Alcazar: Finding a Different Type of Fries in Encino [CLOSED]

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Restaurant Sign Los Angeles

Alcazar is a flavorful side project from vaunted singer Vatche.

The western fringe of L.A.’s San Fernando Valley is a wonderland for Middle Eastern cuisine. You’ll find dozens of Armenian, Israeli, Persian and Lebanese dining options, and when kebabs and falafel just aren’t enough, head to Alcazar, a nine-year-old restaurant that sells a long list of Middle Eastern classics. What distinguishes Alcazar from L.A.’s other Middle Eastern restaurants are their more challenging cuts of meat like livers, tongues and “fries.” The “international singer” Vatche croons in eight languages, so you know the man has range, and that also applies to his restaurant’s food.

Restaurant Los Angeles

A palace called Alcázar in Sevilla, Spain, inspired the restaurant’s design.

In the main dining room, colorful murals flank a stage that frequently hosts live entertainment. On weekends, Alcazar has been known to draw big crowds for musicians and belly dancers. Out back, a patio faces the shopping center’s courtyard.

Every meal at Alcazar begins with ultra-tart pickled vegetables, intensely flavored olives and standard-issue, store-bought pita. On the weekends, they upgrade to fresh-baked sajj, a flatbread topped with zaatar, cheese and basturma.

Mattatouille and I shared three different dishes. Each organ meat is available in two different preparations.

Lebanese Food Los Angeles

Our choice for Sawdat Djej ($8.95) – sautéed chicken liver – involved pomegranate juice and garlic. The chunks were definitely rich, but had great depth of flavor.

Lebanese Food Los Angeles

Beyd Ghanam ($8.95) was the day’s most daunting dish, lamb fries sautéed with tangy lemon sauce, firm pine nuts and dusted with sumac.

It’s hard to tell from their appearance, but “fries” are actually testicles. The surprisingly delicate slices weren’t gamy in the least and had silky, supple texture. Thankfully there was no visible evidence of the meat’s origin.

Lebanese Food Los Angeles

L’sanat ($8.50) was an amazing dish, tender sautéed slices of lamb’s tongue with caramelized ends and an intoxicating blend of oil, lemon and garlic. Whispy onion strips soaked up the dressing’s flavor.

With all or our organ meat dishes, there was nothing to cut the richness. Even a plate of rice would have helped to temper the weight of our undertaking.

In the future, I might build up the nerve to eat Alcazar’s K’Khaat, beef brain dressed with garlic, lemon and oil. I’m also interested in trying their sajj. Sajj may not be so challenging, but it’s fun to say and sounds even better to eat.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

[…] have allowed him to reserve a corner of the menu for “adventurous territory.” Although the lamb testicles and beef brains which were big sellers in L.A. may not soon show up on King Street, Awkar promises frog legs, […]

The tongue looks tantalizing!

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