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photo credit: Jakob Layman

Bavel image
9.2

Bavel

Middle Eastern

Arts District

$$$$Perfect For:Business MealsImpressing Out of TownersVegetarians
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Bavel is the middle child restaurant from the people behind Bestia, the Italian restaurant where it’s still tough to book a table, and Saffy’s, a neighborhood-y spot in East Hollywood that was our highest-rated restaurant of 2022. With siblings like that, you might think the middle child could get lost in the shuffle—but Bavel remains the best of the bunch. This upscale Middle Eastern restaurant combines delicious, deeply personal food with reliably great service, all in a stunning, blockbuster space that buzzes with energy.

Bavel is in the Arts District, on a stretch of pavement that might once have been described as quiet, but is now Times Square for hulking construction cranes. The industrial dining room manages to feel sunny even when you’re sitting down for a 10pm reservation: long green vines hang from the ceiling, a huge open kitchen, and a side patio that nearly doubles the size of the restaurant. It’s a place you instantly want to hang out in, and also a setting that will immediately blur into the background once you start eating.

Bavel image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

The Middle Eastern menu is mostly pumped-up versions of familiar dishes—they’re not trying to reinvent baba ghanoush here—but the food isn’t quite traditional either. There’s hummus with duck ’nduja, grilled celery root with honey mushroom tzatziki, and a lamb neck shawarma dish that’s so big it could be the only thing you order (it won’t be). Almost everything comes with some sort of pita, flatbread, or other carb vehicle to get food to your mouth, and all of them are fantastic. The menu is long, and seeing as you shouldn’t skip any of the sections, it’s impossible to cover in a single visit. This might be a strategic move to get you to come back, but you really need to try the tagine, so that’s going to happen anyway.

And really, everything about this place will have you plotting a return visit. The staff is friendly (though they do have a habit of instructing you on how to eat everything, including hummus), there isn’t a disappointing dish on the menu, and the room feels like a big, orchestrated party, whether you’re sitting at the white marble bar or in one of the big round booths.

There's still a strong chance you'll need to book a reservation in advance (even if you're eating at 5pm), but that comes with territory. Bavel remains a fine-tuned restaurant machine that we'll find any excuse to visit, and we recommend you do the same.

Bavel image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Food Rundown

Bavel image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Hummus and Duck ’Nduja Hummus

There are two hummus options at Bavel: one with duck ’nduja and one without. After eating both, we’re here to tell you should probably just plan to put both on your table—they’re that good. The classic is creamy wth two different types of chili paste, while the duck ‘nduja has a smoky sweetness that goes perfectly with the buttery pita that comes on the side.
Bavel image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Malawach

This dish has been on the menu since Bavel opened. It was one of our favorites then and it’s even more of a favorite now. It involves fried flatbread, grated tomato, herby creme fraiche, a soft-boiled egg, and a spicy strawberry zhoug sauce that we always want more of. Order this or you’ve done it wrong.

Grilled Oyster Mushrooms

We were talked into this dish on one visit years ago, and it’s been a staple of our order since. The mushrooms come out on big skewers and taste like the grill. This is a good thing.
Bavel image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Grilled Prawns

You’ll enjoy a lot of different sauces during a meal at Bavel, but the eggplant tzatziki that comes under these perfectly cooked prawns might just be the best of the night.
Bavel image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Slow Roasted Lamb Neck Shawarma

This dish comes out looking very impressive—a whole roasted lamb neck laid over a huge piece of laffa—and only gets better from there. It’s a rich piece of meat, but add the fermented vegetables to your mini sandwich and your fancy shawarma turns into a G.O.A.T. shawarma.

Wagyu Beef Cheek Tagine

We could tell you about the tagine—it’s very, very good. But the coconut rice it comes with is even better. It’s soft and pillowy with a sweetness that brightens up the decadent oxtail.
Bavel image

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Rose Clove Chocolate Donuts

We never regret ordering these round little donuts, even if we have zero stomach room remaining. Plan to do the same.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

Suggested Reading

Bestia image
8.6

Bestia

For Italian food in Los Angeles, it still doesn’t get any better than Bestia in the Arts District.

Saffy's image
8.9

Saffy's is a fantastic Middle Eastern kebab spot in East Hollywood.

Kismet image
8.3

Kismet, the Mediterranean-Middle Eastern restaurant in Los Feliz, is the kind of casual, breezy restaurant you can use for any occasion.

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