That said, the best thing about Café Nessma is that although it is perfect for a quick meal to go, the food does not taste like it was meant for dinners on the move. It is the real deal, lacking only Lebanese Taverna prices.
The small restaurant, tucked neatly inside the West End Shopping Center, has a few small tables and a bar for dining in, while also providing take away service. Nessma, the eatery’s namesake, is the daughter of owners Johara Choukri and her husband Saad Masri. They also have a son, Rakan.
West End Plaza can offer difficulties to drivers seeking an easy in and out off Route 7, so don’t forget that there’s an entrance at the back of the plaza as well.
An abundant choice of appetizers graces Chef Ahsan Ilmkenj’s menu, including the usual suspects of Hummus and Baba Ghannouge ($3.50). Although opting for the Spinach and Feta Pie ($3.30) described as triangular pastries stuffed with spinach, onions, lemon juice and olive oil, was a more substantial choice. The spinach was fresh and bright green with a nice tang from the lemon juice and puffy surrounding dough. Grape Leaves ($3.50) are stuffed with rice, tomatoes and onions and served in olive oil is of the vegetarian variety, filled with the firm texture of rice and just drizzled with olive oil.
As the main course two sandwiches proved great decisions. All sandwiches come with sesame seed paste, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles and parsley. These topping are fresh and are easily viewed from the counter when placing an order.
The Falafel Sandwich ($4.95) is a behemoth wrap of fried vegetable patties made with chickpeas with sesame seed paste, garlic, lemon juice and parsley. The outside of the patties are nicely crisp and the inside soft and filled with spice. The Chicken Shawarma Sandwich ($5.95) consists of roasted, marinated, thinly sliced chicken with garlic and sesame seed paste, served with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. This selection with its tangy paste and crunchy pickles is a real standout. Admittedly the garlic lingers on the tongue (and therefore breathe) when finished, but is well worth it.
To finish, Baklava ($1.25) is such a deal! The pastry is flakey with its layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped pistachio and sweetened corn syrup. Those little diamond shaped pastries melt in your mouth.
Once you stop by this little Lebanese gem, you will return again and again. And if you see a little girl perched upon a stool, it might just be Nessma herself, so with its friendly family atmosphere you’ll feel right at home taking a moment to say hello.
1079 West Broad Street
Falls Church, Va 22046
Open Everyday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.