Chicken Shawarma Plate
From greasy burger joints to healthy organic cafés, fast casual restaurants have taken over the L.A. food scene. You know the drill. Grab a menu at the counter, order your food and drinks, pay the cashier, take a number, and sit yourself down at the closest empty table. It’s efficient, it’s easy, and it allows the customer to be left alone. If this dining experience sounds impersonal and slightly detached, that’s because it is.
But while there seems to be a new fast casual café popping up on every block, it’s still possible to find those classic, family-run joints that set their roots in a neighborhood and contribute to the diverse cultural landscape that gives L.A. its eclectic character. At Shefa, the Mediterranean restaurant on Melrose Ave, you do order at the front, but chances are you’ll be ordering from the owner himself, David. You can ask him for a recommendation. You can ask him how he makes his meat. And you can even ask him how he’s doing. Because if you’ve dined at Shefa more than once, you already feel like family.
Once you find yourself a table, don’t expect to sit in solitude until your plate arrives. Like at any good Middle Eastern family dinner, you will be served a few small portions of salads and veggies before you receive your main dish. Everything at Shefa is made in-house, including the generous portion of warm pita bread and tahini sauce that accompanies the platter.
But don’t fill up too fast because shortly after, your dish will arrive. And this weeks OTM item is nothing to sneeze at. Not only is the OTM Chicken Shawarma Plate piled high with chicken, but it also comes with hummus, cucumber salad, and a tower of fries. You will leave feeling well-fed. And more importantly, as you wave goodbye to David, you will leave feeling well-cared for.
While David took care of the customers, we shared a meal with Preston, Shefa’s PR Manager, to learn more about the restaurant.
What’s the story behind Shefa?
It’s a family-operated kosher restaurant. The couple who owns it has been serving food in this neighborhood for over twenty years. The inspiration for the food is home-style Mediterranean cuisine.
How is the chicken shawarma made?
All the recipes are family recipes. The chicken shawarma recipe has been in David’s family for over 50 years. It’s a two day long process that involves covering the chicken with a blend of 27 different hand-ground spices and marinating it for 24 hours. It’s then slow-cooked for another eight to ten hours. Everything is made from scratch, and because it is a kosher restaurant, the food preparation is very regulated.
What does it mean to be a kosher restaurant?
There are a lot of rules that the owners must follow to pass the kosher restaurant inspections. It’s very intense. For example, Shefa is closed on Friday and Saturday to observe the Jewish Shabbat. They don’t serve pork and they have to buy their meat from kosher butchers who treat the animals according to the kosher rules.
What else would you recommend that an OTM member orders at Shefa?
The falafel for sure. They’re incredible. They also have really refreshing teas and juice that are all made in-house.