Carnival. The whole human comedy — or carnival, as it were — flocks to this relentlessly popular Middle Eastern restaurant in a Sherman Oaks mini-mall for big portions of mezze and kebabs. (A buck seventy-five adds soup or salad and rice or fries to any entrée.) Try the daily specials — lamb shanks, lamb and okra stew. 4356 Woodman Ave., Sherman Oaks, (818) 784-3469. Seven days 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Lot parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $8.25–$12.95. Middle Eastern. MH ¢ *
Carousel Restaurant. The food sparkles with freshness — and lemon. Go for the meze, and also for hard-to-find delicacies such as frogs’ legs, roasted quail and lamb’s tongue. 304 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale, (818) 246-7775. Tues.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. 5112 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 660-8060. Tues.–Sun. 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Full bar, Glendale; no alcohol, Hollywood. Lot parking. DC, MC, V. Entrées $7.50–$20. Middle Eastern/Lebanese-Armenian. MH $
Heidar Baba. Heidar Baba may be the first halal Iranian restaurant in the Los Angeles area, a redoubt of extreme cleanliness, meat slaughtered according to Islamic law, and cooks who wear the hijab even in the heat of lunch rush; of strong tea served in glasses; of direct flavors and unmodulated herbal tartness. 1511 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 844-7970. Lunch and dinner seven days, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. AE, D, MC, V. Food for two, $14–$28. Halal Iranian. JG $ *
*Mandaloun. It is hard not to be a little awestruck by the Lebanese restaurant Mandaloun. Because while the local Middle Eastern restaurant scene is no stranger to grandeur, there has never been anything like this place, a gilded gastrodome of massive kebabs, pita made to order, and outdoor terraces devoted to the baking of Lebanese flatbreads and the smoking of apple-flavored tobacco. And it’s all tucked away on the second floor of a complex that from the outside looks better suited to a parking structure. 141 S. Maryland Blvd., Glendale, (818) 507-1900. Lunch and dinner Sun.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–11:30 p.m. Full bar. Takeout. Street parking. AE, D, MC, V. Entrées $12.95–$22. Lebanese. JG $ * ¦
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Marouch. If you wanted to imagine you were in Beirut, you could stop by this place a few times a day, easy — midmornings for baklava and a thimbleful of Turkish coffee, lunch for a kebab and a bottle of Lebanese beer, late afternoons for a bowl of dense lentil soup. At dinner, the combination meze includes essentially everything on the left-hand side of the menu. To begin with. 4905 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 662-9325. Open Tues.–Sun. 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Beer and wine. Lot parking. AE, CB, D, DC, MC, V. Entrées $8.50–$11.50. Middle Eastern/Lebanese. JG $ *
Middle East Restaurant. Unlike most Lebanese restaurants, the Middle East Restaurant makes a specialty of breakfast. Before 10 a.m., there is a $5.99 combination that includes a plate of the yogurt-tart homemade cream-cheese labneh slicked with olive oil. 910 E. Main St., Alhambra, (626) 281-1006. Breakfast, lunch and dinner Sun.–Thurs. 9 a.m.–10 p.m. and Fri.–Sat. 9 a.m.–1 a.m. Beer and wine. Takeout. Lot parking. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Food for two, $12–$20. Lebanese. JG $ H
Raffi’s Place. You go to Raffi’s for its enormous, affordable plates of Persian-Armenian food, but you also get canaries singing in the trees, a heated brick patio, quick service and a location close to Glendale’s best movie theaters. 211 E. Broadway, Glendale, (818) 240-7411. Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m, Sat.–Sun. noon–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Validated parking. AE, MC, V. Entrées $8–$14. Persian/Armenian. MH ¢ * ¤ ¦
*Shamshiri Grill. Lovers of the Persian dishes tah dig and karafs — a thin, crunchy cake of fried white rice with a delicious green stew on top — will find good versions of both at Shamshiri, a well-mannered restaurant on Westwood’s Iranian restaurant row. 1712 Westwood Blvd., Westwood, (310) 474-1410. Lunch and dinner Mon.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Sat. noon–11 p.m., Sun. noon–10 p.m. Beer and wine. Street parking. $9.95–$16.95 (lunch $5.95–$7.95). AE, D, MC, V. Persian. JG. ¢ *