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A Look Inside Besh Group's Israeli Dream Palace Shaya

And the Lenten-friendly menu items to check out now.

It's been almost one week since James Beard Award semifinalist Alon Shaya opened the doors to his highly-anticipated eponymous Israeli restaurant, where a wood fired oven is cranking out the best pita in town and the early food porn game is strong. Today, Advocate critic Ian McNulty reminds everyone why Shaya is in a class all its own, with the restaurant's emphasis on creating authentic modern Israeli dishes (menus here) and "not reinterpretations" of utter importance. Translation:

This means staple Middle Eastern flavors alongside influences from the broad Jewish diaspora now brought back to Israel.

The restaurant is definitely pushing the boundaries in terms of diversifying New Orleans cuisine in the time of tacos. Just get a load of these original house specialties:

Black bass paprikash, the Hungarian stew served here with tarragon dumplings; chicken schnitzel... and short rib tagine from North Africa.

But fear not, kale-friends, vegetarian dishes abound too, including falafel, beautiful heirloom carrots, and more. Scroll through the gallery above to get a good look at some beautiful (and Lenten-friendly) menu items, and do expect Shaya to debut a Passover menu in April.