Photo by Edwin Korouri
Six months ago, The Holy Grill ported their popular downtown LA based food truck into a brick and mortar restaurant located on Pico in the heart of what I like to call “Kosher Restaurant Row.”
The Holy Grill’s presence is welcome in a largely unchanging selection of restaurants on Pico that offer more of the same, a selection that — to the best of my knowledge — has not hosted a shawarma spot like one would find in Israel. The Holy Grill fills this unique role, an experience long awaited by residents of the Pico-Robertson neighborhood.
Upon walking in, I felt a surge of nostalgia that transported me back to vacations spent exploring little known hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Israel. When I expressed this thought to the owner, Adiel, he said the ambiance of the restaurant was designed around creating the exact feeling I felt. The simple layout and decor of the store resembles that of any hole-in-the-wall eatery one would stumble upon in Israel. However, The Holy Grill features more spacious seating that gives customers the flexibility they might not typically experience in Israeli restaurants. In addition, a clean, modern look permeated everything from the seating to the artwork on the walls to the design of the ordering stand. These new takes on a stereotypical kosher restaurant schema were welcome and contributed to a decor unique to few kosher restaurants.
Aside from decor, one of the greatest factors contributing to this ambiance was the Israeli soccer game being streamed on the TV, which everyone in the restaurant had one or both eyes on. Adiel explained that he was watching his favorite soccer team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, play in a close game. While I was eating, it didn’t feel like I was in a new restaurant, trying new food, watching a team I don’t root for, surrounded by strangers; instead, I felt like I was served a home cooked meal watching my hometown team take on their rivals with close family and friends. That was certainly a unique feeling I do not recall experiencing before in a restaurant — it is one I definitely have never experienced in Los Angeles.
In terms of the food itself, I ordered a classic — shawarma in a pita. The food was prepared immediately, and as one would expect, all toppings were customizable to my order. I stuffed my pita with hummus, charif, fried eggplant, Israeli salad, onions, fries, chicken and topped it with techina. The shawarma itself was cooked a little on the more well done side, but I thought the sandwich itself was just as good as the other kosher shawarma spots I’ve tried in Los Angeles, i.e. Taeem and Dr. Sandwich. It was clear that Holy Grill took the time to make sure all ingredients were freshly prepared. The chicken itself had an extra bit of a kick (the charif was spicier than others I have tried), while the creamy hummus complemented all present flavors. I’m sure no combination of ingredients a customer would use to create a (literally) overflowing sandwich would leave them disappointed.
Pricing is always a concern for students, but Holy Grill’s pricing is fair in that it is comparable to that of other kosher shawarma in Los Angeles. In fact, Adiel mentioned to me that he was looking into creating an after school combo that would feature discounted pricing for hungry students making their way home. As previously mentioned, the restaurant is located in Pico-Robertson, and while this discount might not be enticing to students living in Westwood, commuters living in this neighborhood will be excited to hear such an offer may soon be a reality. For those with their mouths watering in Westwood, the restaurant does support Postmates delivery (tip: check out their website for free delivery codes).
With their delicious meals that could almost be mistaken for home-cooked meals and an ambiance that reminded me of both Israel and nostalgic family gatherings, The Holy Grill is well worth the visit for anyone having Israel withdrawals after Birthright or for someone just looking for a reliably lip-smacking meal that is sure to send eaters into a religious experience.