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The 35th Annual Lebanese Food Festival

Change your lunch plans because the Lebanese Food Festival starts today! And believe me, you won’t want to miss it. In fact, you will want to try every delicious delicacy! Update–just go ahead and change your meal plans for the rest of the weekend.

If you’re a food lover- and in this city, who isn’t- this is a must attend, and much loved, Richmond event. This year is their 35th anniversary and the weather is looking gorgeous for the weekend, so go out and celebrate with all the Shwirma you can eat!

As soon as you hit the tents your senses fill with fantastic aromas of garlic, parsley, lemon and middle eastern spices. And that’s just the beginning. Wait until you actually taste it. You’ll be “mmmming” with every bite.

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top left: shrimp kabob over rice, bottom left: assorted desserts, bottom right: grape leaves

St. Anthony’s Maronite Church near Innsbrook in the West End happily hosts this yearly tradition involving food, fellowship, and all things Lebanese culture. Members of the church work year round to provide the most authentic food that’s nothing short of pure heaven for your tastebuds. My family are regulars to the festival and we look forward to it every year. We have also taken several friends and family members to check it out and now they’re hooked too. Seriously, once you try the food and experience the warm hospitality, you’ll wait in anticipation for it every year and make it an annual family outing yourself.

Of course the major draw and highlight of the festival is the food, but they also show off the lively spirit of Lebanese culture with music and dancing. They invite and encourage the audience to join in the Dabke, which is a traditional circle style dance.

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Dabke circle dance, photo: richmond.com

And while you’re taking in the atmosphere and conversation, treat yourself to glass of Lebanese wine. Honestly, it’s some of the best wine I’ve ever had…which is saying something. My husband always looks forward to a nice, cold Almaza, their signature beer. There is also a large playground for the little ones, so bring the entire family; kids, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles. The Lebanese community thrives on family and fellowship; the more the merrier!

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Zalabia

Head on over for lunch or dinner and enjoy some authentic Lebanese cuisine. A little pro tip–make sure to come very hungry because you will stuff your face, it’s so good! They offer something for every taste; vegetarian dishes, lamb, seafood, chicken, beef, you name it. My personal recommendations are the Shawirma, cheese and spinach pies and Tabouli. And an absolute must- my mouth waters just thinking about it- is the Zalabia! (pictured right) It’s a dessert that loosely resembles a donut hole, but it’s a thousand times more delicious. It’s dough that they fry and drizzle with a sweet syrup. They melt in your mouth! Just go ahead and order at least 10…you’ll thank me later.

 

 

If you want the entire experience, there are tables and tents set up to sit and eat while you take in the festivities. But, if you’re in a hurry, you’re welcome to get meals to-go. The festival starts today, May 17 and continues through Sunday. The hours are Friday and Saturday 10 am to 10 pm and Sunday 10 am to 8 pm. I recommend going for lunch or an early dinner if you want to beat the crowd. Parking is free and on-site. Click here to visit the official website for the full menu and more information. I hope to see you all there!

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