A taste of Lebanon

When longtime food truck owner and caterer Tarek Albast opened his full-service restaurant this year, he provided Columbus with an expanded menu of fresh Lebanese fare. The Bethel Road eatery is filled with dark wood paneling (and even tablecloths), healthy food, a sense of humor (in the form of witty T-shirts) and, of course, hummus.

Tucked away in a shopping center, Mr. Hummus adds to the array of international and locally owned eateries that make Northwest Columbus culinarily rich. Albast's restaurant offers patio dining as well as a large selection of hot teas and coffees. Sandwiches are simple and ingredient-driven, and entrées make you feel like you're in the Mediterranean.

The appetizers are generally available in small and large portions, and the smooth hummus (served with plenty of olive oil, pita bread and an optional side of veggies) provides a light start to a meal. And the fattet hummus is meant for a crowd. A Lebanese casserole of sorts, this rich dish presents tahini, chickpeas, garlicky yogurt, toasted pine nuts and olive oil with a base layer of flaky and decadent pita chips.

Most entrées include lean, grilled proteins—chicken, lamb or beef—served atop a mound of rice with tomatoes, red onions and steamed vegetables. And while the dishes may seem simple, they demonstrate what can happen when fresh ingredients take center stage. While grilled kebabs are aplenty, the lamb shank special is a safe bet to try, if it's available. The slow-roasted, fall-off-the-bone meat is tender and homey. And the fried red snapper is another Mr. Hummus classic-in-the-making. Beautifully plated, the mildly flavored, flaky fish makes for a light and delightful meal.

Meet the Owner: Tarek Albast

Hometown: Tyre, Lebanon

Resume: The culinary school graduate has owned five food trucks throughout Columbus as well as Midnight Hookah Lounge in the Short North. In Lebanon, he worked at a restaurant called Station Shawarma.

What is the dish you're most proud of? “The braised lamb shoulders and the lamb chops are my mother's recipes. I cook the shoulders for 11 hours, while the chops are marinated for 48 hours.”

How do you like to spend a day off? “With my son. He's 3 years old. We go shopping or watch a movie.”

What does Central Ohio need more of? “We need more healthy places, where you can eat and not smell like grease.”

Most-Instagrammed item on the menu? “The Mixed Grill Platter, with beef, shrimp, arayes and chicken shawarma”