The predominantly Arab city of Nazareth is home to the celebrated Diana restaurant, headed by chef Duhul Safdi. Its main room is enormous—set up, clearly, for large groups of diners anticipating Safdi’s wondrous local Palestinian fare.
One wall holds a vast window looking into the bright kitchen; positioned directly on the other side is a chef’s station where guests can watch the preparation of the meat for Safdi’s famous kebabs. Moving at the speed of light, the chef rocks a massive sickle-shaped knife along a mix of fresh lamb, onion, spices, pine nuts, and herbs, then regroups it and chops it again until its consistency is just right. It is a dizzying show, well worth watching.
A meal at Diana always begins with fresh pita and enough mezze for a dozen people (even if you are only two): Technicolor-bright vegetable salads, tahini, roasted eggplant, labneh, and more—the small dishes of delicious tastings nearly cover the table. These may be followed by wild spinach or okra with lamb or chicken, or a rice dish with mulukhiyah (jute) and perfumed with lemony beef stock, or safiha (a pastry stuffed with meat and seasoned with yogurt and harissa), or Safdi’s legendary kebabs, which are sometimes cooked and served on cinnamon sticks, giving off a lovely sweet and savory aroma. If you have room at the end (perhaps unlikely), there is knafeh and Arab coffee—black, hot, sweet, fragrant with coriander, and powerful: the perfect closing note to an amazing meal.