Growing up in Canosia Township outside of Duluth, Lyla Abukhodair didn't advertise that her family was Palestinian.

"I always said we were Arabic," she said. To her knowledge, they were the only Palestinian family in the area, where "school curriculum, the news ... it wasn't very Palestinian- or Muslim-sympathetic."

But as she grew into adulthood, she embraced that identity and the journey her father made to give her and her siblings the life they know.

"Now, it is such an honor to tell this story. For my father it was survival instinct: Be the immigrant you're supposed to be. Do your job. Assimilate. It's a huge reason I wanted to call this place Falastin," she said. (It's the Palestinian word for Palestine.) "It exists — and we must exist in our truth. And there is no way to tell this story without this food."

Falastin began as a Duluth pop-up with Abukhodair and her husband, Sam Miller, and mother, Ann Abukhodair, preparing recipes and creating experiences. They were met with overwhelming support from the community. When the search began for a permanent home, they found an ideal space in the city's Lakeside neighborhood in the former New London Cafe (4721 E. Superior St.). Built in 1936, the warm-toned brick building has housed markets, restaurants, a coffee shop and more, and the layout was perfect to house the market they wanted to include.

Falastin opened in early May and is open on Fridays and Saturdays. In the market, there are hand-woven rugs made by women in Palestine and Jordan, and farm-direct goods from Palestine. "We wanted to have items that you would find on the streets of Jerusalem or Bethlehem," Abukhodair said. There are different types of rice, hand-rolled grains, little green olives that carry a distinctive salty bitter bite, imported sumac and teas — ingredients so visitors can bring home a taste of what they sample.

Guests are welcome to just shop, but the menu and aromas ought to be enough to tempt a person to snag one of the available tables and sit awhile.

Miller is leading the coffee program, coaxing a depth of flavor from the beans. (He and Abukhodair met through her brother's friends at Duluth Coffee Co.) Coffee is available by the bag or in espresso drinks. There's also tea, including shay bil maramiya, sage leaves steeped with black tea and sweetened with sugar, and karkade, iced hibiscus tea steeped with ginger and pomegranate.

The first food item to make the menu was her father's falafel. "We still call him Papa Falafel," Abukhodair said.

But that's just the start: Fresh hummus comes on a platter with a tabbouleh salad. Manoush bread is topped with za'atar imported from Palestine. Pickles abound, with blush pink turnips, zesty cauliflower and tart cucumbers livening up the spread.

"We're starting off with a lentil soup, shorbet adas, that has this beautiful viscosity and it's so, so good for you," Abukhodair said. "The kings and queens would eat that. It's supposed to make your kids really smart. It's good for brain development. So, I grew up eating it."

There's also a garlicky lemon soup, housemade labneh, dips and baklava and halvah to satisfy the sweet tooth.

"We're starting with what we really know, these are core dishes," Abukhodair said. "Once we get in the groove of things, we'll be able to get into specials and other traditional Palestinian dishes."

For all three, the busyness of creating Falastin carries with it an undercurrent of what world events mean for them as a family and as a team creating something that's deeply personal and new to the city. They believe Falastin is Duluth's first Palestinian restaurant.

"It feels a little scary at times, but in a good way," Abukhodair said. "But I've always believed in putting it all out there. If you're doing you and you're open to learning within yourself, you really can't be doing the wrong thing."

Falastin, 4721 E. Superior St., Duluth, Open 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Fri.-Sat.