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Best Israeli food in LA?

Hi all,

I'm trying to figure out what the best Israeli/middle eastrern place in LA is. Please note that by Israeli i don't necassarily mean Matzah ball soup or Kosher. I'm talking authentic dishes, slightly rude waiters and delicious small salads that I have never seen before in my life.
Oh, and I would like to stay local, no 818 please.

thoughts?

thanks!

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  1. Local to what? The 818 is part of L.A. and home to some great Israeli places, but I know there are some others around Pico.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chowpatty

      sorry, I meant LA city, Hollywood, WeHO. Fairfax would be awesome I know there are a lot of small hole-in-the-wall places, I just need to know whicc ones are good.

    2. Hafia on Pico might be what you are looking for. i was there a few years back and liked it very much..

      -----
      Haifa
      8717 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035

      1 Reply
      1. re: Foodandwine

        Yep - Haifa is the place to go.
        Mildly rude waiters, tons of little salads, everything in a pita or plate, and the food is pretty decent.

      2. Aroma cafe on Sunset. Not only is the food authentic Israeli, but the girls serving you have the requisite attitudes and the tables next to you will be speaking Hebrew.

        2 Replies
        1. re: hyacinthgirl

          Aroma Cafe in Encino is a great spot for Israeli food.

          Also for the best Israeli Laffa around try Pita Pocket in Reseda on Reseda & Nordhoff.

          Report back,

          Stuart

          1. re: Hypnotic23

            ah, pita pocket a little further north valley is delicious in their fresh-baked bread.

        2. Though unfortunately I haven't been there in a couple of years-- so this is on the assumption the quality hasn't changed-- the hands-down winner for me is King David Grill on Pico just east of La Cienega. They serve their shwarma with french fries inside-- just like it was served to me in Israel. Also a great lentil soup. You can eat your meal while watching satellite TV in Hebrew.

          I used three live three blocks away from Haifa Restaurant and was never brave enough to venture inside.

          2 Replies
            1. re: Ciao Bob

              Honestly, I can't remember why anymore! Maybe it was the garish decor (garish even for ethnic standards). I'm sorry, I certainly shouldn't publicly criticize a place I never even walked in to.

          1. Hands down, HUMMUS BAR in Tarzana. I know it's not in the city, but it's worth the drive -- I drive out there from the city two or three times a month. Haifa and King David don't really compare. Hummus Bar makes their own laffas fresh -- just like in Israel (they have them with zaatar also). Best shawarma, falafel, lamb, etc. Highly recommend.

            12 Replies
            1. re: nsxman

              And don't forget Hummus Bar has all the little salads, and the Israeli waitress's with attitudes. Its exactly what you're looking for.

              1. re: ldodb

                i actually think they have more of the authentic attitude you are seeking at Aroma.

              2. re: nsxman

                I agree with Hummus Bar. It is worth the drive. And a good portion of the clientele are Israeli.

                1. re: mrfood16

                  ok, thanks guys! Very helpful... The only problem with these hole in the wall places is that the food needs to justify the atmosphere. There is a fine line between authentic and a dump. Anyway I am going to sample Haifa now, will report back.

                  shalom!

                  1. re: three_eyed_fish

                    You might want to also try Habayit on Pico just east of Bundy.
                    But definitely try Hummus Bar.
                    Links added.

                    -----
                    Habayit
                    11921 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                    Hummus Bar and Grill
                    18743 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, CA 91356

                    1. re: three_eyed_fish

                      It's not a dump by any stretch of the imagination, it's just not fancy.

                      I love the place. It's funny you mention the salads-you've-never-heard-of because my first visit there, I asked the waitress to give me a run down of the salads they were offering that day - she had to go find a waitress who spoke enough english to translate everything... I'm sure my blank look had something to do with it.

                      Also agree with pita pocket in Northridge. Both places are family owned Israeli joints with a predominantly Israeli clientele (is it just me or are all Israeli women incredibly beautiful) and both places make their own laffa to order.

                      1. re: jencounter

                        oh, man don't get me started on israeli wommen. hot stuff, and feisty as hell, but i'm digressing.

                        is pita pocket in northridge israeli-owned>????

                        1. re: kevin

                          Yes, it is. A husband and wife - super nice people.

                          All of the waitresses at Hummus Bar are gorgeous - and I've never really noticed any bad attitude there.

                      2. re: three_eyed_fish

                        haifa is not really a dump though at all.

                        but then again i have a higher tolerance for crummy looking joints (a new place with great food and service but crummy decor that comes to mind is mariccos chente and hounds still love it beyond compare.

                    2. re: nsxman

                      I must disagree in part. The salads and hummus were, on whole, tasty and the laffas very hot, fresh and tasty (indeed among the best I’ve had in quite some time), the remainder of our meal, however, was mediocre at best. My schnitzel was good, not great and my wife’s shwarma was de-flavorized. The sides were less than spectacular with the exception of the red cabbage. If in the area I would head to Golan, Carnival or Pita King over Hummus Bar without hesitation.

                      1. re: nsxman

                        I used to adore Hummus Bar, but it seems to have slipped several notches since it started serving meat and changed its name - it's almost okay that the kebabs are wretched, but the hummus has changed a lot too.

