There’s something mesmerizing about shawarma: meat stacked on a spit and spun ever so slowly as it bastes in cascades of fat and juice. A Middle Eastern specialty, its appeal is almost universal—it even famously influenced the creation of Mexican al pastor.
Little Arabia Lebanese Bakery & Cuisine is in the heart of Anaheim’s bustling Little Arabia. When diners aren’t feasting on flatbreads and pastries, they’re enjoying beef or chicken shawarma sandwiches swaddled in freshly baked pita, or massive combination plates slicked with garlic sauce. The latter are mammoth: enough shawarma for two, a heap of rice, a lightly dressed salad, a puddle of hummus, pickles, and a sheet of that warm, pliant pita.
Ikram Bakery & Grill is locally renowned for its Turkish baked goods. But the little cafe is also home to some of the county’s finest shawarma. Excellent chicken and beef varieties can be ordered individually or as a two-meat combo plate or sandwich. The plate is great, but the sandwich is what you want. What makes it special is Ikram’s fresh pide, a soft, sturdy roll that’s the Turkish equivalent of an airy ciabatta, stuffed with a mound of meat and your choice of fillings such as pickles, onions, and chiles.
Laguna Beach’s Adonis Mediterranean Grill is so dedicated to shawarma that there’s a pair of faux rotisseries flanking the front door. Shawarma wraps are the go-to bites made in the customizable, Chipotle-style model. Grab one and enjoy it as you watch the nearby waves lap the sand.
YOU CAN DO BREAKFAST at Little Arabia Lebanese Bakery & Cuisine, too. Try the fatteh: a hearty bowl of tender chickpeas tossed with hunks of toasted pita bread, creamy garlic yogurt, pine nuts, and butter. It’s not a meal for the carb conscious, but this stick-to-your-ribs dish will jump-start any morning.
Little Arabia Lebanese Bakery & Cuisine
638 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim
Ikram Bakery & Grill
9895 Warner Ave.
Adonis Mediterranean Grill
202 Park Ave.
Photos by Priscilla Iezzi