You can’t often say you’ve had a one-of-a-kind dining experience, especially in Los Angeles. While the food in LA is varied, you are bound to find multiple locations that offer a similar cuisine. But Ta-Eem Grill is one of the only restaurants of its kind in this vast, diverse city.
These are the kind of restaurants I crave, the kind of food spots that I dream of.
Ta-Eem Grill is a Mediterranean restaurant but what makes it special is that it’s focused specifically on Israeli staples. The menu is simple and straight to the point. There is shawarma, falafel, hummus, pita bread, and kabobs. While looking at the menu, the staff were extremely friendly and informative, but it was still hard to pick.
I ultimately decided to get a plate of mergez, which is a spicy Moroccan-style hotdog under a pile of onions. It came with a side of pita and Israeli hummus. Izzy, who has lived in Israel, got a shawarma laffa with a side of fries. But he didn’t put the fries on the side — he put them in the sandwich! I was at a loss for words, but also ordered a side of falafel and a hard-boiled egg to distract myself.
The food arrived fast and hot. The plating was simple yet vibrant, with bright, enticing colors and a variety of textures. The servings were giant. The plate of mergez was glorious. I’ll be honest — I’m not a huge hotdog fanatic. Shocker I know. But for what it was, I was beyond satisfied. The juicy, flavorful bites of hotdog paired well with the hummus and onions. It was most definitely an overwhelming blast of textures and flavors that worked together as simply as peanut butter and jelly.
The falafel was the perfect texture, crispy on the outside and soft within. Despite being fried, the falafels were not greasy. They came with a Tahiti-style sauce that went gloriously with the warm chickpeas within the crispy casing of the falafel.
The star for me, though, was the pita bread. I am a sucker for pita bread — it’s a carb I can’t ignore. On my flight to Israel, I was obsessed with the little pita bread that came with the meal. I loved dipping the soft pita bread in all of the different sauces and the hummus. I may have even eaten it with bites of the mergez but I can’t be sure, it was all such a blur.
Izzy was busy in his own little world as well. The fry-filled shawarma was clearly intoxicating. This is one of Izzy’s favorite spots and it was one of the first places he recommended to me when I announced the start of this series. He said he walked into the restaurant hungry, made even more dramatic by the rain — yes, it was raining again in Los Angeles. I blame Izzy. He is the constant in these situations.
“The food, as always, is phenomenal. I have weird eating habits, and they not only accommodated but didn’t even bat an eye, so they deserve praise on service alone. Biting into a laffa, I felt like I was back in Israel. The shawarma was juicy, the toppings complimented the meal, and I just had an overall joyous experience,” Izzy told me after days of prompting.
He’s busy, okay?
Despite being fully satisfied with the meal, Izzy and I also checked out a nearby Israeli candy store called Munchies. This vibrant, alternative area is an amazing blend of tradition and boundary-pushing storefronts, making it one of the most fun spots in Los Angeles I’ve had the pleasure of checking out thus far.
The candy store itself was a whimsical world of its own, transporting me to a sweet dream full of gummies, chocolate, and sweets that can’t be found anywhere else. I found staples I enjoyed while visiting Israel as well as new gummies that I have found to be more chewy and tasty than others from department stores. It was well worth the schlep around the city in the drizzle.
Review By the Numbers:
Ambiance — 8/10
The simple decor was full of life and the spirit of Israel, looking a bit like a mom-and-pop shop you’d stop into if visiting. There is no feeling quite like it.
Taste — 9/10
This is a special experience full of strong flavors and exciting textures. Every bite was satisfying. And even the most meh parts of the meals were still something unique you couldn’t have somewhere else.
Portions & Prices — 9/10
For Los Angeles, this place is a great deal. The falafels were 50 cents each! The meals were a regular price but came with heaping portions. If you eat leftovers, it may last you for two more meals.
Izzy’s shawarma — 9.2/10
You heard the guy.
Experience — 9/10
Friendly staff, a chill atmosphere, fast service, and delicious food made this an uncomplicated and satisfying experience. You feel transported to another world and like you are celebrating a culture in the best way possible — eating the food.
TOTAL SCORE: 9/10