The Best Persian Restaurants In LA

14 excellent Persian spots for kabobs, ghormeh sabzi, and more.

Los Angeles is home to the largest Iranian population outside of Iran, which also means it's home to some of the best Persian restaurants in the country. The heart of this community undoubtedly resides along Westwood Blvd. in West LA, otherwise known as Tehrangeles or Persian Square, but that's not the only area in LA home where you can find tahdig and mast-o musir that will knock your socks off. From a hot bar with warm sheets of flatbread in Van Nuys to an iconic kebab house in Glendale, here are our 14 favorite Persian restaurants around LA.




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If you only have time for one meal in Westwood's Persian Sqaure, head to Shamshiri. Open since 1981, this Tehrangeles landmark is one of the oldest Persian restaurants in the area and a place you can walk into any night of the week to find first dates, family meals, and friend get-togethers all happening at once. Their tahchin—a baked basmati rice cake layered with yogurt, saffron, and barberries— is an essential dish of the neighborhood, and their earthy, spicy curry stew isn’t far behind. You can get the curry as its own entree, but we prefer to order it as part of the tahdig appetizer, which comes with crusty rice and another stew of your choice.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Glendale is a city that lives and dies by its neighborhood institutions, and Raffi’s is one of the very best. Saying this long-running Persian spot specializes in kabobs is like saying that Paul McCartney specializes in playing music. Our favorite skewer here is the beef barg (thinly sliced filet mignon), which arrives char-gilled and perfectly seasoned, but you really can't go wrong with anything on the menu served on a bed of fluffy sumac-dusted rice with grilled tomato and Anaheim pepper. Most dishes run above the $20 mark, which seems high until you realize Raffi’s portions will feed you and your social circle for a week. The space has a French bistro-ish theme, with white tablecloths, wicker chairs, and striped awnings, and also there’s a tree in the middle of the restaurant if that’s the kind of thing that makes you excited.

If you’re headed to this classic daytime shop on Westwood Blvd., chances are their famed beef tongue sandwich is on your agenda. And for good reason: meaty, tender, and deeply savory, it's a masterpiece that's one of the best lunches in the neighborhood and one of our favorite sandwiches in the city. That said, it shouldn’t be the only thing you order. The kuku sabzi, an aromatic, herb-based frittata, is fantastic either as a sandwich or as an entree, and the juicy beef koobideh comes with thin, chewy sangak that soaks up the marinade and becomes a little after-meal… meal. And we highly suggest eating on their pleasant patio— it feels like the social heart of the neighborhood every afternoon.

You'll find the minced meat kabob known as koobideh on the menu at almost every single spot on this guide, but the best ones are served at Taste of Tehran. This tiny, order-at-the-counter Westood shop seasons their kabobs to perfection, making sure they're plump and tender while maintaining that slight snappy texture. While the meats are a priority here (the citrusy cornish hen kabob is another standout), we also recommend getting involved with their dips. The tangy, thick mast-o-musir—strained yogurt mixed with chopped shallots—improves anything it touches. In fact, we usually get two orders: one for the meal itself and another to spread on everything we eat the rest of the week.

Persian-style pizza is one of the most popular street foods in Tehran, but if you want to try it in LA, head to Café Glacé. This casual snack shop specializes in personal-sized pies that are thin and crunchy, with almost no sauce and a whole lot of cheese on top. Like, Garfield’s lasagna level of cheesiness. If it's your first time, go with the Mix. Topped with beef mortadella, hot dogs, green peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms, it's a salty-savory masterpiece that should be on any pizza aficionado's shortlist. You’ll also notice packets of ketchup and ranch sauce in your takeout box—squiggle them over the top. The pizza purists can shout all they want, but the combination of sweet ketchup and creamy tart ranch is shockingly brilliant and takes this pizza to a new level of excellence.

If you ask 10 people where the best kabob in Glendale is, you’ll get 20 answers. If you ask us, we’ll tell you to at least check out Moon Mart before making any sweeping proclamations. This tiny Persian-Armenina strip mall spot makes a beef luleh kabab that’s warm, herbaceous, and requires very minimal work from your incisors. Plus, the plate also comes with rice, a roasted tomato, and a side salad. Beyond kabobs, they also do an excellent version of the rich, lamb and chickpea stew ab goosht served with raw onion and herbs, and an olivier salad that puts all other creamy potato salads to shame. Be sure to pick up an extra side or two of the mast moosir (creamy lebni) for all your dipping needs in the week ahead.

