Alcazar: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011
When it's pretty late at night, and you are half-woozy on arak and secondhand hookah smoke, and the fried mullet in front of you has long since been transformed into skeletons yet you can't resist swabbing bits of fried pita around the plate, hoping to pick up a stray puddle of tahini sauce — at these times, it is possible to persuade yourself that Alcazar may be the best restaurant in this part of Encino. The band stops playing. You can hear tiny crickets singing all along the patio. Life is good.
Los Angeles has a pretty good community of Middle Eastern restaurants, but there is no place quite like Alcazar, with its salad made with the wild thyme called za'taar; a half-dozen kinds of hummus; pungent shanklish cheese chopped into a salad; and a definitive version of sautéed chicken livers with fresh pomegranate seeds. Alcazar is one of the finest Middle Eastern kitchens in Los Angeles. The cooks are Egyptian and Lebanese, but the owner, a well-known Armenian crooner who sometimes sings here on weekends, is not above insisting on putting Armenian-style kibbe nayeh on his menus, to go along with the chicken kebabs, stuffed grape leaves and superbly crunchy boreg. 17239 Ventura Blvd., Encino. (818) 789-0991, al-cazar.com. Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10:30 p.m.; Sat., 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sun. 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Full bar. Hookah and cigar lounge. Lot parking in rear. All major CC. Lebanese.
99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:
Church & State
Din Tai Fung
El Huarache Azteca
Euro Pane Bakery
Fab Hot Dogs
Good Girl Dinette
La Casita Mexicana
Lazy Ox Canteen
Meals by Genet
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
Night + Market
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Pollos a la Brasa
Sapp Coffee Shop
Son of a Gun
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Waterloo & City
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