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Jan 28, 2010 05:34 AM

Alcazar Express in Westwood

Driving up Westwood Blvd between Santa Monica and Wilshire, starving, I was on the lookout for a place to land.

Sunnin, Ambala Dhaba, Pomodoro, Soleil, the various fancy Persian and Italian places, sushi, Thai… WTF – Alcazar??? U-turn in traffic on Westwood, find a parking space at a failed parking meter and walk a coupla blocks south to check it out.

I’ve been to the Alcazar in Encino, and frankly I’ve never been blown away. But I had a hankering for Mid East food, so I had to try it.

GRAND OPENING was the sign.

Inside, it was clean, a lot larger than it appears from the front, with a whole back room for additional seating.

Service was nothing short of outstanding… very friendly and attentive but not overbearing.

Once I ordered, I was presented with a basket of pita and bowls of green olives and pickles (pink pickled turnips).

Shortly, a salad of romaine, Persian cucumbers and tomatoes arrived. It was dressed in a delightful lemon and parsley vinaigrette. The lemon flavor really came through and added a nice freshness.

And with it came a small bowl of baba ghanouj. This could very well be the best baba ghanouj I’ve had in years. It was quite smoky-tasting, but light. It was not heavy at all. It had some olive oil poured into an indentation in the middle, and it was a real treat.

The lamb kabob was tender, but dry. When I originally ordered it, the waiter asked if I wanted it well done or medium well. Of course I selected medium well, but in hindsight, I should have just said medium. But for being overcooked (imho), it was still remarkably tender… a little dry, but tender. And the dryness could easily be overcome by including a pickle while making little sandwiches in the pita.

It came with a roasted tomato, which was also useful in combating the dryness of the lamb. It had a unique flavor; maybe it was marinated before cooking. It was slightly tangy, and I liked it.

The rice pilaf was cooked perfectly. Tender and moist, with the individual grains keeping to themselves and not glomming together. It would have been nice if there was a jar of sumac to sprinkle over the top of the rice, but it really wasn’t necessary.

Over the top of the lamb were slices of grilled pita with a paprika and shallot coating. These were flavorful and an interesting change from the plain pita in the basket. And they were considerably fresher than the ones I’ve had at the original Alcazar in Encino.

In fact, my meals at the Encino Alcazar have never been as good as this meal.

This is a good addition to the area. The above, with a diet coke, was $16, including a surcharge for lamb instead of chicken. The regular lunch special is $9.95, and includes all of the above with chicken instead of lamb. There are also several other selections on the $9.95 lunch special menu including salmon, shwarma, lula kabob and a veggie plate… a total bargain in my view.

Alcazar Express
1303 Westwood Boulevard (3 blocks south of Wilshire)
(310) 914-9777

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  1. Thanks for the write-up; however, I thought I might add a few clarifications:

    ~ And Lunch Specialty Sandwiches for $6.95 to $8.95 with pita in a basket, olives, & pickled turnips + 1 side. A totally awesomesque bargain ?
    ~ Lunch specials also good on Saturday.
    ~ It's actually closer to 1 1/5 blocks south of Wilshire (Pomodoro is 3 blocks south).
    ~ They now have their own web address:

    1. They do a bang up job indeed.

      The Grand Opening sign is still up?!

      1. I really love this place, but I worry they're not getting enough business. It's been empty almost every time I've gone, though I tend to hit them at off hours. Perhaps that's why the sign is still up?

        1. I got a sandwich takeout there a few weeks ago and it was great, and under $10.00 with pickles on the side (and I think pita too.) I agree, the restaurant was too empty--I'd like it to stick around.

          1. As with others on that stretch of Westwood Blvd, the key limiting factor is parking. A couple of places have arrangements to validate in the Borders structure, otherwise it can be a frustrating hit or miss.

            5 Replies
            1. re: nosh

              Side streets, people, side streets...

              1. re: J.L.

                There is very little side-street parking, unfortunately. It really is a problem in that area.

                1. re: Jwsel

                  Uh, I actually live within a few blocks of Alcazar Express (been there over 9 years), and I can say with much authority and expertise that there IS street parking.

                  Sure, not always within 1 block of the restaurant, but if you look further down on Wellworth, Ashton, Midvale, Rochester, or Veteran, you WILL find it. Be persistent.

                  When I have guests visiting me, I've never had a single complaint them about not finding a street parking spot. Sure not always within 1 block, but the spots ARE there.

                  1. re: J.L.

                    The parking is definitely a problem. I, too, have found parking on the side streets at night (as I recall, otmosando recommends parking in the library during the day). Like JL, however, I live close enough that I usually walk or take the bus.

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      Plus they offer valet parking. It is more than worth the visit.