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Marouch: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

When the food press gets to talking about the Middle Eastern food in America, Los Angeles rarely enters the conversation alongside Dearborn, New York or even Anaheim. But the concentration of Lebanese-Armenian restaurants in Hollywood and Glendale is astonishing in its size and complexity, although it is often overlooked amid the flashier pleasures of L.A.'s Thai, Chinese and Korean kitchens. And Marouch, which has been anchoring its East Hollywood mini-mall for as long as anyone can remember, is something like a national treasure — not a gaudy banquet hall or a neon kebab palace but a serious showcase for the cuisine's homier pleasures.

Unlike a lot of the regulars, I have no particular nostalgia for old Beirut, but if I'd grown up with an Armenian grandmother who cooked like Sossy Brady, there is no amount of samka harra that could fill the emptiness in my heart. But instead we go to Marouch for the intensely garlicked tabbouleh salad, the hummus with fool, the brick-red muhammara, with its fragrance of pomegranate and red peppers. The falafel, made from scratch, are exemplary, crisp-crusted and practically melting inside. There is crusty, fried, Armenian-style sujok sausage, eye-rollingly spiced with cumin; and the tiny, gently spiced links called makanek served awash in oil and lemon; the toasted-bread salad fattoush and grilled quail; Turkish coffee and the complicated Lebanese desserts. Year after year, Marouch becomes nothing but better. 4905 Santa Monica Blvd., E. Hlywd. (323) 662-9325, marouchrestaurant.com. Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Beer and wine. Lot parking. All major CC. Middle Eastern.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
The Google Map

The List:

A-Frame
Akasha
Alcazar
Angeli Caffe
Angelini Osteria
Animal
Antojitos Carmen
Attari
Babita
Bludso's
Border Grill
Bottega Louie
Bulgarini Gelato
Cacao
Campanile
Casa Bianca
Chang's Garden
Chego
Chichén Itzá
Chung King
Church & State
Ciro's
Comme Ça
Cut
Dae Bok
Din Tai Fung
Drago Centro
El Huarache Azteca
El Parian
Elvirita's
Euro Pane Bakery
Eva
Fab Hot Dogs
Father's Office
Fig
Gjelina
Golden Deli
Golden State
Good Girl Dinette
The Gorbals
Guelaguetza
Guisados
Huckleberry
Hungry Cat
Ink.
Jar
Jitlada
Kiriko
Kobawoo
La Casita Mexicana
Langer's
Larkin's
Lazy Ox Canteen
Le Comptoir
Little Dom's
Lou
Lucques
LudoBites
Lukshon
Mantee
Marouch
Mayura
Meals by Genet
Mélisse
Mezze
Mo-Chica
Mother Dough
Mozza
Musso & Frank Grill
Nem Nuong Khanh Hoa
Newport Tan Cang Seafood Restaurant
The Nickel
Night + Market
Oinkster
101 Noodle Express
Palate Food + Wine
Park's Barbecue
Picca
Playa
Pollos a la Brasa
Providence
Ray's
Red Medicine
Rivera
Rustic Canyon
Salt's Cure
Sapp Coffee Shop
Sea Harbour
Son of a Gun
Sotto
Spago
Spice Table
Street
Tacos Baja Ensenada
Tasting Kitchen
Terroni
Tsujita L.A.
Vincenti
Waterloo & City

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Marouch

4905 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

323-662-9325

www.marouchrestaurant.com