The Best Persian Food In LA (PHOTOS)
The stretch of Westwood Boulevard from Pico to the UCLA campus is special and it has a name -- it's called Tehrangeles. Outside of Tehran, Los Angeles boasts the largest number of Persian denizens (nearing a million!), and with that quantifiable honor comes a brilliant cluster of Persian restaurants cooking the feel-good food of the motherland. It's a Middle Eastern cuisine that draws influence from Indian fare (plus, a curious use of pomegranates), but to navigate Little Persia with a grumbling belly is no easy feat -- unless you have this short, delicious list:
Shamshiri is likely already packed with LA's loyal Persian-Americans before 6pm. Consider its authenticity: There's something called tahnig on its menu, which refers to the layer of crisp rice (some would call it burnt; all would call it incredible) at the bottom of the rice pot; a massive slab of it is served to you on a plate and smothered with two stews of your choosing. After a course of tadig -- this is supposed to be a starter -- do not miss Shamshiri's all-too-tender lamb neck meat falling off the bone. <em>Shamshiri Grill, 1712 Westwood Boulevard, at Massachusetts Avenue (310-474-1410 or <a href="http://shamshiri.com" target="_hplink">shamshiri.com</a>)</em> Photo via <a href="http://shamshiri.com" target="_hplink">shamshiri.com</a>
The digs might be a little more elegant than the other Persian restaurants in the city (décor-wise, it's still 1991, let's be real), but Shaherzad is deftly slaving away at fresh-baking fine Persian flatbread. You'll spy the baker twirling his iron-clad instrument to toss and toast his bread (it's not as yeasty as Indian naan, but certainly not as bland and boring as store-bought pita). Like a pro, take this bread and wrap it around a full kebab of ground-meat koobideh and go at it like a hot dog -- but instead of mustard, your regal condiment: yogurt dip. <em>Shaherzad, 1422 Westwood Boulevard, at Wilkins Avenue (310-470-3242) </em> Photo by Misty Oka of <a href="http://NomsNotBombs.com" target="_hplink">NomsNotBombs.com</a>.
You might discover a full-blown Persian wedding reception happening inside Darya -- and the bride herself chomping on a chicken shish kabob, the moistest she's had in all her married life. At Darya, every kabob is grilled to order, so you'll never find 12 ounces of their finest cut of filet mignon just sitting under a heat lamp cooking itself beyond a medium-well. Darya is a class act, and inside, you sit in kingly dining chairs with a Persian version of a chandelier above you and a stately column to your left. <em>Darya Restaurant, 12130 Santa Monica Boulevard, at 21st Street (310-442-9011 or <a href="http://daryarestaurant.com" target="_hplink">daryarestaurant.com</a>)</em> Photo via <a href="http://daryarestaurant.com" target="_hplink">daryarestaurant.com</a>
Reyhan Persian Grill
There are several iterations of Reyhan peppered across Southern California. Reyhan also manages a Facebook page and a Twitter account. It's a good ol' Persian café -- outside of Tehranangeles -- cooking natural ingredients and building a healthy voyage of stews, kabobs and wraps. Sample the Aush, a vegetarian soup of lentils and garbanzo beans, drizzled with yogurt sauce -- a family recipe that's been refined for several generations. Then, conclude your journey with Reyhan's infamous rack of lamb, permanently added to its menu by earnest demand. <em>Reyhan Persian Grill, 11800 Jefferson Boulevard, Unit A, at Mesmer Avenue (310-390-6800 or <a href="http://reyhan.us" target="_hplink">reyhan.us</a>)</em> Photo via Facebook: Reyhan Persian Grill
Upon entrance into Javan, it's clear you're walking into a family establishment. Since 1986, Javan has nurtured a loyal clientele that draws comfort from its humble Persian cooking. We're especially drawn to Javan's available side offerings of rice: the Albalo Polo, basmatic covered in sweet and sour cherries, the Adas Polo, basmati tossed with lentils, dates and raisins, or the Baghala Polo, basmati with fresh herbs, dill and fava beans. <em>Javan Restaurant, 11500 Santa Monica Boulevard, at Butler Avenue (310-207-5555 or <a href="http://javanrestaurant.com" target="_hplink">javanrestaurant.com</a>)</em> Photo via Facebook: Javan Restaurant