Between the perfectly cooked branzino and the carefully curated atmosphere, you can tell the group behind Leila in Detroit pays attention to the details.
The owner, Samy Eid, comes from the same family that created the longstanding fine dining restaurant, Phoenicia in Birmingham. While Eid worked there, he always had a passion to open his own restaurant in Detroit, and in 2019, he got his chance.
Leila is a large restaurant located right in the heart of Capitol Park in downtown Detroit. The main inspiration for the chic restaurant was Eid’s mother, Leila.
“Who is the glue that holds the family together,” explains Eid.
Here they dish up a modern take on Lebanese food. Many of the dishes are actually based on Leila’s recipes. The Chef worked alongside Leila to measure out the recipes she knew by heart, and create them for the menu.
Eid says he wanted the menu to feel like Sunday night dinners at his parents’ house when he was growing up.
“When I was applying to college... my dad said you can go anywhere in the world, as long as it’s 45 minutes away,” says Eid. Luckily, he got into the University of Michigan. “Every Sunday it was mandatory that I come home for Sunday dinner.”
The idea is to order several plates for everyone at the table to enjoy. A favorite on the menu is their Batata Harra, deep-fried potatoes tossed in citrus, cilantro, and spices. Another popular choice is their mixed grill, with well-seasoned shish kafta, shish tawook, and shish kebab served over a warm pita, which they make fresh daily.
Besides the menu, Leila also influenced the style of the restaurant. As General Manager, Matthew Hollander explained, Leila is known for her chic style, and the restaurant emulates that. There are plush chairs to sit on, ornate tilework, with some bohemian-style rugs and greenery to add some warmth to the large restaurant.
For the full story, watch the video above.
Leila is located at 1245 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226.