Having grown up in Montreal where falafel & shawarma spots are almost as easy to find as taco stands in Los Angeles, I couldn’t have been more excited when New York native George Abou-Daoud told me he was planning to open a fast casual Mediterranean / Lebanese eatery inspired by his mom’s cooking: fresh, tasty and decidedly healthy. Less than six months later his vision has beautifully come to life, and Urban Garden is opening Friday on Fairfax next door to the popular Rosewood Tavern. Get ready to experience the best falafel in Los Angeles!
The concept is simple: create your own meal combinations (over 100 ways) choosing from an array of Urban Pita (whole wheat or white) Urban Bowl (brown rice or spinach/cilantro rice), Urban Dip (hummus, sun-dried tomato & garlic hummus, babaganoush, lebneh yogurt, etc.) or Urban Salad (tabouli, fatoush, tuscan kale, etc.), and then add from a selection of toppings including crispy rotisserie chicken, lamb shawarma, beef kefta, falafel, cauliflower, stuffed grape leaves, potato, feta and more. My favorite so far is the fried cauliflower, featured below.
Abou-Daoud made a point to import spices from the Mediterranean (Lebanon, Greece, Syria) in order to offer food that would taste as authentic as possible. For example, he tells me, “the cumin we buy in California is generally grown in Mexico, but the same spice grown in the Mediterranean is much more aromatic.”
His lamb shawarma is 100% natural and offered the traditional way; no fillers and no pressed meat. Urban Garden will also be serving baklavas, a traditional dessert which in the Mediterranean is “as common as apple pie is in the U.S,” he says.
You’ll want to try the babaganoush with lamb and pita, pretty much the most decadent bowl on the menu. So yummy!
Urban Garden will open for lunch, dinner and takeout from 12pm to 10:00pm daily and is located at 446 N Fairfax Los Angeles, CA 90036.
Photos courtesy of Kristin Kirgan