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Apr 3, 2009 10:26 AM

good middle eastern on Westwood?

Hey Chowhounds,

I am taking a friend to lunch next week and she wanted middle eastern - doesn't have to be fancy, just tasty. I used to go to Shamshirri, but I just read some reviews and it seems the place has gone downhill. Would love any other suggestions for someplace that won't be hard to get seated at lunch.


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  1. Sunnin for general middle eastern or Bella Pita if you just want falafel. Another place to consider is Atarri Sandwiches, which is Persian but a lot of fun for lunch.

    6 Replies
    1. re: a_and_w

      Agreed on Bella Pita and Attari sandwiches.

      Bella Pita is the best falafel I've had, always made up fresh. They have another location somewhere on Westwood blvd north of Pico, too.

      Attari is very casual, but the sandwiches are quite good. Not as mind-blowing as Bella Pita, IMHO.

      Attari Sandwich Shop
      1388 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

      Bella Pita
      960 Gayley Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024

      1. re: hhewitt

        Interesting...I personally would rate Attari above Bella Pita. My mind was blown by the kookoo sabzi sandwich and the ash soup. Plus, I love that little courtyard, though it can get crowded.

        1. re: a_and_w

          i concur with a_and_w,
          to me, attari is superior to bella pita.
          in addition to the asch soup and the koo koo sandwich, imho, attari's shirazi salad is superior to that of shamshiri and those of most of the other persian restaurants in the neighborhood.

          1. re: westsidegal

            Well, I wasn't talking about ambiance, I'll admit Attari has much more of that. The courtyard at Attari is lovely.

            By my memory (it's been a while since I've been to Attari), Bella Pita does come out as the cheaper meal. That's usually what I personally gravitate to.

            1 Falafel Pita < 1 sandwich + 1 soup

            1. re: hhewitt

              if cheap is what you want, then leave westwood and go to the hungry pocket on pico in santa monica.
              a terrific, freshly-made falafal sandwich is about $3 to $4 irrc. be sure to get some of their fantastic homemade piquante sauce

              1. re: westsidegal

                Hmmm... good to know for my travels. For day-to-day, Bella Pita is within walking distance of my office... but piquante sauce sounds great!

    2. Middle Eastern... Lebanese? Egyptian? Israeli?

      I guess you mean Persian, by your post. Any particular cuisine your & your friend looking for?

      3 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        I think most of the middle eastern I've had is Lebanese or Persian. But I'm interested in Egyptian and have never had Israeli if you'd like to suggest something! Thank you so much!

        1. re: Lynndsey Rigberg

          Egyptian: Cafe Dahab, on Sawtelle, just south of SM Blvd. Try their Fuul.

          Lebanese: Byblos is OK. The bellydancer factor is there on weekends.

          Persian: Javan (on SM Blvd.) or Shaherzad (good bread)

          1. re: J.L.

            Byblos is actually open? the subterranean place? What's up with that place?

            I ate at Shaherzad recently. I frequent Javan (and Darya) because I'm so close but Shaherzad is WAY better. The koobideh (ground, spiced) meats are made with much more care and their bademjan is glorious. The bread, as you mention, made on site in a tandoor, is legendary.

            1422 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

      2. I recently went to Shamshiri and the food was excellent. The service, on the other hand, was possibly the worst I've had in quite some time. In any case, if the service isn't too important to you and you know what you're getting into, I'd say Shamshiri is still pretty good.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mrshankly

          i had my first disappointing lunch at shamshiri last week. (this place is on my normal rotation)
          i'm hoping it was a fluke.
          the shirazi salad was not as fresh as it normally is; the cucumber had a strange sogginess and a tranlucency that it should not have had and normally does not have.
          also, the falafal, which i normally adore, wasn't served crispy-from-the-fryer as it normally is: it seemed like it had been waiting to be served. . . .

          i will go back next week to see if this was a fluke or whether this is the new normal.

          1. re: westsidegal

            Shamshiri was posted under "listage" about a month ago on which I think (?) means it's been put up for sale. Anyway, I read elsewhere that they've cut back on staff to save money which is why their service has been so slow, or almost nonexistant, over the last several months.

        2. I've enjoyed Shamshiri - still find it good. Enjoy the lamb neck.

          For WLA, Javan (SM & Butler), Darya (SM & Bundy) are both quite good as well. I prefer bread at Javan. Cafe Dahab (egyption) is ok -

          Canary has some interesting items but not yet tried it yet. On Westwood I believe.
          Sunnin is ok. Flame is simple but gets job done for good price.

          I've heard Byblos is good.

          1 Reply
          1. re: travelingmansoul

            Try Sham in Santa Monica for Arabic food sometime to see how it compares.

            Sham Restaurant
            716 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

          2. Does anyone know if they ever opened up that Alcazar Express in Westwood?

            5 Replies
            1. re: a_and_w

              I walked by it on Monday, and the windows were still covered by paper.

              The easy solution is to simply call the Encino Alcazar and ask.

                1. re: a_and_w

                  Made it to Alcazar Westwood today for lunch and was really impressed! Ordered a shish-taouk sandwich, which comes with hummus, bread, olives, and pickles on the side. The chicken breast was well marinated and juicy, and I loved the inclusion of french fries on the sandwich, which is something I don't often see at Middle Eastern places in LA. The lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles therein all tasted fresh, and the garlic sauce had a nice bite. All in all, a small but well executed sandwich.

                  The real revelation was the side of hummus, which was wonderfully creamy with a perfect balance of tahini and olive oil. Most places either use too much tahini (Sham) or too much lemon (Sunnin) for my taste. I still haven't tried Hummus Grill, Carousel, or Marouch, but Alcazar's hummus was the best I've had thus far. Even the bread was perfect, thin yet substantial enough for scraping the last traces of hummus from the bowl.

                  About my only complaints were the high price ($15 for a small sandwich and side of hummus, drink with refills, plus tip) and the slightly spacey service. In my view, however, these minor qualms were easily overwhelmed by the quality of the food.

                  1. re: a_and_w

                    oh, coo, so it's open noiw, sounds good this joint replaced danube, correct????