The Best Persian Food In LA – Los Angeles – The Infatuation
Los Angeles is home to the largest Iranian population outside of Iran. And while the community stretches from Irvine to Encino, its heart resides along Westwood Blvd. in West LA. Commonly referred to as Little Persia or Tehrangeles, this area is home to Persian bookstores, markets, bakeries, salons, and some of the best Iranian restaurants in Southern California. There are so many places to eat here, that it can be tough to know exactly which spots to prioritize. This guide will help you narrow things down. From bakeries to pizza shops, to giant kabob palaces with unlimited free bread, here are our 14 favorite Persian restaurants in West LA.
The search for LA’s best Persian food is never-ending. We’d highly recommend checking out these guides from LA Times, Discover Los Angeles, and Thrillist, all of which helped us discover more favorites. Have a go-to spot we missed? Shoot us an email or slide into our DMs – we’d love to hear from you.
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If you only have time for one meal in Little Persia, make it Shamshiri. Open since 1981, this Westwood landmark is one of the oldest restaurants in Little Persia 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 the same time. We’d rank their tahchin, a baked basmati rice cake layered with yogurt, saffron, and barberries, as an essential dish of the neighborhood, and their curry stew isn’t far behind. It’s earthy, spicy, and something that’s not as common on neighboring menus. 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.
If you’re headed to this classic daytime-only shop on Westwood Blvd., chances are the beef tongue sandwich is on your agenda. And rightfully so, this iconic sandwich is a meaty, tangy masterpiece and one of the most well-known dishes in the neighborhood. That said, it shouldn’t be the only thing you order. We absolutely love their kuku sabzi, an aromatic, herb-based frittata, that you can get either as a sandwich or as an entree. Get both and fight about which one is better with your friends. The excellent beef koobideh is juicy without being over-saturated and comes with thin, chewy sangak bread that soaks up the marinade and becomes an ideal after-meal… meal. Their patio has also reopened for outdoor dining, and once again, feels like the social heart of the neighborhood every afternoon.
Koobideh is a minced meat kabob dish that can be found on almost every single menu on this guide, but you’ll find our favorite at Taste of Tehran. This tiny, order-at-the-counter shop marinates all their kabobs to complete perfection. They’re juicy and tender, while still maintaining a light crunch, courtesy of the grated onion inside. While the meats are a priority here (their citrusy cornish hen kabob is another standout), we also recommend getting involved with the dips. The mast-o-mousir, which is strained yogurt mixed with chopped shallots, is tangy, sour, and thick. We usually order one for the meal itself and then another for the road to spread on everything else we eat throughout the week.
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Rex Bakery on Sawtelle is a tiny, family-run bakery with excellent homemade desserts and baked goods. Their signature items are cream puffs, which come out flakey and fluffy, and the kind of pastry you’re required to eat at least three of in one sitting. And yes, we have hard personal data on that last part. All that said, our favorite thing behind the case is the Shirini Napelini. Layers of flaky pastry are filled with a tart homemade cream and topped with a slightly sweet whipped cream. It’s crunchy, sour, and exceptionally well-balanced. Grab a box of nan-e nokhodchi, bite-size chickpea cookies with cardamom, and you’ve got yourself an excellent dessert haul. Cash only.
Persian-style pizza is one of the most popular street foods in Tehran, and in West LA, our favorite version can be found at Café Glacé. The crust is thin and crunchy, there’s no tomato sauce, and there’s a lot of cheese on top. Like, Garfield’s lasagna preferred level of cheesiness. The spinach and goat cheese pizza is a standout, simply because of how pleasantly soft and mild the actual goat cheese is, but our favorite pie on the menu is the “Mix.” Topped with beef mortadella, beef hot dogs, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and mozzarella, this is a salty, savory masterpiece and should be on any LA pizza aficionados shortlist. You’ll also probably notice the packets of ketchup and ranch sauce in your takeout box – those are for the pizza too. Let the Neapolitan and New York-style pizza purists shout all they want, the combination of the sugar from the ketchup and creamy sourness of the ranch works, and takes the pizza to a completely new level of excellence.
