To experience some of the tastiest Lebanese cuisine this side of Beirut…
You better ‘Yalla’.
“Yalla means ‘hurry up’ let’s go’ ‘let’s try this food out. Yalla is the word that is more of a lifestyle. It’s like ‘yalla let’s eat’. ‘Yalla let’s drink’. Yalla, let’s have some fun.”
And you will eat, drink and be more than merry, when you ‘yalla’ to Yalla Grill.
Located in Methuen, Massachusetts, Yalla Grill is a family run spot serving ultra authentic Lebanese food, prepared for you by the Alchammas family.
“It’s a family business.”
“So that’s my mother.”
“My mother cuts the parsley literally every single morning.”
This is my father over here.”
“My father does a lot here.”
“They strictly cook Lebanese. I’m talking like 100 years olds recipes. I’m talking like my grandma’s grandma’s recipes.
“We make them happy up front with the service. And then my parents make him happy up in the back with the great food.”
That’s Eliee Alchammas, who along with his sister Celine run the front of house, while the rest of the family cooks up the time-tested recipes they brought to the states not all that long ago.
“I was born and raised in Lebanon. I came here when I was 17. We’re passionate about serving up Lebanese food. We’re cooking for family pretty much we consider every single one of our customers as part of our family. If you’ve never tried Lebanese food, this is the place to have it.”
There are many ways to kick off your meal at Yalla. From these tasty Lebanese Sausages sauteed in a lemon tomato sauce to something called Sambusic.
“Sambusic is a moon shaped dough stuffed with mixed ground meat. And perfectly spiced and then it’s deep fried. The moment you bite into it, it’s absolute beef madness.”
Other apps include this Lebanese style flatbread topped with tasty beef kafta, chopped tomatoes and spices and this Mediterranean spin on a mozzarella stick that Celine can’t get enough of.
“The cheese it’s my favorite. I love cheese. The cheese rolls are in a dough. There is feta cheese, mozzarella cheese, there’s mint, there’s onions and parsley inside. They’re super good.”
But there’s no better way to kick off your Lebanese experience than with their massive mezze platter.
“You’re pretty much getting everything that you need on that Mediterranean plate. It has hummus, baba ghanouj, tabouli, falafels and it has grape leaves. The tabouli is made fresh from scratch. My mother literally starts chopping up, parsley every morning and then mixing everything up. The good olive oil, the tomatoes. This is an award winning tabouli. It’s the perfect platter to share honestly.”
You won’t go wrong with one of Yalla’s sandwiches, all served in warm fluffy pita. There’s the tasty deep fried falafel, loaded up with parsley flakes, tomatoes, turnip and tahini or the Chicken Shawarma- served traditionally with lettuce, tomatoes, garlic spread, and even french fries stuffed inside the sandwich, which has some customers curious.
“People find it fascinating. They like looking at me they’re like french fries? Like what’s going on there? Why is there french fries in my sandwich? I’m like, that’s a tradition if you want to eat a chicken shawarma, you have to have french fries with it.”
Other traditional dishes include the Grilled Trio featuring a beef tenderloin, chicken and kafta kabobs over fries and the Cabbage Rolls- Lebanese comfort food at its finest.
“The cabbage rolls are rolled up with ground beef and rice in them and then they’re cooked in tomato sauce. When you bite into it you’ll get the a little bit of a crunch of the cabbage….And then and then you’ll taste to the mixture of ground beef and rice with a tomato sauce. It’s definitely Lebanese comfort food. If you’re feeling sick, or if you’re feeling sad or down, I would definitely recommend going for those cabbage rolls.”
Another well known Lebanese dish is Kibbe. And at Yalla, you can have it one of three ways.
“Kibbe is like everything. It’s like our main dish. Kibbe is made in so many different ways. We have it raw. You could have it baked and you could have it fried. Now my personal favorite has to be raw, you know, unpopular opinion. And then the fried kibbe is like a Lebanese meatball that we put fry and we put ground beef in it and and chopped up onion sauteed onions as well. And then we have our baked kibbe which is what I usually describe as a meatloaf. It’s like two layers of meat and then stuffed with ground beef and lamb and chopped onions. You can’t go wrong with that. If you’re a meat lover you’re absolutely have to try our baked kibbe. It’s delicious.”
At dessert, you could opt for their housemade baklava with crunchy, super-sweert layers of phyllo dough, chopped walnuts and rosewater syrup….
Or the Ashta- a Lebanese pudding you won’t soon forget.
“Ashta is like our show stealer here. Everybody…is looking forward to ending their meals,… just so they can leave some room for the Ashta. The ashta is a pudding made of milk, sugar and rose water and it’s topped with pistachio and honey. It’s one of our signature dishes over here for dessert. If you’re looking for the perfectly sweet and desserts, I would highly highly recommend sharing an ashta platter. It is absolutely the best way to end your meal.”
And whether you come for all of the flavor. Or to feel like you’re part of the family. You too will want to ‘hurry up’ and Yalla to Yalla Grill.