannot chose among the tempting offerings can follow our lead and the suggestion of our cordial server and select the mixed grill platter for two, which can easily serve more. It included charbroiled chicken, kaftan (ground beef and lamb) and steak kabobs, along with a generous portion of baby lamb chops, all accompanied by tahini, mint-cilantro pesto and more.

We topped off our meal with the almond date tart, enlivened with coconut and maple syrup for a truly sweet ending to a wonderful meal.

Complementing the cuisine, the curated wine list offers bottles from boutique wineries in Lebanon, Greece, Southern France, Italy, and Northern California. Imported and local craft beers also are available. We washed down our meal with several glasses of the delightful house Lebanese wine.

A seasoned hospitality veteran, Nicolai Kurban has worked alongside celebrated chefs such as Thomas Keller and Wolfgang Puck, and in executive positions with luxury properties around the world. He notes,
“Our goal is to share a bit of the food I grew up eating in my father’s restaurant. At Amar, we offer a unique and healthy dining experience to this beautiful beachside community that we love.”

The restaurant seats 60, both outdoors and indoors where comfortable banquettes, whitewashed exposed brick walls and hand-woven planters create a welcoming environment.

Amar is located at 522 East Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach, FL 33483. Call 561.865.5653 or visit amardelray.com.