Tel Aviv Grill

19014 Ventura Blvd.
Tarzana, California 91356
Critics' Pick
Tel Aviv Grill +

Garrett Snyder


  • Sun.-Thu., 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri., 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
When assembling your sandwich at Tel Aviv Grill, a perpetually crowded Israeli shawarma shop inside an Encino strip mall, try not to be indecisive. Sure, the process begins innocently enough: A counterman pulls a fresh sheet of pillowy laffa bread from a small domed oven in the corner, then shaves off an ample portion of chicken shawarma — juicy bits of meat, crispy on the edges and saturated with spices — from a rotating spit that’s as tall as Ryan Seacrest (most days there are two spits standing next to each other, sizzling and spinning in unison). Then the hard part comes: You are presented with about a dozen bowls of sauces, toppings and other accoutrements — a build-your-own wrap situation. The counterman flicks his tongs with staggering speed, loading up your sandwich with a slug of velvety hummus, tart cabbage slaw, deep-fried eggplant, a splash of cilantro-heavy hot sauce and a hit of amba, the addictive pickled-mango condiment that’s pretty much indispensable. You’ll start to feel the impatient stares of those waiting in line behind you. Shawarma this good has a following, and they don’t like to kept waiting. —Garrett Snyder

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