Hayat's Kitchen | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Hayat's Kitchen

photo by Amy Scattergood

Some of the best Lebanese food in Los Angeles sits obscured in the corner of a North Hollywood strip mall, wedged into a wide stretch of boulevard heavy with auto repair shops and nail salons. If there’s a finer metaphor for the Valley’s hidden culinary potential, it’s hard to envision. For years Hayat’s Kitchen has been the less flashy cousin of Carnival and Carousel, a place where popping in for sumac-dusted kafta kabobs, labneh with olive oil and a pot of mint tea on the patio is as satisfying and simple as you’d imagine it to be in a Beirut cafe. In all likelihood, though, you will order a feast — intended or otherwise. Tables groan under plates of mezze: hummus draped with shawarma and toasted pine nuts, fattoush salad brightened with lemon, and the infamous batata harra, french fries topped with an obscene amount of chopped garlic. It’s probably better to bring a crowd.—Garrett Snyder