Al Deewan is a homey Lebanese bakery specializing in manakeesh: a traditional flatbread most popularly eaten as street food all over the Levant.
Often called the pizza of the Middle East, manakeesh is most commonly topped with the popular herb mix za'atar.
At Al Deewan it doesn't stop there, with over 10 toppings—all halal—you can deck out your flatbread with.
Owner Mohammad El-Karaouni wanted to create a kitchen serving up traditional baked goods from Lebanon, where anyone growing up with Arab food could feel at home.
In true Arab-style hospitality, there's even a drink dispenser where customers can help themselves to free cups of black tea.
El-Karaouni enlisted the help of pro-baker Suliman Rami, the man behind the manakeesh operations at Paramount, to make the ultimate traditional flatbread.
Now working in Al Deewan's kitchen, which has surprisingly high ceilings behind the cashier counter, Rami and a few other bakers including Rami's own dad knead up balls of dough made fresh per order.
They're flattened out into nine-inch portions using a dough sheeter.
You can choose from different toppings like thyme, spinach with cheese, halal sausage, and ground beef.
Using a type of pizza paddle, manakeesh are thrown into the open flame of a big, roaring gas oven.
Imported from Beqaa Valley in east Lebanon, this special manakeesh oven weighs 5,000 pounds and heats up to 500 degrees Celsius.
Unlike wood-fired ovens, whose flames come from one area of the oven, the heat in this special oven is multi-directional.
The thin-crusted flatbread comes out tasting super fresh and comforting.
Ranging between $2.50 and $4, they're a great bang for your buck if you're trying to get a quick filling meal. Big boat-like breads are $8.
If you want to create your own from scratch, a customized manakeesh comes up to $5 flat for whichever toppings you want.
There's also the Deewan Special ($7.99) which comes with five sections of different toppings including za'atar and kishk, a type of goat milk yogurt with cracked wheat.
Fatayer, which are the smaller, folded up styles of manakeesh, are $1.50 each.
There's one table here and a few counter-height chairs, meaning Al Deewan is really ideal for takeout.
Many families come here to have manakeesh specially made, and people can actually bring their own toppings by the kilo to be made into fatayer ($30 per kilo will make up to 60 manakeesh).
To complete a totally authentic Lebanese meal, you can finish off your meal with an awesome triangular juice box of Bonjus, a popular kid's juice that comes in pineapple or mango and is equally delicious for adults.
Brightly coloured and naturally lit, Al Deewan is one of those places where both first-timers of manakeesh and those who've grown up eating it are totally welcome.