The best Mediterranean restaurant options in L.A.
The whole city seemed to collectively freak out with the arrival of Dune, a small falafel joint from Scott Zwiezen of Elf Cafe. The Atwater Village eatery still draws a consistent crowd, with a line that quickly spills out the door and hungry diners hovering over the few places to sit. And yet, it's totally worth the wait. Dune's menu is small; sandwiches include falafel wrapped in house flatbread, lamb with lemon turmeric yogurt, and pickled beets and feta on ciabatta, all around $8-$10 and all made with unbelievably fresh ingredients. There are plates available with hummus, and sides that include tabbouleh. To drink, a killer kombucha fizzles with fragrant rosewater notes. Oh, and the falafel? Crisp on the outside, warm and fluffy on the inside, and yup, it's pretty much perfection. And Downtowners rejoice—a new location just opened around the corner from the Ace Hotel.
Kobee’s Syrian-style eats are certainly the best in the Valley, and probably even all of L.A. The meats and hummus are extraordinary. If you’re in search of a cheap lunch spot, look no further than one of Kobee’s shawarma sandwiches. If you're sick of the standard Mediterranean fare you find at some many L.A. restaurants, order the stuffed lamb intestines with minced lamb, rice and spices. It’s one of the best things you can eat in the city.
If you're heard about Attari before, it probably has something to do with the cafe's famous sandwiches. The shop itself is tiny, with a counter, a deli case and a couple of tables. Order inside, like the popular beef tongue sandwich or the chicken olivieh, which is like a better version of a chicken salad, both which are served on a fresh, crusty baguette. Other traditional dishes like ash-e joe (lentil soup) and koobideh (beef) kabob with lavash bread are the highlights of the cafe's short menu. Take your food outside to the cafe's courtyard fountain, or take it to go. This is a popular lunch spot for the Westwood crowd.
It can be hard to find great falafel in Los Angeles, but Amir's Falafel, found in a small strip mall in Studio City, is doing it right. The place is unflinchingly delicious and the lineup of Middle Eastern salads is hard to beat, making it a top-tier destination for vegetarians. There's a lot to choose from, so go for one of the combo plates to maximize your sampling. Along with shawarma and shish kabob, Amir's offers freshly-made hummus and pita, and a variety of pickled veggies to try. And then, of course, there's the falafel, crisp on the outside with a well-seasoned chickpea mix on the inside. And whatever you do, don’t leave without some of their homemade hot sauce.
Perhaps the most lauded opening of 2017 so far has been Kismet, a new Turkish/Mediterranean option on the Hollywood stretch of Los Feliz. Brought to you by Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson (who are also behind Grand Central Market’s falafel haven Madcapra), with pastries by Sqirl’s Meadow Ramse. It's packed to the gills with excellent shareables and snacks, like broccoli toast, shakshuka, and insane flakey bread &anddips. The place is a winner, with a menu impossible to miss on. It’s popular, so expect a wait.
It’s not hard to find falafel in Los Angeles—it’s not even hard to find kosher falafel in Los Angeles—but good God is it hard to find great falafel. Enter Ta-eem Grill. Named after the Hebrew word for “tasty,” this bonafide kosher WeHo restaurant serves up authentic Israeli cuisine and some damn tasty falafel. The falafel pita is true to its roots with hummus and tahini, plus your choice of Israeli salad, various sauces and pickled vegetables, all stuffed in an oh-so-fluffy pocket of pita. We suggest washing it down with a grapefruit Prigat, one of Israel’s many delicious, sugary juice drinks.
Falafel Arax has been an L.A. institution since 1980, and with some shiny new Studio City & Glendale locations, it’s starting to spread around. The cash-only mecca does falafel better and cheaper than most ($0.70 a piece!), as well as plates, sandwiches and specialty Armenian sausage. Load up a plate full of all the goodies you want, and don’t forget to add grape leaves.