Real-Deal Middle Eastern Food

George thought he knew muhammara, the Middle Eastern spread of red pepper, walnuts and pomegranate. Heck, back in NY he ate the stuff every week at a homestyle Lebanese restaurant. But the muhammara at LA’s Marouch, he says, is on another plane completely.

“Almost glowing purple red and laden with toasted pine nuts and slivered browned almonds, the walnut and pepper paste seemed to sing with spices just beyond my ability to name. It was so good, it was actually hard to eat a lot, almost overwhelming to the senses in a way, not just because it was rich or heavy.”

Oh yeah, makanek sausages with cinnamon and cloves are really good too. David Kahn says the rotisserie chicken at Marouch is second to none–cooked to order, flavorful and with perfectly crispy skin.

Nearby, at Sasoun Bakery, you can get the best, freshest lahmajoun (Middle Eastern baby pizzas topped with ground beef) for $9 a dozen, says Joe. Just heat them up on a griddle till toasty.

Usually, Sunnin gets nothing but love on the board–it’s often cited as having the best falafel around. But a couple of posters who grew up with Middle Eastern food say it just doesn’t measure up to the real thing. The mezze (starters) are better than the entrees, says ayana, but even for those you’re better off with Magic Carpet, Carnival or Carousel. For entrees, go to Wahib’s, Carnival or Carousel.

Marouch Lebanese Restaurant [East Hollywood]
4905 Santa Monica Blvd., at Edgemont, Los Angeles
323-662-9325
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Sasoun Bakery [East San Fernando Valley]
625 E. Colorado Unit A, at Glendale Ave., Glendale
818-502-5059
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Sunnin Lebanese Cafe [Wealthy Westlands]
1779 Westwood Blvd, at Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles
310-477-2358
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Sunnin Lebanese [South Bay]
5110 E. 2nd St., at Granada, Long Beach
562-433-9000
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Magic Carpet Restaurant [Midtown]
8566 W. Pico Blvd, at Corning, Los Angeles
310-652-8507
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Carnival Restaurant [East San Fernando Valley]
4356 Woodman Ave., at Ventura, Sherman Oaks
818-784-3469
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Carousel Restaurant [East San Fernando Valley]
304 N. Brand Blvd., at California, Glendale
818-246-7775
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Carousel Restaurant [East Hollywood]
5112 Hollywood Blvd. # 107, at Normandie, Los Angeles
323-660-8060
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Wahib’s Middle East Restaurant [San Gabriel Valley]
910 E. Main St., at Granada, Alhambra
626-576-1048
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Board Links: Sunnin: I don’t get it
Marouch Mouhamara