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Ten Palestinian-Owned Restaurants to Support in L.A. and O.C.

Supporting our local Palestinian restaurants not only allows you to experience excellent cooking and recipes from a culture and people who have been making these dishes for generations, but it also helps to broaden our worldviews on a culture some forces seek to bury and erase. 

We believe few things have the power to unite people and help us grasp each other’s universal compassion, goodwill, and openness like sitting down together at the table for a good meal.

Our Palestinian neighbors in Southern California continue to suffer through the ongoing genocide in their ancestral land, with too many mourning the loss of entire generations of families amid the occupation by Israel, and the threat of an upcoming invasion of Rafah that would massacre many more.

Tragically, there are many world cultures better known for their tragedies and suffering than for their art, warmth, and ingenuity. These misunderstood, much-maligned places are full of people whose humanity has all but been erased through continuous confinement, oppression, and an ongoing history of pain, conflict, and exploitation.

Supporting our local Palestinian restaurants not only allows you to experience excellent cooking and recipes from a culture and people who have been making these dishes for generations, but it also helps to broaden our worldviews on a culture some forces seek to bury and erase. 

Here are ten Palestinian-owned restaurants in Southern California that you can support today.

And if you’d like to do more, here are some additional ways you can support those suffering back home.

Los Angeles

A chicken leg and thigh with a rub of spices at Jerusalem Chicken in Los Angeles
Siti's Chicken stuffed with rice, ribeye, and mushrooms at Jerusalem Chicken. Photo via @jerusalem_chicken/Instagram.

Jerusalem Chicken ~ Windsor Hills

After opening in early 2021, Sami Othman’s Jerusalem Chicken (named for the New York-raised owner’s birthplace) quickly joined the broad pantheon of fast-casual chicken places beloved by Angelenos, offering a spectacle of from-scratch Palestinian Halal home cooking featuring multiple recipes of beautifully browned bird. You’ll find halved specimens glistening through thick speckled seasonings of garlic, lemon, and onion, generously portioned on paper plates, stuffed into pitas, and chopped over fries, along with tabouli salads, falafel, Jerusalem rice, and smooth hummus with hot, fluffy pita. 

It also makes a mean musakhan, the Palestinian national dish that places a juicy, roasted chicken leg in a cradle of flatbread, the whole dish sodden with sweet, stewed onions, olive oil, and a heavy hand of bright sumac. However, we’d be just as happy with the ribeye, rice,and mushroom-stuffed Siti’s Original J-Chicken, named for the owner’s mom, whose recipes prevail here. Othman also owns L.A.’s Orleans & York chain of New Orleans/NYC-inspired delis.

4448 W. Slauson Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90043. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 102, 108, and 212 - "Slauson/Overhill."

A plate of sliced beef shawarma with hummus and salad at Anwar's Kitchen in L.A.
Beef shawarma at Anwar's Kitchen. Photo via Anwar's Kitchen.

Anwar’s Kitchen ~ Downtown

Palestinian-American influencer and comedian Anwar Jibawi opened Anwar’s Kitchen in the Fashion District in the fall of 2020 with his mother, Amal. Over a sizable Halal menu, the restaurant puts its spin on Mediterranean staples like shawarma (both beef and chicken), falafel, and gyros, served with pickles, onions, and tomatoes, and should you need it, over fries. Tempting housemade sides include different labnehs based on beets, garlic-and-mint, and oregano, available alongside avocado hummus, stuffed grape leaves, marinated artichokes, and L.A. still being L.A., pico de gallo and sambal olek salsa from a deli case. Anwar’s has an additional place in our hearts for offering "Palestinian tacos," with your choice of gyro, falafel, shrimp, and beef or chicken shawarma with tomatillo, salsa roja, and a side of hummus and pita chips. They didn’t choose the taco life… the taco life chose them.

217 E. 8th St. Los Angeles, CA 90014. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Line 66 - "8th/Maple", Bus Lines 51 and 60 - "7th/Maple", Bus Lines 40, 45, 55, and 92 - "Spring/9th", Bus Lines 28, 30, 33, and 48 - "Main/9th."

A knafeh with a slice cut out, which sits on a nearby plate, a fork and knife in between them
Knafeh from Knafeh Queens. Photo via Knafeh Queens.

Knafeh Queens~ Various Locations

Fatmah Muhammad started Knafeh Queens with her daughter, Rheyanah Williams, in 2018, to introduce people to the pleasures of Palestinian knafeh. This sweet-and-savory miracle of buttery, shredded phyllo dough bound by a gooey, sugary-salty blend of melted cheese, and topped with sugar syrup, is often served at celebrations, but the duo makes them available to everyone by making flash-frozen, vacuum-sealed versions, and shipping them to your home address.

