When Urban Garden first popped up on Fairfax last year I heard mixed things about the fast casual Mediterranean joint from the owner of Mercantile and Delancey. Hosted bloggers seem to like it enough (shocker!), while real customers complained a bit about the price. But the thing I heard the most about was how confusing the menu was. Always up for a dissecting-the-menu challenge I finally got myself over to Fairfax for a good old fashioned falafel and rotisserie chicken face stuffing.
Archive for 'Middle Eastern'
Back in August, when word broke that Hummus Bar & Grill in Tarzana was opening an “express” location on the 3rd Street Promenade, I wondered just how excited Santa Monica should really be. After all, there was no guarantee that some of the best parts of the original (the fresh baked laffa, the all you can eat salads, the french fries in the sandwiches) would be making the journey down the 405. Well, last month Hummus Bar Express opened on 3rd between Arizona and Santa Monica and the answer is a resounding very excited. Santa Monica should be absolutely pickled tink. (See what I did there? Because, you know, there are a lot of pickles in Israeli food… and people say “tickled pink”, so I just took the first letter of… oh nevermind.)
As expected, there is no all you can eat salad option. But there is enough of the original in this express location to immediately make this one of if not THE best lunch option on or around the Promenade.
I don’t know how you feel, but hearing that a place called “Hummus Bar Express” is coming soon to the 3rd Street Promenade does not cause me to automatically celebrate. We are talking about the Promenade after all, home to such wonderful Mediterranean cuisine as Falafel King. And Greek Cuisine Stop N Cafe. I’m not saying the Promenade couldn’t use an excellent Middle Eastern option (only a crazy person would say that!) but I do question what kind of Middle Eastern options the Promenade attracts. Of course once you add the words “from Tarzana” to the end of the Hummus Bar Express, that changes everything. Tarzana? That’s in the Valley. And the Valley has pretty awesome Middle Eastern food. Santa Monica could sure use some of that.
The question is, how excited should we be for Hummus Bar Express? Well that depends on how much of the original Hummus Bar & Grill is going to make it down the 405? They did call it “Express”, which means not everything is going to make the trip. But here’s what we should be hoping for…
Poor Taeem. Back in January I was so excited to discover you. Plodding along in the wasteland of Melrose Ave. Quietly serving up a falafel sandwich on that deliciously elusive pita bread of all pita breads: the laffa. Yours wasn’t baked fresh in house, but I didn’t care. When a dehydrated traveler stumbling through the desert happens upon an oasis, they don’t question how the water was filtered. But sadly, our love affair has come to and end. Because fresh baked laffa does exist in Los Angeles, at a place called Joe’s. I don’t normally venture to North Hollywood to lunch, but when giant discs of freshly baked pita bread are involved my boundaries tend to become a bit less rigid.
It’s a sad truth, but many people probably stopped reading this post after the title. Made their mental note (“Tochka = Good. Got it. Let’s move on.”) And sure enough, it’s those people that will inevitably leave the comment a week from now telling me how terrible Tochka is. Because the newly open flatbread sandwiches place on Sunset in West Hollywood is really just ok, an importantly tidbit that you now know because you actually decided to read on. I wouldn’t drive across town for anything on their menu, but if I worked in the neighborhood there is something I’d go back for. Something kind of awesome. Something that I never even really liked, until I tried Tochka’s version…
If you work near La Cienega and Melrose chances are you’ve been to ink.sack for lunch by now. (You have been to ink.sack by now, right? Because if not, what the hell are you waiting for?! Go. Now! Well not now. It’s closed on Mondays. But go soon. It’s really good.) For those who have already been to ink.sack too many times, or don’t feel like waiting in line, or need lunch on a Monday, what are the other options in the area? Real Food Daily? No. Urth Caffe! You’re joking, right? What about La Cienega Kabob House? Now that looks like my kind of place…
There is not much to draw you into Habayit, a small Kosher restaurant tucked into the corner of a small strip mall on Pico near Bundy. Their little rectangle of signage states, simply, “Kosher Restaurant 310-479-7173″; sharing space with other cleverly named establishments like “Coin Laundry” and “Food-Mart”. I’d like to pretend that at some point I would have been lured in by the “FALAFEL” sign with an arrow hung high on a neighboring lightpost, but I was really there because back in May The Find got all gushy about the place- writing about their falafel as if it was the best that ever existed.
Truth be told, I love falafel but I’m not big on falafel platters. For me falafel is meant to be eaten in sandwich form, and I was hoping Habayit would deliver. Because you can have the greatest falafel in the world, and still have your falafel sandwich ruined by dry pita or poor layering.