                        1. re: condiment

                          i thing once they changed over to the Grill, rather than just be a HUMMUS ONLY joint, the quality of the hummus suffered tremendously. it is much busier now that there are kababs on the menu, along with other grilled meats and grilled fish. they even have foie gras and grilled chicken hearts.

                      2. maybe ignorant question but what makes it israeli? the fact that the owners are from israel and the clientele jewish? seems like from the responses that any middle eastern place would do? is kosher a prerequisite?

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: lakeshow318

                          well, one thing, Kosher is definintely not a prerequisite, allthough sometimes there is some overlap.

                          israeli salads are way different than other middle eastern countries. also, the falafels are different, i guess the fries add to it.

                          1. re: kevin

                            what's the difference in the salads and falaffels? are there any spots in west LA that serve israeli style middle eastern?

                            1. re: lakeshow318

                              that would be Habayit on Pico, near Bundy.

                              and also haifa, which is more of beverly hills area.

                              i also think they israeli falafels either use chickpeas or garbanzos or not both, or vice versa, whereas at a lebanese joint they might also be made with fava beans.

                              the quintessential isreaeli salads that is used in the falafel sandwich is a chopped cubed cucumber and cubed tomato salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

                                1. re: lakeshow318

                                  Thanks everyone for all the comments!
                                  So, here are my thoughts after eating at Haifa yesterday for lunch: The food was good, maybe even great at times (hummus Ful) but it wasnt mindblowing which was more what I was looking for. I didn't mention that I am Israeli born and raised (and blushing a little by all the Israeli women talk here...) so my standards are a little different I guess.
                                  This post started because I promised a non-Israeli friend to give him a taste of the Israeli kitchen. Since I don't want to ruin our friendship by cooking for him, i am searching for the best restaurant out there. By the way - Israeli cooking I think is a nice mixture of Middle Eastern/Mediteranean. Lots of Israelis have roots in Lybia, Egypt, Greece, Morroco, Yemen and other places that have great food. Toss it all in with fresh veggies and lots of olive oil and there you go.

                                  1. re: three_eyed_fish

                                    Israeli cafe fare seems to have some European/eclectic influences as well. Dishes/ingredients like schnitzel, lots of fish, Euro-style/influenced pastries, various mushrooms and beets seem common in the Israeli cafes. When considering the diverse backgrounds of immigrants who have made Israel home post-WWII, it's no surprise that it has a somewhat unique take on its cuisine.

                                    I really enjoyed Hummus Bar & Grill in Tarzana. Mostly Israeli expats both working and eating there. The laffa is made fresh and is included with your meal. The salads can vary from ok to outstanding, and the hummus is pretty amazing. The waitresses are are just as one would expect. They're young, attractive, and can be a little brusk at first, drop in and out like ninjas with your food, and start to warm up to you after a few compliments and pleas...

                                    A few Israelis I know who live around the Westside find Aroma in Encino to be their go-to place. Again, mostly Israeli expats make up both the staff and the guests.

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      I loved Magic Carpet, although it was actually Yemenite, their Melawach and mixed salad place were both wonderful. Aroma is ok, I like their Shakshuka and their hummus with olives, but its no Magic Carpet.

                                      -----
                                      Aroma Bakery Cafe
                                      18047 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA

                                      1. re: noshie

                                        Don't tell my Israeli acquaintances that - Yemenite is definitely not Israeli to them. I've personally never eaten at either, but the hummus at Hummus Bar and Grill did amaze me.

                                        1. re: noshie

                                          Unfortunately, Magic Carpet closed at least a year ago. I also liked it.

                                          1. re: mrfood16

                                            Yes, thats right, a major blow as there is no substitute. Is Shula and Esther's still open on Fairfax? It had some connection to Magic Carpet, not as good at all to me and much more limited menu, but I liked their Iraqi sandwich.

                                            As for Yemenite not being Israeli food (and I'm certainly no expert on the subject of whether any of the Yemenite population live in Israel), the hummus, tahini, eggplant andcarrot salads on the combo salad plate at Magic Carpet blew away anything I had at Aroma and Habayit (although I do recall a nice kibbeh and hummus at Habayit, but its been some time)

                                            1. re: noshie

                                              Yes, Shula and Esther closed (i found out the hard way - called a number I found online and reached the cell phone of the very confused former owner). However there is some other Israeli restaurant there instead which I plan to check out today.
                                              I'll keep all the curious readers posted!

                                              1. re: noshie

                                                Well let me provide a bit of historical context. Yes, there are many Yemenite Jews living in Israel. To escape persecution in Yemen, 49,000 native Yemenite Jews were airlifted to Israel in 1949-1950, in an operation known as Operation Magic Carpet. (Hence the name of the restaurant!) Only a handful of Jews remain in Yemen today.

                                                I'm no expert either, but I believe Yemenite Jewish food such as was found at Magic Carpet has various influences: Arabic, Sephardi Jewish, and modern-day Israeli.

                              1. re: anabellechow

                                I have not, but I have been told by two Israelis who I consider food knowledgeable that it is great.

                                1. re: omotosando

                                  Muma is long gone... I live near it and see that it's now something called PitaWay. There's a place on Pico with the same name so I assume it's the same people.

                                  Theres also a decent kosher Israeli falafel shop on Melrose and I think Vista or Martel called TaEeem. Decent, not amazing, though.