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November 13, 2018

Zahav makes Eater's 'Essential 38' restaurants in America

Food & Drink Restaurants
Zahav brings back the Lamb Shack CookNSolo Restaurants/for PhillyVoice

Braised lamb shoulder at Zahav.

As the CookNSolo family of restaurants continues to expand in Philadelphia, Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook's crown jewel remains Philadelphia's top dining attraction.

Eater critic Bill Addison revealed his 2018 America's 38 Essential Restaurants on Tuesday morning, including Zahav as Philadelphia's only entry. The Israeli hot spot is one of just five restaurants to make the list in all five years Eater's list been produced.

Addison assembles his top restaurants based on 34 weeks of travel and nearly 600 meals in 36 cities.

"Which places become indispensable to their neighborhoods, and eventually to their towns and whole regions?" Addison asks. "Which ones spur trends, or set standards for hospitality and leadership, or stir conversations around representation and inclusivity? Which restaurants, ultimately, become vital to how we understand ourselves, and others, at the table?"

It's hard to argue that Zahav isn't essential by these standards. Its success among locals and travelers recently inspired CookNSolo to pursue plans for a similar concept in Kensington that is scheduled to open some time next year.

Here's what Addison had to say about Zahav:

The recent limelight on Middle Eastern foods in America, which is overdue and still very much emerging, can in part be traced to Michael Solomonov, the chef who owns Zahav (and about a dozen other restaurants) with Steve Cook. Solomonov, born in Israel, brings a respectful and contemporary translation of that nation’s clearinghouse adaptation of its region’s varied cuisines. Dinner should always begin with salatim — warmly spiced vegetable salads that light up the table in their shades of red, green, gold, and purple — and Solomonov’s justly lauded hummus, maybe in a Turkish variation bathed in melted butter. Grilled duck hearts, roasted carrots with labneh, the signature smoked lamb shoulder lacquered with pomegranate molasses, riffs on kanafeh (a shredded phyllo dessert) with seasonal fruits: These communal plates all foster kinship, further cultural understanding, and of course bring immense enjoyment.

Solomonov and Cook recently released "Israeli Soul," a cook book that helps you bring modern Israeli cuisine to life in your own home. 

Check out the full list of America's 38 Essential Restaurants here.