Falafel and Other Middle Eastern Foods in Pasadena?

We’re regulars at Sahara (http://saharapasadena.com/) - possibly because it’s within walking distance down Colorado, though we do like the food.

Our typical order from any of these restaurants usually includes a bunch of falafel, plus hummus, babaganoush, tabouli, and extra pita.

We’ve had take out from Deluxe Cafe & Lounge (http://www.deluxepasadena.com/) on Washington and weren’t thrilled: nothing was bad, but nothing was great. However, it may have been because we brought it home rather than eating there.

Raffi’s (http://www.yelp.com/biz/raffis-catering-and-banquet-pasadena) on E. Sierra Madre at Michillinda was very bland, both dine in and take out.

Babylon Cuisine on N. Sierra Madre (http://www.yelp.com/biz/babylon-cuisine-pasadena) was so smokey - thanks to the hookah and cigarette smoke from their patio - that we left before ordering.

Famous Shish Kebab (http://famousshishkabob.com/) has a great olivieh salad and good hummus; however, their falafel are not to our tastes - not sure if it’s a cultural difference, as they’re Persian, but very green and herbaceous. There’s nothing wrong with that, but not a flavor we crave.

On our list to try are Mediterranean Cafe (http://www.kokosmediterraneancafe.com/) on S. Lake and U PiCK Cafe (http://www.upickcafe.com/) on N. Lake.

What are we missing / where should we go (in Pasadena or very nearby, please!).

ETA: Bonus points if they make their pita in-house or at least offer a pita that fresh and not a dry, flat, stale disk!


I love Med Caf’s shawarma, though part of that may be sentimental memories of teenage lunches there. Unfortunately I can’t remember having their falafel.

I also quite enjoy the U Pick on York in Highland Park - fairly straightforward, but very nice in my estimation. If they make the stews Gheymeh and Ghormeh Sabzi at the Pasadena U Pick I highly recommend them.

Expand your horizon. Without ever leaving Pasadena.

Go to Monta Factory

Get the manti and some tomato soup, and it’s like you’re back in Armenia. Ok, maybe not. But you get what I mean.

Monta Factory
1531 E Washington Blvd.
(x-street is Bresee)


I can’t find a menu online: do they have a vegetarian manti or other veg options?

Just the soups and the stuffed grape leaves, unfortunately.

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They do have vegetarian manti, but they must be ordered at least one day ahead, so I wasn’t able to try them. They also have su beurek, a crisp pastry with cheese, which was delicious and ever so greasy.

The su beurek are in the upper right-hand corner.


Great use of light on that photo.


Aww thanks, @J_L! It was a lucky accident. Love your photos, BTW.

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As Malady says, they have a cheese mantee which can be ordered in advanced, but the Su Borek is really terrific. I actually enjoy it more than the mantee which is good, but pales in comparison to Mantee in Studio City which is a sister restaurant to one of my favorite restaurants in Beruit.

Their version of Borscht is great too.

Panos down the street is one of the best bakeries for lamajoun, maniesh, and zatar bread. I just found out that she’ll sell her amazing zatar separately. They made respectable grape leaves. Sometimes it’s advisable to order in advance.

Good Foods Market on Allen and Washington has good take away (tabouli, hummus, etc.).

Garni Meat Market cooks their meats by request. That is a jewel of a place. Love the quail.

Happy eating along Washington!

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You might check the deli section at Super King in Altadena. Lots of stuff there and multiple varieties of pita.

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Mediterranean Cafe is in my go to rotation weekly. Imo, they have the best beef kabob, and their hummus is creamy and my all time favorite falafel. Their weakness is that their pita is dry, thin and lifeless (that’s why I get the plates and not the pita wraps ) and I wish they had some sort of sweets or dessert option even a premade bakalava or something haha. Their garlic sauce and hot sauce are also very good, I put Med Cafe at the top my list overall when you consider the value (not huge portions but rock bottom priceing) and quality of their meats. Not sure what they marinate their beef in but the texture and flavor is really memorable and I still haven’t found a spot that compares. I love the laffa bread at Joe’s falafel and Ta-eem grill and others are noteworthy but for me I’d take Med Cafe over any of those places for a go too rotation place especially if you’re in pasadena.

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We’ve decided to do “Middle Eastern” (I know there are many cultures, all with distinct versions of certain dishes - I hate lumping them together!) take out for Valentine’s Day.

Currently dithering between Wahib’s Middle Eastern in Alhambra which we’ve been to many times, but not in the last five or so years and Falafel Arax in Glendale which we’ve not been to before.

We’ll be ordering falafel, hummus, babaganoush/imtabbal/mutabbal, tabouli, Fattoush salad, and extra pita.

Any and all guidance appreciated! (Including other places and what to order, with the constraint that we want to stay within 20 minutes of Pasadena and will be ordering vegetarian.)

(Dessert will be carrot cake from Lark in Pasadena.)

did you pair with sashimi salad ?

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hayat’s kitchen in noho
skaf’s kitchen in noho
skaf’s kitchen in glendale

if you do hayat’s kitchen, just go for the veggie platter but uh, make sure you move the falafels off the tabouli…they do that for to go orders for some damn reason. bakalava is also great. also make sure they give you tahini sauce cuz sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t for the veggie platter :slight_smile:

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We were considering Skaf’s - weren’t sure of the QPR. It seems, from the Yelp photos, a bit higher priced and maybe best reserved for dining in?

QPR isn’t bad but certainly not great. More value @ NoHo location; NoHo is more hole in the wall, Glendale more sit-down. I’ve done takeout from both and it’s been good.

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Yup, that’s how I roll. :grin:

We lost track of time - had decided to try Hayat’s Kitchen, but couldn’t muster driving from Pasadena to there and back at rush hour. So we tried Falafel Arax. Should have braved the traffic.

Staff was marvelous, food was ready when we arrived, and it inexpensive. Fatoush salad was a bit lemony but good; same for the tabouli. Hummus was also lemony and not as smooth as I like, but decent. Babaganoush/mutabbal was slightly chunky and nicely smokey. Falafel were very salty and oil-laden, like the oil hadn’t been hot enough. I ate half of one and called it quits.

The cake, though, was good.


Thanks for the report-- I’ve been wondering about Falafel Arax since I drive by it every so often.

We’re fans of the Glendale Skaf’s-- my husband often brings home takeout. It’s his favorite hummus anywhere. I’m a big fan of the lemony cabbage salad (forgive my ignorance if that salad has a name). We like the kabobs, and the falafel is unremarkable and just fine given the convenience.


whee did you get sashimi salad ?