No matter how or what you order, you won’t be bored at Saffy’s, the East Hollywood eatery run by Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis, the couple behind citywide favorites Bavel and Bestia. Named after their daughter Saffron, the newest addition spurns the former’s spendier large-format Middle Eastern-inspired dishes in favor of small plates and main courses best shared between two. Despite significant overlap—Menashe’s creamy hummus tastes just as marvelous on Fountain Avenue as Mateo Street—the unique menu offerings, particularly the city’s best sit-down kebabs, and the restaurant’s more laidback ambience distinguish Saffy’s from its pricier siblings in the Arts District.
Each juicy kebab—two to an order—comes individually seasoned, including the grilled lobster skewer hidden among the appetizers. Topped with a squeeze of lime and serrano-tinged yogurt, the green harissa marinade cuts the meat’s inherent richness and makes the splurge on seafood well worth the cost of entry. The larger “dish kebab” and wood-fired shawarma plates (both made with beef and lamb) have their own merits, but overall wow less than the kebabs, which arrive at the table still impaled on skewers, ready to be ferried off with accompanying flatbread. To zig while others zag, opt for the red snapper tagine, a subtly gingery blend of perfectly flaky fish and potatoes in tomato sauce served alongside coconut rice.
The appetizer and dessert sections offer equally compelling delights, from a tureen of mussels whose creamy turmeric-yellow sauce recalls khao soi to Gergis’s rotating flavors of refreshing soft-serve. Overall, the tightly curated menu contains few, if any, missteps; even those who don’t eat meat will find plenty of satisfying small plates, and the house cocktails are just as excellent. No matter what, make sure the roasted carrots hit the table; spiced with a proprietary blend of ras el-hanout and slathered in labneh, the tender $18 vegetable dish more than justifies its fairly high (while still approachable) price, like everything else at Saffy’s. Despite being billed as more casual than Bavel or Bestia—and the kind of place Menashe and Gergis wish you’d make your go-to hangout spot—the reality is that Saffy’s stays much in the mold of its older siblings: a sought-after, somewhat pricey night out, especially when drinks get involved.
Similar to Menashe and Gergis’s other restaurants, superb and efficient service at Saffy’s remains the norm, and prime dinnertime tables book up far in advance; walk-ins, while technically accepted, might be turned away on busier nights or face wait times of an hour or more. For a meal at, say, 6:30 or 8:15pm, you’ll need to look 30 days out online—not exactly the makings of a relaxed get-together. Otherwise, most slots for a table run late, and the later dinner hour, as evidenced by the stylishly dressed crowd milling about well past 9pm, doesn’t seem to bother the restaurant’s generally fashionable, in-the-know clientele.
A question in my mind still lingers: Should a meal at Saffy’s take the place of a night out at Bavel? The answer depends on your budget and personal preference. A high-drama blockbuster dinner in the Arts District is quite unlike a stylish, low-key meal offered on Fountain Avenue (which the equally stylish, low-key Found Oyster also calls home). Booze notwithstanding, Saffy’s will cost slightly less than Bavel, while delivering the same level of profound gustatory satisfaction Angelenos now expect from Menashe and Gergis. It might also make for a mildly less impressive date night, but the relative novelty, for now, gives Saffy’s a clear edge.
The vibe: Understatedly cool, the glittering Art Deco-inflected indoor space and newer outdoor patio attracts a stylish, younger crowd full of creative types.
The food: Middle Eastern-ish appetizers, must-try kebabs and a few solid desserts. Don’t skip ordering the hummus (ful or tahini) on your first visit here.
The drink: House cocktails—try the tequila-spiked cherry limeade with a scoop of sherbet for an adult ice cream float—plus a full bar and wines by the glass and bottle.
Time Out tip: In the area during the day? Pick up loaves of the delicious sesame seed challah at Saffy’s Coffee and Tea next door (open daily 8–3pm).