This ain't no late-night post-town kebab spot.
October 10, 2017
This ain't no late-night post-town kebab spot (although it's handily placed at the top of Courtenay Place, next to the also-hallowed Deluxe Cafe — and it's also open til 11pm, so it depends on your definition of late-night post-town). Phoenician Falafel is a legendary spot, where everyone goes to get the best Lebanese food in Wellington. Tony and Yolanda have been creating their amazing shawarma ($12-$13), garlic sauce, hummus ($7) and falafel ($8 or $10 for super falafel) for twenty years, since their arrival from Lebanon in 1995. Their son, Elie ran a second branch on Cuba Street before transforming it into Five & Dime.
Where in Lebanon shops would focus on one thing (falafel, sausage, shawarma), Phoenician does it all in glorious, authentic Lebanese style. You're never going to find lacklustre meat wrapped in a tortilla with carrot and multiple sauces here — it's the real deal. Yolanda and Tony source hundreds of kilograms of local meats and produce a week for their menu of shawarma, sausage ($10-$14) and mehshi (delicious vegan rice-stuffed vine leaves, $8). Tony grows things they can't source, like Lebanese thyme.
The unassuming shop is perfect to drop in to if you're after that distinctly deep, spicy flavour of Lebanese cooking. Grab a pre-film or a can't-be-bothered-cooking-dinner shawarma for an easy option that you know has been made with heart. I had an amazing chicken shawarma, and next time I think I'll go for the Kibbi (handmade mince balls with burghul wheat, onions and peanuts for $3.50). There isn't a heap of seating but it is especially nice to sit in the late afternoon light (especially now that daylight savings has kicked in) and people watch while sitting outside. Also, you can't leave without picking up a piece of baklava (Tony and Yolanda's is 100% cashew) or a jar of their authentic garlic sauce for some of your own Phoenician flavour at home.