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The legendary dish at father-and-son-operated Nersses Vanak in Glendale is ab goosht, a rich and hearty stew of lamb, chickpea, potato, and various spices that's served in two parts. You'll be presented with a bowl filled with the dark red tomato broth from the stew and a plate of the stew fillings—tender lamb chunks and vegetables—that have been smashed into oblivion so they become a thick, incredibly savory paste. Another plate of raw onion, basil, and sheets of fresh-baked lavash comes with it. Take a big spoonful of the stew paste, spread it on the bread, add some herbs and onion, wrap it up and dip it in the broth, eat, and repeat. If that's still not clear, just watch the rest of the tables around you—chances are they'll all be involved in the same mouthwatering dance. Get a side of their housemade pickles, too.

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Most of the spots on this guide serve a mean chicken kebab, but the Juicy Chicken at Darya on Santa Monica Blvd. in West LA is a notch better than the rest. Marinated overnight in a combination of lemon juice, yogurt, and saffron, the hunks of meat literally ooze when pierced with a fork. The kebabs are grilled to such perfection here, we recommend sticking to them as the main event over the stews (though the fensenjan is particularly pomegranate-y). Be sure to swap out the standard basmati rice for tahdig or one of the more herbaceous or fruity options—it’s worth the upcharge. When in doubt try the Baghali Polo with dill and lima beans. And don’t be fooled by the chandeliers dangling from the ceiling. Darya is casual enough for any impromptu chicken craving.

Located inside Super Sun Market in Westwood, Laziz is a tiny food counter serving solid versions of beef koobideh, ghormeh sabzi, and the cucumber and herb-filled yogurt dip called mast-o-khiar If you see us here though, we will absolutely be ordering the aush reshteh first. Filled with lentils, chickpeas, fried onions, and chopped fresh herbs like mint, parsley, and dill, it’s the best take on this comforting noodle soup we've found anywhere in the neighborhood. We also love their dolmeh kalam, cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, vegetables, and ground beef, stewed in a rich tomato sauce. It’s sweet, sour, and ideal for a quick lunch.

Santa Monica’s Tehran Market is an all-around great destination for Persian spices, snacks, and sweets on the Westside. But it's their weekend kabob grill that earns it a spot on this guide. From 11am-3pm(ish), follow the charcoal smoke to their back parking lot where you'll find cooks grilling koobideh, marinated cornish game hens, vegetables, and lamb livers, among other juicy proteins. Along with fully loaded kabob plates, they’ve also got a bunch of stews, dips, and fresh lavash bread, which are all highly worth your time.

Persian restaurants are not thick on the ground in the South Bay, but even if they were, a place like Saffron Food Market in Torrance would still stand out from the pack. This hybrid grocery store-restaurant run by a husband-and-wife team offers a full menu from a lunch counter in back—our go-to is the soft and fork-tender chicken koobideh, which along with rice and a grilled tomato, includes lavash, raw onion, packets of sumac, and pats of foiled-wrapped butter (all these condiments are a good sign). Persian stews and soup tend to rotate daily, but if you see the barley and lentil one topped with a dollop of sour yogurt, don't hesitate. If you're not taking your order to-go, there's a quiet seating area next to the store's bakery case—convenient for grabbing a wedge of baklava on the way out.

Not be confused with Flame International & Hookah Garden around the corner on Santa Monica Blvd., this more upscale spot in Westwood is a great place for date night or dinner with the parents. And when we say upscale, we don’t mean the price point, which is comparable to other nearby spots, but the classy décor: The dining room is decorated with light-up art tableaus, white linen tablecloths, and a giant clay oven in the corner. As for the food, get the chicken soltani, which comes with both a koobideh kabob and barg (thick strips of boneless chicken) and can easily feed two people. It comes with a heaping mountain of basmati rice by default, but we upgrade to their great lubia polo instead—the fluffy rice mixed with green bean, potato, carrot, and tomato sauce adds just the right amount of tangy sweetness to the meat on top.

Toranj is located in the heart of Westwood Village, making it an ideal lunch spot if you can’t get too far from UCLA’s campus. They do a brisk takeout service, but if you’re interested in dining in, there’s also a large sidewalk patio that offers great people-watching. As far as the food goes, your priority here should be their signature Juicy Chicken kabob. It’s slightly sweet, somewhat buttery, and so unbelievably tender you’ll forget you’re eating chicken (they also have a spicy version if you prefer some heat). We also like their ghormeh sabzi, which has a pleasant sour edge and goes nicely with the tahdig you should order as an appetizer.

Despite sounding like a generic cafe in an airport terminal, Internation Market Grill in Van Nuys is actually a well-kept secret for solid, affordable Persian food in the Valley. Tucked inside Jon's Supermarket, this counter-service restaurant is basically a long hot bar of stews, rice dishes, and various kebabs (which they will also grill to order for you) with a small seating to the side. All of the food is better than average, but the reason we'd send someone here in rush hour is their freshly baked sangak bread, which is sold in wide, thin sheets that are 4 feet long but still cost only a few bucks. Buy one sheet and some assorted dips and you'll be set on snack foods for at least a week.

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