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Straight From Lebanon’s Streets, These Juicy Sandwiches Are Reviving Eagle Rock Plaza’s Lonely Corner Strip Mall

This new family restaurant offers Lebanese-style "rosto" or roast beef, as well as tender beef tongue, rich stewed chicken liver, maanek and sujuk sausages, and infamously pungent basturma. 95% of their spices come from Lebanon.

If you’re going to eat at A La Beirut, you have to close your eyes and take a bite. This is according to owner Vartan Mouradian, who explains that it’s the only way to taste the love infused into their family restaurant's take on Lebanese street food. 

Against the advice of their local friends and family, the Mouradians have brought their hand-pressed sandwiches and wraps to this desolate corner strip mall in the shadows of the larger Eagle Rock Plaza, a vestigial remnant of our country's peak-mall-mania past.

What was a forgotten corner of Eagle Rock is now home to a loving Lebanese-Armenian family, their contagious smiles, and their delectable sandwiches. 

A La Beirut signage. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.

In Lebanon, street food spots, which provide a multitude of options, allow you to eat for 15 to 20 minutes and then be on your way. At A La Beirut, the focus is on Lebanese sandwiches and wraps made with ingredients that are expected to be unique and some that truly are. There are chicken and beef shawarma wraps, including chicken shish tawouk, which comes with chicken kabob and fries, cabbage-mayo slaw, ketchup, pickles, and garlic paste. 

Among the sandwiches, it offers “rosto,” aka Lebanese-style roast beef. You can also find tender beef tongue, rich stewed chicken liver, maanek and sujuk (two kinds of Lebanese sausages), and the infamously pungent dried beef basturma. There's also a simple vegetarian-friendly sandwich spread with Lebanese labneh. Excepting the salt, cumin, and Aleppo peppers, 95% of their spices come from Lebanon. 

Different sandwiches from A La Beirut. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
Maneek Sandwich. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
Lebanese-style lebni sandwich. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.

It’s curious to note that although the family has only been in the L.A. area for a short time, coming and going from Armenia and Lebanon since 2015, it didn't take long for Mexican recipes to influence their menu.

For their white cheese sandwich, the family has adopted a local Armenian-made "queso blanco" that melts just a bit, while still maintaining its squeaky, full-flavored texture. It’s now just another thing Mexicans and Lebanese can share in their long history of exchanging cultural foods, like al pastor.

So, what does love taste like when you close your eyes and bite into one of the sandwiches? Like all love, it starts with a feeling. The soft French baguette is filled first with proteins and sauces before being toasted to a light crisp on the panini press. The flaky bread gives way to many flavors and seasonings that uniquely pair with each protein. 

The menu at A La Beirut. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.
Homemade-style chicken shish tawouk stewing. Photo by Memo Torres for L.A. TACO.

These sandwiches aren’t made in the style of your typical American, Italian, or Mexican deli, with their rote repetitions of lettuce, tomato, and onion as a base.

Jano, the Mouradian's son, explains that, even though anyone can make a sandwich: “There’s a specific way to give out our sandwiches. You have to make something with love so customers love it, too. You can’t just make it like that and give it to them. We got that from our dad.”

In the beef tongue sandwich, the toasted bread gives way to a sprite bite of fresh mint, lemon juice, and pickles anchored only by a spread of garlic paste. The chicken liver is stewed in several spices, and only pickles are added to help cut through the iron-rich, organ-forward flavor.

Aleppo peppers and olives help add abundance to the cheese sandwiches, while pine nuts on the Maanek turns it into a curious, meaty, and nutty choice.  

Vartan, Mirey, Naro, Cynthia, and Jano Mouradian. Photo provided by the Mouradian Family.

You can taste the love in grandma’s meat marinades, which have been passed down to the family matriarch, Naro Mouradian, and combine well with dad’s specific way of preparing each sandwich that he learned from his family’s sandwich shop as a teenager in Lebanon.

They taste of the love they have for their three children, Jano, Cynthia, and Mirey, who all work together in this small shop. The times I’ve been and witnessed their interactions, it’s easy to see how their love and happiness with each other can vibrate through the food and to their customers. 

A La Beirut ~ 2750 Colorado Blvd #4 Los Angeles, CA 90041. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 81, 180, and 251 - "Broadway/Colorado."

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