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On Santa Monica Blvd. and Bundy, Darya is a bit removed from the heart of Westwood’s Little Persia, but this is food we will drive across the city to eat. The menu is stacked with assorted skewered meats like barg and koobideh, but your priority should be on the Juicy Chicken and the Naderi kabob, chunks of filet mignon marinated in a house specialty sauce. The meat itself is tremendously tender, but when mixed with the sweet saltiness of the house sauce, extra breaths of euphoria are required in between bites. As for the chicken, it’s light and citrusy on the outside and juicy and savory on the inside – and will remind you what chicken is supposed to taste like. If you’re in the market for some sides, we recommend the kashkeh bademjan. It’s an earthy eggplant dish that comes topped with sauteed garlic, mint, onion, and whey. It’s light and perfect for stealing bites from between kabob courses.
Shaherzad has been in operation since 1982 and was one of the first Persian restaurants to open in Westwood. Is it home to the most exciting food you’ll find in the neighborhood right now? No, but that’s also not why you’re here. You’re here to pay respects to a bonafide institution, share massive kabob platters with your friends and family, and eat incalculable amounts of free bread from the massive clay oven in the back.
Located inside Super Sun Market, Laziz is a tiny food counter serving solid versions of beef koobideh, ghormeh sabzi, and a cucumber and herb-filled yogurt dip called mast-o-khiar dip. That said, if you see us here (please say hi), 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 our favorite take on this noodle soup in the neighborhood. We also love their dolmeh kalam, cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, vegetables, and ground beef, all in a rich tomato sauce. It’s sweet, sour, and ideal for a quick lunch.
Saffron & Rose is one of the largest brands of Persian ice cream in America and can be found in markets nationwide, but nothing beats a visit to its original shop in Westwood. The tiny spot has been cranking out thick, aromatic Persian ice cream for almost four decades, and still has lines out the door. First-timers can’t leave without trying the saffron-pistachio flavor, but we never leave without getting at least one scoop of the orange blossom as well.
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Not be confused with Flame International around the corner on Santa Monica Blvd., this more upscale spot is a great place for date night or dinner with the parents. And we say upscale, we don’t mean the price point, which is comparable to other nearby spots. We mean it mostly with the dining room which comes complete with light-up art tableaus on the wall, white linen table cloths, and a giant clay oven in the corner. As for the food, we recommend the chicken soltani, which gets you both a koobideh kabob and barg (thick strips of boneless chicken) for about $25. That might seem pricey, but it easily feeds two people. It comes with a heaping mountain of basmati rice, but we usually switch it out for lubia polo instead. This green bean, potato, carrot, and tomato sauce filled-rice dish adds just the right amount of tangy sweetness to the meat on top. Side note – being able to switch out basmati rice for a specialty rice dish instead is commonplace at restaurants throughout West LA.
Farsi Cafe is an excellent option when you need to meet a friend for a casual lunch and don’t have the time or patience for the big crowds at nearby spots. All of their kabobs are good, but their chicken koobideh is a particular standout. It’s juicy, buttery, and evenly spiced end-to-end. We also like their slightly sour ghormeh sabzi, a spinach and parsley-based stew cooked with dried limes, kidney beans, and tender beef shoulder. Farsi also has one of the larger beer and wine menus in the neighborhood, just in case it turns into one of those lunches.
Pink Orchid is a popular bakery on Westwood Blvd. with a massive dessert case filled with everything from cheesecake to tiramisu to chocolate mousse. It’s all good, but we recommend concentrating mostly on the case next to the dessert case. Here is where you’ll find their tremendous sweet crispy bread spiced with cardamom, and most importantly, the piroshkis, which are deep-fried buns filled with housemade custard. To put it simply, they’re perfect. The dough is light and pillowy, the custard is tart, but not sour, and the sugared glaze on the outside elevates all the flavors without overpowering them.
Whether you’re dining in or doing takeout, Javan is a great option when you know you have a lot of people you need to feed. Skewered meat is the speciality here and there’s a $45 family combo pack on the menu that comes with two chicken koobideh, two beef koobideh, one beef tenderloin kabob, a salad, and an absolute mountain of basmati rice. It feeds five people, so it’s a fantastic value for larger groups. Be sure to throw in an order or two of their mast-o-khiar as well. We love its thick creaminess, the crunch of the chopped cucumbers, and freshy herbiness of the mint mixed in.
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. As far as the food goes, the priority here absolutely needs to be the Juicy Chicken. It’s slightly sweet, somewhat buttery, and so unbelievably tender you’ll forget you’re actually eating chicken. If you want some heat on it, order the spicy version, which has been marinated overnight in their special housemade spicy sauce. We also like their ghormeh sabzi, which is a bit more sour than other versions in the neighborhood, and goes nicely with the tahdig you should order as an appetizer.