Seven great LA Persian restaurants to hit for Nowruz (Persian New Year)
If you and your family are celebrating Nowruz, I hope you have someone super talented cooking for you at home this weekend and you don’t need a list like this. For the rest of us looking for some great flavors to go with the Persian New Year celebrations they’re having, we’re bringing you seven of the many places where you can indulge in some of the most enticing Iranian dishes in Los Angeles.
Flashback to 1978, when this small daytime deli space with a resplendent sunny courtyard was opened, surviving today as one of Westwood’s oldest Persian businesses – many say the oldest. Despite the abundance of kebabs, dips, salads and desserts on offer, the big sandwiches on French bread are the big magnet at lunchtime, with intriguing toppings such as the spicy sausage known as sosees bandari , paper-thin bologna, olivieh-style egg salad, and most popular for a reason, hot saffron beef tongue. Unfortunately, it’s been a few months since the deli served its infamous and delicious makhloot, due to the current inaccessibility of its star ingredients, lamb brains and lamb tongue.
1388 Westwood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90024
For nearly 30 years, this family-run Glendale restaurant has been feeding the local Persian-Armenian community at grand feasts of ghormehsabzi stew with tahdig, pomegranate fesenjoon, melt-in-your-mouth lamb shank, studded with black cherry Albaloo polo shirt, and a small universe of kebabs, with various seafood options among them. Barg, made of thinly sliced tenderloin, is a special indulgence worth seeking out. A few blocks east of Santa Monica, you’ll find equally devoted crowds and carefully crafted traditional dishes among the extravagant dining rooms of Daryawhere on weekend nights, the belted crooner synthesizes the forgotten soft-pop gems and standards of Iran, Europe and the United States, and reasonably priced lunchtime fare grabs a bargain at noon.
211 E Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205
Persian groceries dramatically improve life on the Westside, and Tehran’s newly renovated Santa Monica Market is one of the gems. Stop by for marinated halal meats, seemingly endless stores of labneh, tea, nuts, fruits, preserves, sangak, prepared meals and sweets to take home. But do it on the weekends, when the charcoal-grilled aromas of two huge mangal parking lots will draw you into some of the most satisfying skewers of lamb, chicken, salmon and koobideh in town.
1417 Wilshire Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90403
Neither the name nor the facade indicates the vital glories that unfold inside, where fresh dough is patted on a large wooden palate and then spread over a custom rotary kiln that replicates the texture of the bed of tiny stones from from which the legendary Persian sangak bread takes its name. Two minutes later, you’ll be presented with a hot, cool, squishy sangak the size of a small blanket that should last you several days at home, if it survives the car ride. While there, stick around for a breakfast of mirza ghasemi or order a wrap for lunch to get your koobideh or grilled chicken encased in that same fresh-baked sangak.
11551 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, California 90025
Another reason to love LA? You have more than a few choices for Persian ice cream. On Westwood Boulevard, there’s the popular Saffron & Rose, which offers saffron pistachio, jasmine and date balls, as well as faloodeh, a rice noodle dessert. And nearby, you’ll find Bloomfield Creamery, which offers small-batch honey-sweet flavors like Pink Rose, Chocolate Honeycomb, and Chocolate Cherry Pie. But like many Angelenos, we have a big soft spot for Mashti Malone’s, which has served Hollywood for nearly 40 years with decadent specialties like deep-fried, rosewater-soaked zulbia bamieh with a scoop on top, ice cream accompanied by crispy wafers and sundaes of ice cream balancing a large loghmeh of baklava where the sprinkles usually go. The longtime business now has its own Westwood Blvd. showcase too.
1525 N. La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028; 1898 Westwood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90025
South Bay chefs love this kebab-heavy Tehran-inspired restaurant that has powered Long Beach for nearly 20 years. The selection is simple, focusing on carefully prepared skewers, such as yogurt-marinated chicken, traditional koobideh, coconut curry-marinated chicken, and tender lamb. There are also multiple variations of falafel, hummus topped with cranberries and barberry, and homemade baklava.
21 39and Place Long Beach, CA 90803
Fullerton’s excellent, creative and Michelin Bib Award-winning halal restaurant is offering a Holi menu this weekend to celebrate India’s Festival of Colors. Then, this Monday and Tuesday, he will turn his attention to Nowruz, offering these three specialties: chapli kabob, lamb rubbed with spices, minced with eggs and fried tomatoes; Indian eggplant seasoned with spicy tomato and suspended yogurt; and a New Zealand lamb shank with cardamom pods, caramelized carrots and raisins called “The Dance of Kabuli Pulao”. Given the inventive takes Chef Imran Ali Mookhi is known for, it’s worth seeing what he does with Persian cuisine.
229 E. Commonwealth Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832