In 1984, Greg and Rose Tcholakian decided that, in order to truly share their traditional Middle Eastern eats with the world, a bigger kitchen was in order. That led them to open Carousel Restaurant in an intimate storefront. In 1998, they passed the business to their son, Mike, who expanded upon his parents' growing legacy by moving to a larger location, where he could incorporate more of his family’s culture into every detail. He enhanced the eatery's decor with traditional artwork and decorative scimitars, and put together a live band to back up a large belly-dancing troupe on Fridays and Saturdays. Over the years, Mike has also added to the menu, which now includes more than 50 appetizers in addition to his parents' signature kebabs and pilafs. Today he still helms the business, steering it toward its 30th anniversary and millionth belly shaken as his guests continue to come nightly for a taste of his family’s food and culture.
Executive chef Kareem Shaw is no stranger to creating memorable fine-dining experiences. He's cooked for governors, senators, congressmen, and even President Barak Obama. At Frame 128 Restaurant, he lends his expertise to menu of fine American fusion food. Here, Shaw crafts a variety of dishes with influences from all over the globe, including appetizers of escargot and oysters, wild boar and kobe beef burgers, and ahi tuna. The menu even includes a selection of flatbread pizzas. To complement bites of filet mignon and wild New Zealand king salmon, the bartenders muddle and swirl a selection of signature cocktails.
The menu's bold flavors and detail-oriented craftsmanship call for an equally swanky environment. To that end, the restaurant's dining rooms and lounges, which are spread over two stories, are characterized by sleek, modern decor. The downstairs Blue Lounge offers clusters of plush couches and round low tables for intimate exchanges, while the upstairs Red Lounge facilitates views of the courtyard, accented by neon-lit surroundings.
Like its grownup sister location—Polentoni—Piccolo Polentoni offers refined versions of Old World Italian cuisine. The chefs keep the flavors familiar by importing prosciutto from Italy, hand-rolling meatballs, and making every strand of fettuccine in-house. Likewise, pizzas feature classic toppings such as basil, grilled vegetables, and pepperoni tinged with red chili pepper. Some dishes, such as polenta in meaty bolognese sauce, are a tad more complex, combining northern and southern Italian influences onto one plate. The wine list shows a similar appreciation for Italy's culinary imports and features bottles from Piemonte and Puglia.
An ascending ribbon of exposed brickwork runs along one dining room wall to the next, providing a rustic touch in the softly lit space. Metallic sconces adorn the walls beside each booth, which surround tables lit by flickering candles.
Cooking enough food for family reunions, community events, and other large gatherings can be a laborious, time-intensive process. Fortunately, the chefs at Aslan Mediterranean Cuisine are accustomed to feeding the masses?they've been whipping up bountiful spreads of Armenian, Lebanese, and Greek cuisine since 1988. Their menu brims with hearty meat options as well as a variety of vegetarian-friendly selections, such as silken hummus prepared with a special mix of seasonings, and slow-cooked grape leaves stuffed with aromatic seasoned rice. From the grill, chefs also serve filet mignon and chicken kabobs in addition to their signature dish, arais?pita bread stuffed with lean ground beef and then roasted above an open flame. And no matter the size of the event, the chefs won't be intimidated since they are equally comfortable cooking for a party of 1,000 as they are cooking for one insatiable rhinoceros.
This Los Feliz neighborhood café fixture on Hillhurst Avenue is a popular hangout for locals who love to lounge over big cappuccinos and giant breakfasts, especially at the sunny sidewalk tables. Inside the plate glass storefront, bright walls and smooth marble tables are welcoming, and it’s also quite kid-friendly, especially when it comes to heaps of pancakes, french toast or green eggs and ham (made with pesto). A daunting list of other breakfast choices ranges from crab cake benedict to chilaquiles and smoked salmon wraps, while the equally lengthy lunch menu plays to a host of salads, gourmet quesadillas, deluxe sandwiches and the signature favorite: a rosemary turkey burger on rosemary bread. Dinner standards at the Mustard Seed Café include the likes of filet mignon, chicken piccata and grilled salmon.
Owner Joseph Cordova pays homage to the culinary ingenuity of his Mexican grandmother with a succinct menu of fish and shrimp tacos at Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, a Zagat- and Gayot-praised twist on the traditional taco stand. Baja-style tacos stuffed with batter-dipped sweet-water basa await dollops of fiery house-made avocado and Mad Mango salsas scooped from a self-serve condiment island. An original Magic Cream composed of secret ingredients ties sweet and spicy flavors together before chow-downs commence in a space embellished with colorful accents and murals of Mexican landscapes. The Los Feliz location also features an outdoor cabana, which often rings with chuckles during weekly comedy nights.