Where To Get Great Shawarma In LA
12 of our favorite shaved-from-the-spit shawarma spots.
Finding good shawarma in LA isn’t difficult—but finding great shawarma is. Or, at least, it requires a bit more effort. Luckily, we did the leg work of seeking out those spots where the art of the marinade, spices, and rotating spit combine to create slow-roasted meat that makes everything else in the world fade away after the first bite. Here are 11 restaurants where you can lose yourself in shawarma bliss.
photo credit: Nikko Duren
If we had to pick one shawarma in LA to reign supreme over its cone-shaped kin, it’s the mixed lamb and beef combo from Hollywood Shawarma. Thinly shaved and tender as filet mignon, each slice at this Syrian-owned spot is rich with a peppery potpourri of spices. But the real magic is how the whole thing comes together in the pan-grilled wrap—the tender meat is coated in nutty tahini for a combination that literally melts in your mouth. Hollywood Shawarma also makes fantastic chicken shawarma, and if you’re hungry, you could probably finish one of each in a sitting. This counter-service operation has a takeout window right along the Walk of Fame, with a couple of stools scattered across the sidewalk. Drop by for a quick, casual lunch or a late-night dinner steps from Hollywood and Vine.
photo credit: Kobee Factory
Located in a tiny Van Nuys strip mall, Kobee Factory serves some of LA's best Syrian food. Most people call ahead for takeout, but around lunchtime you'll find a few locals in their pastel green dining room eating platters of rice-stuffed musadeen, hearty msabbaha dip, and warm bowls of kishik. It’s virtually impossible to single out a favorite dish here, but the crispy chicken shawarma wrap is definitely a contender. The seasoned chicken is juicy, the hummus inside is creamy and fresh, and they sear the flatbread until it gets those beautiful brown grill marks. This shawarma is so good, it usually sells out during lunch, so call ahead if you’re planning on trying it after 3pm.
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photo credit: Tel Aviv Grill
Tel Aviv Grill
Tel Aviv Grill is an Israeli mini-chain with locations dotted across the Valley. Their flagship in Encino looks like any other fast-casual lunch counter, but the quality of the food here stands out like a pair of Crocs at a wedding. As early as 11am, a line forms out front and a majority of the people waiting are getting their beef shawarma. Order it as a hefty pita pocket and it’ll come stuffed with a generous portion of shaved, marinated meat, garlicky yogurt, and chopped tomatoes and cucumber. The beef option usually sells out by 3pm, but the equally juicy chicken shawarma is a worthy runner-up.
photo credit: Best Shawarma
There are tons of great places to get an excellent plate of lamb in Glendale, but when you want tender lamb shavings and a side of french fries, make your way to Best Shawarma. This casual strip mall spot serves lamb shawarma that'll make you want to push back from your table and applaud the team behind the counter, with the perfect balance of smokiness and citrus zest in each slice. Whether you order it on a fluffy French roll, in a pita wrap, or on a plate with a side of rice, pair your lamb wrap with their thick-cut fries and a side of nutty tahini sauce.
Building on the Middle Eastern menu at Bavel, Saffy’s serves food worthy of a special occasion with the energy of a neighborhood spot. Getting a table at this glamorous kebab house in East Hollywood might take some work, but the thrill of eating here makes the fuss worth it. One of the dishes we always save room for is the shawarma. It’s filled with a mixture of perfectly marinated lamb and beef, neatly shaved into thin slices from a rotating wood-fired spit, then wrapped inside fresh laffa so it can be eaten sandwich-style. A bit of tomato, lettuce, tahini, spicy ajika sauce, and sumac-dusted onions are layered in for contrast—all of the textures and flavors work together like a family on a whitewater rafting excursion.
photo credit: Dr. Sandwich
The sheer amount of delicious fillings Dr. Sandwich lets you stuff inside your pita helps forgive the fact that their Beverly Blvd. location has one of the smallest parking lots we’ve ever encountered (seriously, it would make a Trader Joe’s blush). But while making a three-point turn here is stressful, ordering is not: get the shawarma. This chicken goes great on plates, sandwiches, or any of Dr. Sandwiches’s protein-heavy salads, so it really comes down to what you want to pair it with. The thoroughly seasoned chicken has a beautiful golden color and a nice char, allowing the thigh meat’s juices to burst forth once it’s shaved from the spit.
When it comes to great shawarma in LA, it doesn’t get more classic than Skaf’s. The tiny, order-at-the-counter Lebanese grill in North Hollywood has been operating for almost two decades (they have a second location in Glendale as well). Both the chicken and beef shawarma are equally good in our book, so just do what we do and get the mixed plate. Be sure to throw in a cabbage salad and some stuffed grape leaves, too—both are excellent.
Even if you aren’t roaming around the deep Valley, ’Saj is worth the trek. This Lebanese bakery/restaurant in Granada Hills has an excellent menu with over 70 different items on it, but the chicken shawarma should always be your first move. Perfectly marinated with just the right amount of char on the outside, this is shawarma that makes you involuntarily close your eyes and briefly forget about the 150 other things you have to do today. Also, be sure to order some baked goods like the crunchy, cheese and onion-filled saroukh.
Marouch has been in operation since 1982, and is one of the city's longest-standing Armenian/Lebanese restaurants. Plain and simple, it’s an institution. And while many people come to this Hollywood strip mall spot for their incredible mezze (the muhammara will change you), no meal is complete here without an order of their beef shawarma. Perfectly barbecued and covered in a special house marinade, it’s sweet and salty with just the right amount of spice.
photo credit: Ta-Eem Grill
Ta-Eem is one of those places that you’ve either never heard of, or you’ve been going to twice a week for three years. Located right on Melrose in the Fairfax District, they’re a total neighborhood spot, but one with food good enough to leave your neighborhood to eat. The chicken shawarma is marinated in their special house sauce and has a slight sweetness to it that separates it from other great spots in LA. You can get it with pita, baguette, or laffa, but we recommend just doing the plate. At $22, it’s definitely on the pricier side, but the portion size is massive and good for two meals, easily.
Sunnin Lebanese Cafe
With locations in both Westwood and downtown Santa Monica, Sunnin is an LA institution and easily our favorite option for shawarma on the Westside. Both the chicken and beef are equally delicious, so try both and then fight with your friends over which is better. If you’re really hungry, definitely go with the plate (it comes with hummus, salad, rice, baba ghanouj, labneh, and soup), otherwise, the wrap is ideal for a quick meal on your lunch hour.
Al Basch Chicken
Open since 2017, Al Basch is one of the newer restaurants on this list, but when it comes to a quick, affordable meal in Hollywood, this order-at-the-counter spot on Sunset is already one of our favorites. As the name suggests, chicken is the star of the show here, and whether you’re in the mood for shawarma, kebabs, or whole chicken, Al Basch is making the best in the neighborhood. The shawarma itself has a subtle tanginess that we love, and if you order it on a plate, it comes with an excellent side of rice and salad (two things that tend to be afterthoughts at other spots). Also, get an extra side of hummus—it’s very good.