This Lebanese Restaurant Just Earned the ‘2020 Detroit Restaurant of the Year’

We tend to say that Lebanese food is the most flavorsome in the entire world. We might exaggerate a little but we are not far from the truth.

Our cuisine has acquired its fine reputation worldwide, and for a good reason.

From its traditional Mankoush breakfast to its hot and cold Mezza, and you name it, our Humus, Fallafel, and Shish Kabab are not the only foods that have made our cuisine so popular in the world.

In Detroit, there is that Lebanese cuisine restaurant that has stood out for its popularity, turning in less than a year into the place to go-to for the residents of the city seeking excellent Lebanese meals. 

Leila Restaurant, run by the Lebanese Samy Eid, has just earned the title of 2020 Detroit Free Press Restaurant of the Year.

Samy is the son of a Lebanese family who settled in Detroit in hopes of a better life. In 1936, his father Sameer Eid opened the Sheik restaurant that is credited till now, and long after it closed down, for introducing Lebanese food to Detroiters. 

Sameer Eid became known as “one Michigan’s longest-serving Lebanese restaurateurs,” according to Detroit Free Press, and “a forerunner of Middle Eastern food in metro Detroit for almost 50 years.”

In 1971, he opened the Phoenicia restaurant in Highland Park, which gained a great reputation that is still ongoing to date. In fact, Phoenicia is the Winner of “The OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards.”

In 2018, it was Phoenicia that earned the ‘Restaurant of the Year Classic.’ It was the first-ever selection of Detroit Free Press, according to the magazine.

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We hope to see you tonight!

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For the past 16 years, Samy has run the Phoenicia’s day-to-day business, sharing the Lebanese cultural heritage and traditions with the locals, with a full traditional Lebanese menu and stylish hospitality.

In 2015, the Eid family acquired an already successful restaurant that was the recipient of numerous awards during its seven-year run, including in 2009 and 2010: Forest Grill. 

Samy took charge of the day to day operation as well, in addition to his management of the Phoenicia.

Samy, who’s 39 years old now, went on to open a third restaurant late October 2019, on Detroit’s Capitol Park.

He named it Leila for his mother, “as a love letter to the Eid matriarch and her warm Lebanese hospitality,” the Detroit Free Press pointed out.

“My dad started Phoenicia almost 50 years ago, and he’s been successful, very blessed, very lucky,” Samy shared with the magazine. “But the one thing that has kind of been a constant light and a guiding (force) throughout has been my mom.”

“She was the glue that kind of held it all together. What better way to pay homage to what’s made us successful?” He explained, paying tribute to his mother.

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POV: Lunch is served and you are starving

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With the reputation his family built through the years, the city was in expectation when Samy was working to open Leila Restaurant. Eater Detroit called it “one of the most anticipated new restaurants” of 2019.

In an interview with Detroit Business, Samy said: “Leila is named after my mom, and more driven by the family meals that I grew up having. Leila is an homage to her and to the heritage and traditions she holds so close to her heart.”

About the meals he serves at Leila, Samy explained that he is “trying to modernize some of the foods while staying true to the traditions, getting more playful while being inviting.”

According to the Detroiters’ reviews and news, Leila represents Lebanese stylish hospitality, which is marked by generosity and overflowing abundance. So, those of you in Detroit, drop by and check it out.