A great Mediterranean atmosphere.
1328 Hornby Street, Vancouver – (604) 689-4050
My upstairs neighbor convinced me to go to Mona’s by telling me it was very authentic – though she is biased since she works as a waitress at Mona’s; I was still persuaded to try it since she is from Lebanon. I quickly glanced at some online reviews to see what to expect. And, that didn’t clear things up at all! Some of the reviews are regular “the food is okay”. Some say the place is great, especially since it changed management last year. But some of the reviews are GOD AWFUL. They warn potential patrons never to set foot in the door and they talk of the worst service in the world! The only common theme amongst all the reviews are that the ambiance is great. I was so intrigued I had to see for myself. Is Mona’s the worst ever? Or does it have authentic fantastic lebanese cuisine?
Answer: Authentic goodness all the way! I do understand why some people don’t like Mona’s, they think the service is too slow. But that maybe because they don’t realize: when you go to Mona’s it’s a complete night out. We were there for almost 3 hours! It’s not just going out to grab a quick dinner; it’s a long night of relaxed service bringing out delicious food in waves, a belly dancing show, a hopping dance floor complete with dj, and you can finish it all off in the shisha smoking room. It’s not the place to go for a fast business dinner – or if you have tickets to a movie in 45 minutes. Mona’s is a little expensive – but you’re paying for the whole package of a night out.
Mona’s is a big lively party on busy nights. Dim lighting and an assortment of chairs, couches, cushions, and comfy armchairs give patrons a relaxing view of the dancefloor – no matter where you’re seated. On quieter nights it’s a cozy place to unwind.
The food was all super delish! We tried the set menu that is offered on the weekend ($40/person). There is plenty of yummy food in this feat – a variety of dips with freshly made bread, appys, kabobs, sides, and baklava with coffee afterwards. Everything was tasty – but a few items stood out as being super fantastic: the garlicky hummus, the crispy falafel, the spicy sausages, the ultra tender beef kabob, and a savory veggie dish that was a mixture of eggplant, cauliflower, and zucchini.
The weekend menu also has a la carte dishes that mostly hit around the $10 mark. You could get away with only ordering 2 items – but for a really decent meal you’d need to select 3 items. The menu is quite varied and there are LOTS of veggie options. I admit the prices seem a little high for the portion sizes – but don’t forget that one aspect of Lebanese cuisine is the healthy manner their food is served: mezze. Like tapas, mezze is an array of small dishes that work together to create an array of colors, flavors, textures and aromas. I am always cautious when going out for tapas – because though the prices seem low – you end up ordering many items. This Lebanese mezze style is no different.
The drink list was good – with a handful of decent wines to choose from, some of my favorite beers (kronenbourg, heineken, leffe, hoegaarden), and some tasty looking martinis.
The belly dancing show started up around 9pm and it was intense! I’ve never seen a show that incorporated a sword. I found out afterwards that the dancer had spent 2 years training in Turkey. The men at our table were totally enamored – and my husband even offered to pay for me to take belly dancing lessons.
Unfortunately, because they were so busy on Saturday night, there was a long wait for a table in the aromatic shisha room. So we just decided to skip it. Besides that, our experience at Mona’s was pretty great. The service was polite, the food was delicious, and the dance show was fun.
Mona’s is a little pricey for everyday – but I would recommend it for a special evening out. The energy of the place combined with the dj and dance floor would make it a perfect destination for a birthday party on a weekend night.
Open nightly for dinner – and they will be open at lunchtime during the olympics. Call for reservations – Mona’s does have a large capacity but it gets full on the weekends. There is metered parking out front.
Bonus: Shisha room adjoining the bar. Extra bonus: Dance floor!
Anti-bonus: Our bill wasn’t correct so make sure to review yours carefully!
The Album Leaf – Into the blue again
This album is a nice slice of ambient relaxation with a dash of post-rock for party fun. A perfect way to unwind. I’ve said it before but here it is again – Yay! Sub pop!