Ilili Box Brings Lebanese Street Food to Flatiron

By Kelly Dobkin  |  September 20, 2013
Credit: Gabi Porter

Ilili Box, oh how we dreamed of the day you'd arrive. As a Detroit native who dearly misses the authentic Lebanese sandwiches available on just about every corner of the Motor City suburbs, we had always wished that SOMEONE would bring our beloved shish tawook sandwich (with garlic sauce, aka toum) to NYC. Sure you can get a chicken shawarma with mysterious "white sauce" and "hot sauce" at just about any street cart in town - but this sandwich, with sumac-seasoned pulled chicken, pickled Persian cucumbers and the garlic whip, is the stuff of dreams. Aside from traditional offerings like lamb shawarma and manouche, Ilili Box (from the owners of ilili) mixes it up with creative takes on falafel that include Korean and Mexican varieties, a lamb pastrami pressed sandwich and duck shawarma.

Located in a kiosk in Flatiron Public Plaza (between 5th Avenue and Broadway near 24th Street), the kiosk came as a result of a competition organized by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership Business Improvement District (BID) and the Department of Transportation. In 2010, they selected ilili Box’s proposal over several other food vendors. This will also be the first public plaza with a liquor license - beer on tap and wine will soon be offered in addition to the amazing non-alcholic lemonades (cucumber mint ginger; mandarin, blood orange, cilantro, basil). Dessert is no slouch here either, a seriously inventive butterscotch panna cotta with pink peppercorns, semolina crumble and poached apricots will surprise you with every bite. Basically, we're straight up jealous of anyone who works within walking distance of this spot.

Check out our recent Next Generation piece about the Massoud family who are behind both ilili and ilili box here.

24th and Broadway; 646-771-4090