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The Eater Boston Guide to Ooey, Gooey Cheese Breads

From khachapuri to sfiha, the Hub boasts some excellent cheese breads of the Caucasus, Levant, and more

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Overhead view of five colorful Eastern Mediterranean dishes
Ilona offers a number of excellent cheese breads, including manakish, imeruli khachapuri, and mkhlovani
Sophie Benzie

Boston’s food scene has several restaurants offering a popular Georgian bread called Adjarian khachapuri, which is rolled on the edges to form a boat, perfect for nestling cheese, butter, and an egg. In addition to the boat-shaped version, there are many other varieties of this dish that vary by shape, technique, type of cheese, and toppings. But Adjarian khachapuri isn’t the only cheese bread diners can find in Boston. Others include:

  • Manakish (or manakeesh, m’anoush, manaeesh, manaqish, or manousheh) is a popular breakfast and lunch food in many regions across the Levant. The dough is rolled thin, then dimpled, creating the perfect pockets to hold its toppings (za’atar and cheese are popular options).
  • Mkhlovani is a closely related cousin to khachapuri, and is stuffed with a mixture of cheese and either spinach or beetroot leaves.
  • Sfiha (or sfeeha) is a flatbread that’s typically topped with ground lamb, and is also popular in a number of cuisines across the Levant. Lebanese and Syrian immigrants introduced a version to Brazil, known as esfiha or esfirra, which is typically topped with cheese, curd, beef, lamb, and vegetables.
  • Pide is a Turkish bread made with a thin dough shaped into a long boat, and often topped with sujuk (a spicy fermented sausage) or cheese.

This guide will walk you through an incomplete but delicious list of the various cheese breads of the Caucasus, Levant, and Turkey that Boston has to offer.

Please note that a number of Massachusetts restaurants have resumed dine-in service, and the level of service offered is indicated on each map point. However, this should not be taken as endorsement for dining in, as there are still safety concerns: For updated information on coronavirus cases in the area, please visit the Massachusetts coronavirus website.

Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.


Ajeen

1219 Commonwealth Ave., Allston

Ajeen serves a number of flatbreads that can be customized by topping (za’atar, cheese, sujuk, muhammara, and more) and shape: folded, sandwich, or open. Ajeen is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Ilona

783 Tremont St., South End

Three outstanding breads await you at Ilona: manakish, imeruli khachapuri, and mkhlovani. Imeruli khachapuri differs from other khachapuri in that it is stuffed rather than topped with cheese. Ilona’s mkhlovani is stuffed with cheese as well, and packed with a melody of kale, Swiss chard, spinach, mushrooms, and garlic. Ilona is open for indoor dining, as well as takeout and delivery.

Overhead view of five colorful Eastern Mediterranean dishes Sophie Benzie

Ali Baba Restaurant

99 A Cambridge St., Charlestown

When biting into a cheese-topped pide from Ali Baba, the tangy, salty cheese is mellowed out perfectly by the thin and crispy dough. For another traditional Turkish preparation, try pide topped with pastirmali (a seasoned, cured beef). Ali Baba is open for takeout and delivery.

Jana Grill and Bakery

2 Watertown St., Watertown

The Adjarian khachapuri is divine, but don’t forget to give Jana’s Megruli khachapuri a try as well. This one is circular, and is not only stuffed with cheese, but also topped with cheese. Enjoy. Jana is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Tarboosh

2 Brighton Ave., Allston

This family owned and operated spot serves Syrian cuisine, and offers a variety of manakish, including one with cheese (diners can add za’atar as well), in addition to sweet versions made with cheese and honey, or even Nutella. Tarboosh is open for takeout and delivery.

Anoush’ella

35 W Newton St., South End

Many dishes at Anoush’ella begin with its m’anoush, and build from there. The restaurant’s grilled halloumi m’anoush with walnut harissa, arugula, pomegranate, and mint is one of its very best bites. Anoush’ella is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Sufra

52 Queensberry St., Fenway

Sufra’s choices for cheesy manousheh come with a particular kind of cheese called akkawi, which is a soft white brine cheese. Sufra’s egg and akkawi manousheh goes best with a freshly squeezed juice. It’s a truly perfect brunch. Sufra is open for takeout and delivery.

Manousheh from Sufra in a pizza box on a patio. Karen Wilber/Eater

anoush'ella

35 West Newton Street, , MA 02118 (857) 265-3195 Visit Website

Tarboosh شاورما عربي مناقيش مشاوي

2 Brighton Avenue, , MA 02134 (617) 671-5939

ilona

783 Tremont Street, , MA 02118 (617) 207-7742 Visit Website

Sufra Mediterranean Food

52 Queensberry Street, , MA 02215 (781) 645-8080 Visit Website

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