Family restaurant Damascus serves up authentic Syrian food
Damascus is serving up authentic Syrian food and a taste of home in central Wellington
Damascus is a restaurant on Tory Street, tucked just off bustling Courtenay Place. Run by husband and wife duo Hasan and Flora, Damascus serves up authentic Syrian food using Hasan's family recipes for lunch and dinner.
Expect best-ever versions of well-known Middle Eastern dishes like falafel, hummus, and other mezze dishes. This family-friendly restaurant has a laidback and comfortable vibe, welcoming atmosphere, and beautiful decor.
When Hasan and Flora first met and fell in love they were living in Dubai. Flora is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Hasan is from Swaida, Syria, but they both shared a passion and talent for cooking that they had learnt from their families. Soon after, Flora got offered a job as a pastry chef in Wellington and luckily for us – she took it.
Settling into life in the capital, the couple set up a successful food truck that they named Damascus (after the capital of Syria). Four years on, Damascus found a permanent home at Vogelmorn Bowling Club, a quirky and cool spot that locals loved. After continued success, they moved to the city to bring their authentic Syrian flavours to central Wellington.
The food served at Damascus is the food that Hasan grew up eating, and it has become the food he cooks at home for his young children. “This is family food, homey food and when you eat it, you can feel the love and the care that has gone into making it,” he says.
...it’s been heart-warming to see how much people are enjoying our food.
Flora and Hasan, owners of Damascus
With beautiful blue walls with hand-painted art and colourful pendants above, the restaurant feels warm and intimate. It’s important for Hasan and Flora that the restaurant is welcoming and accessible for families and people with dietary requirements. The menu has lots of gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian dishes.
Pastry chef Flora makes the incredible baklava, golden with honey and stuffed with jewel-like pistachios, luscious handmade ice cream and other treats. Hasan looks after the savoury side of things, making tahini from scratch (he estimates they go through 25-50kg of sesame seeds each month), kneading dough for the flatbreads, soaking chickpeas and making jibin (a Syrian cheese like feta but not as salty).
Hasan can’t choose a favourite dish from the menu as their food is made to be eaten mezze-style with a selection of dishes enjoyed together. The response from diners has overwhelmed Flora and Hasan. “I don’t know how to describe it – it’s been heart-warming to see how much people are enjoying our food.”