Shanto’s Bakery stands out in the San Gabriel foothills.
Before Shanto’s Bakery arrived, I associated La Crescenta with hiking Mt. Lukens and mountain lions, since I scaled the former, and distant cousins who live in the neighborhood described frequent appearances from the latter. Squid Ink contributor Liana Aghajanian gave me a reason to eat in the suburban community for the first time in years, so I powered up the 2 freeway with my friend Matthew “Mattatouille” Kang and his sister Michelle to visit Shanto’s Bakery, Shaunt Adessian’s establishment in a La Crescenta strip mall, which touts the tell-tale image of a cedar, Lebanon’s national tree.
My meal started with a bialy-like creation studded with sesame seeds, split and filled with za’atar, an aromatic spice blend of thyme, oregano, sesame and sumac.
Lahmajoun ($1.79) was fairly light, topped with lean ground beef, spices and tomato.
They top thin, crispy lahmajuoun with smoky roasted eggplant for an additional $0.99, which contributed a smoky element. Shanto’s Bakery provides two enlightening touches to their lahmajounes: chopped parsley and a lemon squeeze.
Two lahmajounes are plenty, so we sought other flavor profiles, beginning with Soujouk & Cheese ($3.99) with crumbled sausage, a savory cheese blend and a slightly thicker base.
Esfiha ($2.99) also touted lean ground beef, onions and spices. This particular flatbread benefited from tangy pomegranate sauce.
Falafel ($4.99) turned out to be a multi-faceted, folded over sandwich filled with a layer of ground, baked garbanzo beans, tart pickle spears, creamy tahini, firm tomato slices and crispy, blistered bread. Baked falafel might take a little getting used to, since it lacks crisp crunch, but it was a pretty good sandwich, especially with the house-made bread.
We strayed from flatbread by ordering a triangular turnover with sharp Kashkaval cheese.
Sahlip ($2.99) amounted to a milky, chai-like creation served over ice in a Coke cup, flavored with fragrant orange blossom water and sprinkled with cinnamon. This particular beverage is bound to be dessert friendly, and Shanto’s has Ashtalieh, Namura and Sphoof to spare.
According to news reports, mountain lions are apparently still roaming La Crescenta, and the community even added a meatball-loving black bear, but at least residents can take some comfort in knowing they have savory and solid Lebanese flatbreads at their disposal.