Tucked away in an unassuming Tarzana strip-mall, Tel Aviv Grill serves up generous helpings of home-style, kosher Israeli traditionalism. The restaurant itself is as unassuming as its location. Ice-white walls with hints of vibrant green accenting, do little to indicate the customary cooking that happens in an open kitchen, which greets you upon entrance.
An unorthodox ordering procedure ensues. You wait in line to order your food, as you expect. You’re given a receipt and a ticket. You wander over to a deli-style counter where you wait to be acknowledged by one of no fewer than five employees, who take your ticket and work with you to make your perfect meal.
You order a basic item. Falafel, chicken (shawarma, schnitzel, breast or skewer), steak or salmon are all available. You designate how you would like that item; In a pita, baguette, laffa (burrito like wrap) or plate. So ends the ticketed information. Now you choose each and every additional item, free of charge.
Homemade hummus is a staple for every dish, usually accompanied by a chili paste or garlic-parsley sauce, reminiscent of chimichurri. A cucumber and tomato salad accompanies most items perfectly. White or red cabbage are shredded regularly to maintain healthy fresh piles. Sliced red onion and house tahini sauce are available too. Side, and still free, items include yellow peppers, pickles and their specialty chili-pickled green olives. These and the house made french-fries and roasted eggplant complete everything the Tel Aviv Grill has to offer. It is up to you which permutation of those elements you’d like on your plate.
Tel Aviv Grill is famous for their Falafel, and rightly so. A chunkier consistency than most, the veggie balls are fried to a perfect outer crisp, while maintaining a moist flavorful center. When ordered in a pita, the cooks will stuff the pocket with as many falafel and desired ingredients as possible. A sizeable meal for a few cents over $6. Pitas are brought in from a trusted supplier and are baked fresh every morning. Everything else is made in-house. From the hummus to the shawarma, the owners oversee to production of every item.
The service is an organized chaos. If you stand back and observe it, you’ll be confused and, shortly after, impressed. Customers never wait more than a few minutes between ordering and receiving their food.
The only negative aspects of the Tel Aviv Grill are contained in the location itself. The parking is limited and almost always unavailable. The restaurant is always busy. The Tel Aviv Grill moved to this Tarzana location several months ago, after outgrowing their Reseda space. It’s immediately apparent this isn’t enough room either. The dining area, which seats about 45 people in a seat-yourself order, is never open. If you plan to eat there, plan to wait for seating too. Happily, they cooks will gladly package your order to go.
Tel Aviv Grill
19014 Ventura Blvd, Tarzana CA, 91356
Sunday-Friday hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
$6 to $18 price range