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Jul 12, 2012 10:14 AM

Best Mediterranean/Middle East in the Valley (Encino, Tarzana, Sherman Oaks)

I am taking a friend to dinner and he requested mediteranean food, which I interpret to be middle eastern. Usually, I go to Alcazar for mezze, but I generally don't like their entrees and think my friend will probably want kebabs or chicken.

I want a decent sit-down place so a Zankou isn't an option. I know about Itzik Hagadol and Hummos Bar, but have never gone to either. And I pass Sadaf's big sign about "juicy chicken" all the time

So what would be the best options?

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  1. Joe's falafel for lafa sandwiches
    Hayat's Kitchen for middle eastern feasting (kebabs, falafel, veggie plates, etc. it's all good here)

    This is my conclusion based on the following places: zankou / hayats / knight / skafs / joes

    13 Replies
    1. re: ns1

      Sadaf Restaurant in Encino is the best Persian restaurant in the valley.

      1. re: ns1

        Second the recommendation for Joe's.

        As a matter of fact, I just had lunch there. You can't go wrong with either the falafel or chicken schwarma lafa sandwiches.

        The schwarma is delicious, however, best to get it early in the day when it's still freshly cooked on the spit and moist....had it for dinner once, and it was pretty dried out.

        1. re: GK in SO

          +1 chicken shwarma sandwich
          -1 beef kefta sandwich

          If you like spice you MUST get the hot sauce @ Joe's.

          1. re: ns1

            I appreciate the response, but I have to say that it is rather frustrating that you missed two key points from my original post. I asked for a place in Encino, Tarzana, or Sherman Oaks. Joe's is in Studio City, east of Lankershim. That's a good hour of driving back-and-forth in evening traffic. Second, maybe our ideas of a "decent sit-down place" are different, but ordering at a counter and getting your food served on plastic plates or in baskes doesn't seem to fit my idea. That's pretty much what I would get at Zankou, and Joe's sure doesn't look much different in the pictures I've seen.

            1. re: Jwsel

              So you should have titled your post "Best Mediterranean/Middle East in Encino Tarzana Sherman Oaks ONLY"

              1. re: Jwsel

                Highly recommend Hummus Bar & Grill in Tarzana. Not elegant at all, but a pleasant, casual sit-down place. Excellent (Israeli) food. Good kebobs, wonderful flat bread served straight from oven and the best (for me) is their array of combo salads.
                Also agree strongly w/ Carnival recommendation . Excellent kabobs & I particularly love their grilled quail. Carnival's a very casual space, rather brightly lit, but it is sit-down and excellent food. It's on Woodman just north of Ventura Blvd.

                1. re: Jwsel

                  The first part of your post said "valley", and I consider both NoHo and Studio City to be part of the valley.

                  Yes I think Joe's is a decent sit down place when compared to say, Tommy's. It's clean they're nice and they bring the food out to you.

                  Sorry we have different definitions of "decent"

                  1. re: Jwsel

                    "I appreciate the response, but I have to say that it is rather frustrating that you missed two key points from my original post.". Ha! Quite a grumpy request for help!!

                    Carnival is the answer to your question.

                  2. re: ns1

                    is the red sauce the shukh (sp?) or you talking about amba (the spicey manago sauce) or is he carrying both sauces?

                    also, do he serve gyro too ???? besides shwarma.

                    anyone have any clue if it's a lebanese, israeli, etc joint ???

                    I'm trying to figure out which places would serve that mango sauce.

                    1. re: kevin

                      I have no idea what the sauce is, I just ask for hot sauce. Definitely does not taste like any mango in there.

                      Yes they sell gyro but it sucks. The bread is awesome but the meat is terrible (imho). I'd get 10 chicken shwarmas before I got another gyro.

                      1. re: ns1

                        shoot, the gyyro sucks , like the pre-packaged boxed up Cones imported from chi-twon

                        like this seen here:


                  3. re: GK in SO

                    do they only have shwarma??? or do they carry beef/lamb gyros too? or do they refer to their shwarma as gyro ???

                    1. re: kevin

                      the shwarma is not the same as the gyro.

