At Ta-eem Grill, there's good food and celebs
A-listers and everyday folk can't get enough of the food at this Mediterranean eatery in Hollywood.
There are a number of excellent Mediterranean-inspired restaurants throughout the United States in places like New York, Philadelphia and New Orleans. In Los Angeles, Ta-eem Grill is the go-to destination for shawarma, falafel, laffa, hummus, baba ghanoush and other traditional Israeli foods.
Just ask Gal Gadot, the Israeli actress behind the new Wonder Woman film, who stopped in last week for a bite to eat. During our visit, proprietor Yoel Kraizberger whipped out his phone to show a photo of the Israeli actress in the shop.
On the restaurant's menu is their signature shawarma chicken; pargiot, which is grilled chicken thighs topped with homemade spices; kafta, which is grilled beef kebab; and merguez, a spicy Moroccan hot dog. There’s also sabich, which is a pita that contains hard-boiled eggs; Israeli salad, eggplant, parsley, tahini and mango sauce and shakshouka, a tomato sauce with eggs and garlic.
The restaurant is run by Yoel and his wife Sylvie, Israeli natives who opened the shop on Melrose Avenue six years ago. They started out in a smaller space on the block, but once their clientele grew, they moved into their current location in 2014. Photos of their celebrity clientele line the wall. Their authentic Mediterranean cuisine has attracted the likes of Billy Crystal, Jeff Goldblum, Tobey Maguire, NBA star Jared Cunningham and actress Moran Atias.
Yoel, who grins when he speaks, said he started cooking when he was just 12 years old. He learned how to cook shawarma, hummus and the classic dishes of the Mediterranean before he moved to LA. “This is how we grew up in Israel,” he said. “This is what we made.”
The owner is at Ta-eem six days a week, cooking and serving food, managing employees or sitting and doing paperwork in his back office. “I love this place,” he told us. “When somebody opens a restaurant just to make a lot of money, he is never going to succeed. If you do something and you do it right and exactly for what you believe in, you will succeed.”
The restaurant’s décor is industrial and modern, and there is a large, open seating area for parties large or small. Sitting with a friend was customer Rachel Bracker, who had never eaten there before. “The sabich was really good,” she told From The Grapevine. “It was really solid eggplant.”
Avi Kreitenberg, a return customer who had ordered shawarma, raved about his favorite dish on the menu. “I think it’s the best shawarma in the city,” he said, adding that while Israel has the greatest shawarma around, Ta-eem comes close.
With his restaurant, Yoel said he is excited to serve people, and hopes that they have a good time eating at Ta-eem. “Every customer that comes to this restaurant, it doesn't matter what he buys. Even if he buys one falafel ball, we treat him like a million dollars. If somebody comes to my restaurant, I want you to leave with a smile.”
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