Free Wally

An Emeryville diner with a Lebanese accent

Wally's Café is as sneaky as sit-down restaurants get.

It sits in the back of The Bank Club bar, directly across the street from a Pak 'N Save parking lot in Emeryville.

Trickier still, Wally's is the last place you'd think to look for real-deal Lebanese dishes–all hidden among a menu of American eats.

Dressed in a white chef's shirt, Wally Matar holds court in the open kitchen, serving gratis snacks to customers seated on high swiveling chairs.

His chicken pomegranate ($12) is deservedly popular. The half-blackened bits of chicken come strewn across a buttery rice pilaf, joined by sumac-spiked salad and dollops of yogurt and snow-white skordalia (a purée of potato and garlic).

On a bite of pita, the latter tastes harsh; swirled across the plate, though, it balances the chicken's sweetness.

Accompany that platter–or the excellent onion-laced kofta burger ($7)–with a $3 Trumer Pils from The Bank Club and wait for the freebies, including lentil soup and a square of baklava that trounces the chewy, cloying standard.

If that's not adventure enough, Wally's is also known for other off-menu curiosities like coffee infused with cardamom ($2), and a host of revolving specials such as keftah kebabs ($12).

Wally's Café, 3900 San Pablo Ave. (at Yerba Buena Ave.), Emeryville; 510-597-1303