                2. Both Itzik Hagadol and Hummos Bar are excellent at what they do.

                  1. I've only been to the one in Westwood, but there is a Shamshiri in Northridge; The Westwood one is great.

                    1. The answer to your question is Carnival in Sherman Oaks. Excellent Lebanese.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: foodnmusic

                        No one has mentioned Simon's Cafe on Sepulveda, just south of the S/O Galleria, which is better than all those mentioned. But Carnival is good, yet only about one step above fast food in ambiance.

                        1. re: carter

                          Simon's Cafe is brilliant, he's a great chef and warm presence too. Makes everything himself as well as the desserts.

                          I always wonder why he's not more popular.

                          That reminds me that I'm seriously overdue on a visit there too.

                          1. re: kevin

                            I completely forgot about Simon's. Great recommendation! And also a good reminder that it's also time for me to make a return visit there.

                            1. re: kevin

                              May be we should have a chow function there!!!

                              1. re: carter

                                wow, a chow function, set it up carter.

                                1. re: kevin

                                  If anyone has an interest in sharing the dining experience that is Simon's Cafe, so state asap.
                                  We can surely set something up, board mods willing!!!

                                  1. re: carter

                                    Here is how to go about setting this up:

                                    Hounds on many different boards have organized dinners and other gatherings and they're always a lot of fun--plus the reports after are great chow tips!

                                    We have a couple of guidelines we ask organizers to follow in order to keep the focus of the boards on chow talk and not on RSVPs and other organizational details. The main guideline is that posts to the boards should be announcements (and followup reports!) only--all discussion, scheduling and RSVPing should happen off the boards.

                                    The way most people handle this is by posting an initial announcement to their local board with an email address for people to contact if they're interested in getting together for a Chowhound dinner. If you use the 'report' link on that announcement, you can ask us to sticky it to the top of the appropriate board so it doesn't fall off the front page.

                                    They then use email (some cities even have established Google or Yahoo groups or listservs, etc, for scheduling dinners) to discuss the specifics of where and when to meet. Please don't mention Chowhound when making reservations or arrangements for your chowdown. Many Chowhounds prefer to remain relatively anonymous, and, as with any other posts on Chowhound, chowdown reviews should represent a normal guest experiencing the restaurant just like any other customer. If hounds have received special treatment because of their participation on the site, we will be unable allow any discussion or reviews of the event to be posted.

                                    Once the group has decided on a concrete plan, you can post a second announcement to the boards, with the specific details, again, including an email address so people can RSVP offline. If you 'report' that one, we'll sticky it in place of the original thread.

                                    Once you reach your deadline for RSVPing, send us a quick email to remind us, and we'll unsticky the announcement post (using 'report' doesn't work on an already stickied post).

                                    Then, once your dinner has happened, start a new thread so people can report back on what they ate and whether it was delicious so other hounds can benefit from your experiences.

                                    Good luck with your event!

                                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                      sounds like a plan, though these rules and regulations sound quite difficult for me at the present time, if anyone is up to the challenge of setting it up, please do fall the houndly rules.

                                      and simon's is great, because it's also like it a home cooked meal by a very good chef.

                                      not i'm getting hungry again.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        Oy and vey!
                                        I'm no more interested than you are. I would like it to be like a Wednesday night around 7pm, maybe the 25th of July. I am already busy on the 18th.
                                        Tuesday could work though.
                                        Not Friday-Sunday, period.

                          2. re: foodnmusic

                            Agreed on the Carnival rec, terrific food and generous (!) portion sizes. Our nieces & nephews devour their meals there and they are are incredibly picky eaters.

                            1. re: Ciao Bob

                              I did hayats / knight / skafs / joes over the course of 5 days and Skafs fell to the bottom of the list. They used to be my favorite.

                              YMMV. This was @ the NoHo location.

                              1. re: ns1

                                Sorry to hear that. I cannot comment since I have never tried any of the others.

                                1. re: ns1

                                  i really like Pita Pocket, near CSUN on Reseda Blvd, I'm seriously overdue on a visit, and they've been doing the laffa thing for a few years, and I have to say that I do really like their lamb/beef gyro mixture.