Their knafeh won the blue ribbon at the O.C. Fair’s pie contest and came in second place at L.A.’s County Fair. They currently offer knafeh in cupcake, mini-cupcake, heart-shaped, and double-tiered cake form.

Muhammad told KCRW last December, “What we're doing with Knafeh Queens is we're trying to share our narrative, the beautiful stories of the Palestinian people… The stories of how I grew up as a Palestinian with love and hospitality and kindness, in good food and warmth.”

You can order from Knafeh Queens on its website and also find its knafeh at Yamashisha Hookah Bar in Hollywood, Fan Girl Cafe in West Hollywood, Qamaria in Fullerton, Altayebat in Anaheim, and Mundial Coffee in Riverside

A paper plate of falafel balls drizzled in tahini sauce.
Tahini-drizzled falafel at Salam Falafel. Photo via Salam Falafel.

Salam Falafel ~ Koreatown

Salam Falafel’s self-described “contemporary Palestinian cuisine” is statedly inspired by Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah, with a menu of traditional falafel, silky hummus, the spiced fava bean stew known as foul mudammas, and fateh, which we’ll gladly liken to Palestinian chilaquiles. In addition to staying open late, it also offers a luscious ribeye steak hummus, hot wings, and mozzarella sticks starting at 2 A.M., a hummus-tahini-and-hot sauce sandwich known as the “Free Palestine,” and a neighboring sanctuary of a hookah lounge with tea service and belly dancing.

223 S. Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90004. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 16, 204, and 754 - "Vermont/3rd."

A pyramid of sandwiches from Ike's Sandwiches
Sandwiches on Dutch crunch bread from Ike's. Photo via Ike's Sandwiches.

Ike’s Sandwiches ~ Multiple Locations

Ike Shehadeh’s bald, be-soul-patched cartoon head currently beckons from over 80 locations of this eponymous chain, which he first launched with a single cafe in San Francisco’s Castro District in 2007 and temporarily closed the next day to its tepid performance. Today, the popularity and influence of the Ike's Sandwiches franchise seem to be flourishing, based on sandwiches featuring a proprietary “Dirty Sauce” on his softer approach to the Bay Area’s beloved Dutch crunch rolls, plus funny sandwich names, and special releases, like the $14.20 “THC” (turkey, honey, and Hot Cheetos) currently being offered in conjunction with Weedmaps.

Shehadeh was born to Palestinian parents (his first sandwiches were sold at the family's market). He famously learned to make sandwiches from his mother, who prepared Palestinian staples like hummus and falafel for the family at their Northern California home. While Ike’s doesn’t serve Palestinian food (it does offer Halal meats for many of its sandwiches) and locations can be owned and operated by franchisees, the rapid and widespread of Ike’s is a testament to the entrepreneur’s spirit and positive philosophy that we can all learn from. Not bad for a Giants fan.

Multiple locations in L.A. and O.C.

Long Beach

A spread at Ammatoli. Photo via @ammatoli/Instagram.

Ammatoli ~ Downtown Long Beach

Dima and Sam Habibeh’s hugely beloved restaurant in the middle of downtown Long Beach specializes in the traditional cuisine of Palestine and its surrounding Levantine region, and each dish is as ornate as the eatery's beautiful interior. This is the kind of place where everything on the menu is worth ordering. You can go hearty and share their Palestinian Msakhan chicken roll served with roasted pine nuts, sumac, cucumber, and yogurt salad. Or you can go light and feast on their vegetable-centric mezze dishes, such as stuffed grape leaves and spicy hummus. The concept was so successful that they expanded into the space in 2022. Despite Ammatoli's refined approach and elevated atmosphere, Chef Dima honors the Arab tradition of generosity with the large portions of food served on every plate. It must also be said that they serve quite possibly the best fries in Long Beach, steak-cut and dusted with their irresistible house zaatar mix. - Javier Cabral

285 E 3rd St, Long Beach, CA 90802. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro A Line - "1st Street Station" or Bus Line 232 - "Long Beach/3rd."

Orange County

A fat fluffy pita stuffed with ribeye, tahini, and chopped roots vegetables
Ribeye pita at Sababa Falafel Shop. Photo via Sababa Falafel Shop.

