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Food & Drink

Best Lebanese Breakfast Pastries Los Angeles 2011 

Vrej

Take a soft, warm bun rolled in sesame seeds, split it open, fill with melty sweet mozzarella-style cheese with a golden brown farina crust, douse with rosewater syrup, wrap it in paper, and you have breakfast-treat heaven with countless variations on its name: knefe, kanefeh, kunafah, künefe, kanafeh, kunfah, kataifi, kadaifi, kadayf, kadaif, knafeh bjebn. At Vrej, a Lebanese bakery in an Armenian neighborhood in Pasadena, the treat, also popular in the Palestinian territories, Syria and Egypt, is served only on weekends, and you'd best get there before noon, when they tend to run out. It is not uncommon for an individual to order a dozen or more, and you will be very sad if that is the person standing in line in front of you and you witness the last square of cheese being stuffed into the last sesame bun. The pastry is fantastic with tea or coffee and fresh fruit, and some — no one we know — swear by it as a hangover remedy. The bakery also does a twist on the traditional Lebanese breakfast of zaatar wa zeit, which is thyme mixed with salt, sumac and toasted sesame. Usually eaten with pita bread, at Vrej it is stuffed into a croissant. If you're a gringo, just ask for the "herb croissant." 1074 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena. (626) 797-2331.

—Samantha Bonar

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