Sababa Falafel Shop ~ Garden Grove

Sal Othman’s family-run Sababa is an award-winning destination for large falafel pita. It has five stars stemming from more than 1,300 reviews on Yelp since its opening in the thick of the pandemic. The restaurant is also proudly Palestinian, as is its cooking, and the owners are active in community fundraising for those suffering in Gaza.

At the Little Arabia-adjacent restaurant, which recently had a grand refresh of its space, you’ll find fat pitas stuffed with spellbinding arrays of colorful roots, strong, speckled seasoning, and fresh herbs, clutched like burgers in the hands of O.C. lunch-breakers, frequently to the point of bursting.

Ingredients are always exemplary at Sababa, from freshly baked breads, organic Halal meats, and whole ingredients to the flash-fried falafel in fresh oil daily. The menu abounds with dishes you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere, including pita stuffed with caramelized eggplant and fried potato; ribeye and sujuk pita sandwiches; soft-boiled egg and ribeye-topped fatteh; mushroom-and-onion-topped hummus; the soda known as Barbican pomegranate; and quinoa and babaganoush dipping bowls.

11011 Brookhurst St. Garden Grove, CA 92840. Closest transit lines and stop: OC Bus Lines 35 and 50 - "Brookhurst/Katella."

A slice of knafeh being lifted from a larger knafeh, with cheese stretching from the knafeh.
Knafeh at Knafeh Cafe. Photo via Knafeh Cafe.

Knafeh Cafe ~ Anaheim

This bakery and sweets shop has a vintage poster of Nablus on its wall, showing the resistant hometown of its founder, Asem Abusir, and the birthplace of nabulsi knafeh. Abusir learned the art of making this traditional knafeh from his family, and offers it in Anaheim’s Little Arabia by the slice, personal pie, or made-to-order tray.

Knafeh Cafe also sells a couple of varieties of sage honey-sweetened, seed-speckled hareesh cake, plus cream-filled warbat, baklava, halvah, mamool cookies, karak tea, aish el saraya bread pudding, roz bi haleeb rice pudding, and specials like Nutella balourieh. The pistachio-dusted knafeh is perfect, only improved upon when lingering at an outdoor table with a strong coffee or mint tea, and nowhere particular to be.

866 S. Brookhurst St. Anaheim, CA 92804. Closest transit lines and stop: OC Bus Line 35 - "Brookhurst/Brookmore" or OC Bus Line 46 - "Ball/Brookhurst."

A lamb fat basted shawarma plate at Shawarma House. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.
A lamb fat basted shawarma plate at Shawarma House. Photo by Javier Cabral for L.A. TACO.

Shawarma House ~ Garden Grove

One of the first things your eyes will gravitate to as you start to take your order at the counter at Shawarma is the glistening strata of thinly sliced beef sitting under a blob of luscious lamb fat. You might have come in thinking you'll have some chicken shawarma, but the appeal of lamb-infused juicy sliced beef via their beef shawarma is way too hard to pass up. This spot is bonafide Southern California strip mall gem that serves heaping plates of their namesake shawarma for $15. It’s a locals-only spot where Palestinians and paisas cook in the back of the house. Every table is full of Garden Grovers and homesick Palestinians looking for comfort in any way they can find it. Their falafel is also worth ordering if you don't feel like meat today, and they sell a side of it for about a dollar a sphere. Just make sure to leave with a slice of their knafeh or baklava, which are not too sweet and act as the cherry on top of the experience. - Javier Cabral

12531 Harbor Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92840. Closest transit line and stop: OC Bus Line 43 - "Harbor/Lampson."

Kareem's Falafel
A plate at Kareem's Falafel. Photo via @KareemsFalafel/Instagram.

Kareem's Falafel

Kareem's Falafel was the first Arab restaurant—specifically Palestinian—on Brookhurst Street in Anaheim's Little Arabia district. It was opened by Nesrine Omari and her husband, Mike Hawari, in 1996. Nearly 30 years later, it is now owned and operated by Kareem Hawari, the son of Nesrine and Mike. They both immigrated from Nazareth, in what is now recognized as Israel and carved out the Disneyland-adjacent neighborhood as an epicenter for Arab food in Southern California. Each falafel is still crispy and satisfying. Kareem has recently taken steps to shepherd the historic restaurant into this new generation, introducing a frozen line to take some home to crisp up whenever you want. Gustavo Arellano was the first to take me to this strip mall legend, and now I look for any reason to stop in. - Javier Cabral

1208 S Brookhurst St, Anaheim, CA 92804. Closest transit lines and stop: OC Bus Lines 35 and 46 - "Brookhurst/Ball."

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