Anaheim's Little Arabia: 11 terrific places to eat

Written by

A platter of mandi with lamb, a glass of sweet mint and lemon juice, a bubbling pot of Hrada of Fahsah, a large round of flatbread and a couple of sambosas at Yemeni restaurant House of Mandi. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW

Anaheim is home to the second largest concentration of Middle Eastern businesses anywhere in the United States, surpassed only by the metropolitan Detroit area. After years of organizing by local proprietors, city officials in 2022 officially recognized the neighborhood as Little Arabia

The spine of Anaheim's Little Arabia neighborhood runs along Brookhurst Street between La Palma Avenue and Garden Grove Boulevard, but it also spans nearby thoroughfares including Ball Road and Katella Avenue. As a culinary hub, this area is one of the best, packed with cafes, sit-down restaurants, bakeries and markets.

The recommendations below will get you started, but they're just the tip of the iceberg. The Little Arabia District website has more suggestions for great eats.


Al-Amir Bakery

905 S. Brookhurst St., Ste. A, Anaheim.

Al-Amir specializes in flatbreads served with a bunch of potential toppings — za'atar, cheese, egg, chicken, ground beef, soujouk (beef sausage), sfeeha (minced lamb), pepperoni, labne (a creamy, yogurt-esque cheese) or some combo of the above. You can get the standard size, which is about the size of a medium pizza, or mini, which fit in the palm of your hand.

A flatbread with cheese and za'atar at Al-Amir Bakery. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW


2947 W. Ball Rd., Anaheim.

An Iraqi restaurant tucked in a strip mall between a Teddy's Red Tacos and a halal hot chicken joint, Al-Tannour serves roasted chicken, a variety of lamb, beef and chicken kabobs, falafels, hummus and baba ganoush. Its specialty is masgouf zbeidi, a whole grilled fish (typically carp), served with tomatoes, onions and pickles. It's Iraq's national dish. Don't skip the kobba musilia, a flat pie of cracked bulgur wheat filled with seasoned ground beef. There's also the geymar, a clotted cream that Al-Tannour serves with honey, date syrup and a board game-sized oval of grilled flatbread. Geymar (known in Turkey as kaymak), is traditionally served at breakfast but it also makes an incredible dessert. Order it with a cup of the house tea.

The masgouf zbeidi (grilled fish) and kobba musilia (meat and bulgur wheat pie) at Iraqi restaurant Al-Tannour. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW

Aleppo's Kitchen

2414 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim.

When Aleppo's Kitchen opened in 2013, Gustavo Arellano (then the editor of the OC Weekly) called it one of the most exciting restaurants to open in Orange County in a long time. A decade later, it still holds up. Although it specializes in Syrian food, Aleppo's Kitchen bills itself as a Mediterranean restaurant, which makes sense since Aleppo, Syria's second largest city, is located in the northern part of the country, near the border with Turkey. Start with an order of muhammara, a smoky dip made with roasted Aleppo peppers and toasted walnuts. The muttabal (eggplant dip) and labne (yogurt dip) are also great. Then, get an order of Mama Suher's yalanji (grape leaves stuffed with rice and spices) and a plate of Aleppo kibbeh, a mix of ground beef, wheat, onions, pine nuts and spices, shaped like a small cigar and deep-fried. The restaurant is best known for its kibbeh, which Arellano describes as "falafel's carnivorous brother." For the main course, either order shawarma or mansaf, lamb braised in a yogurt broth and served on a mound of golden rice.

A spread featuring muhammara, assorted kibbeh, hummus and grape leaves at Aleppo's Kitchen. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW

Altayebat Market

1217 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim.

One of the pioneering family-owned businesses in Anaheim's Little Arabia, Altayebat Market dates back to the 1980s. Aside from a good amount of high-quality produce, its aisles are packed with tubs of halawa, a tantalizing variety of molasses (pomegranate, date, carob, grape), rose water, large containers of yogurt, giant jars of olives, grape leaves (fresh and jarred), olive oil, dried dates and figs, roasted watermelon seeds, multiple kinds of za'atar (Aleppo, Lebanese, Jordanian, Palestinian) and pickled turnips. You'll also find cookies, spices, Cheerios, energy drinks and all the usual foodstuffs of a neighborhood market. 

Sour plums and fresh grape leaves share space with onions, peaches and oranges at Altayebat Market. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW

Forn Al Hara

512 S. Brookhurst St., Ste. #5, Anaheim.

The specialty at Forn Al Hara is manaaesh (aka manakish or man'ousheh), a small, round flatbread that's typically topped with za'atar, cheese, ground meat or some combo of these. And this bakery makes some of the best around. Seriously, they're so good, you'll have trouble choosing and you might need to order a dozen.

An array of manaaesh at Forn Al Hara. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW

House of Mandi 

518 S. Brookhurst St., Ste. #1, Anaheim.

Named for Yemen's signature dish, House of Mandi (located in the former Olive Tree space; RIP) is a gem. Start with an order of sambosas, crisp, light triangles of dough stuffed with ground meat. As its name suggests, the restaurant offers several versions of mandi, a delicious platter of seasoned rice served with fall-off-the-bone tender lamb shanks (or chicken or some combo thereof) and sprinkled with almonds and fried onions. It's served with a yogurt sauce and a tomato salsa so you can dress your mandu however you like. You'd be missing out if you didn't order any mandi but you should also save room for the Hrada of Fahsah, a fantastic stew of shredded beef and lamb with a whipped fenugreek topping that's halfway between yogurt and gelatin (but non-dairy). It's served with a giant piece of tandoori bread so you can tear off strips and scoop up every last drop. The restaurant offers tables and chairs or traditional Yemeni-style floor seating with cushions.

The Hrada of Fahsah, a fantastic stew of shredded beef and lamb, is served boiling hot in an iron pot along with a large round of tandoori bread. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW

Kareem's Falafel

1208 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim.

Mike Hawari and Nesrine Omari opened this Palestinian restaurant in 1996, naming it Kareem's Falafel, after their son. Although Mike passed away, Nesrine and Kareem now run it together. Since debuting, the spot has earned legions of fans and you'll often encounter a line of hungry customers, waiting for the fantastic falafel. (Pro Tip: order ahead!) It zings with flavors and is fried just before it's served. During the pandemic, Kareem and his sisters, Nora and Marwa, revamped the menu, adding items like lime-cilantro hummus and chipotle tahini to attract new customers. We love the classic falafel and the fattoush salad. If you want meat, we recommend the garlic chicken wrap. Kareem's also offers shakshuka, spicy potatoes, kibbeh, shakshuka and baklava.

As its name suggests, Kareem's Falafel is well-known for its falafel. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW


816 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim.

Since taking over the Al Sanabel Bakery space, chef Mehmet Kaplan and wife, Lisa Matarazzo, have broadened the menu to include a broad selection of Turkish dishes. Koftegi, which means maker of meatballs, specializes in köfte, grilled beef and lamb patties. They also offer döner, pide (baked bread boats with meat and cheese), lahmajun (flatbreads topped with a variety of options), soujouk, knafeh and baklava. The food is fresh and expertly seasoned. The portions are large and everything is delicious. If you don't know what to order, get the stuffed grape leaves, the Adana Kebab (a ground beef kebab with a little heat), which comes with hummus and a tomato onion salad, and a pide topped with salty cheese and soujouk. If you're there early in the day, Koftegi serves a full Turkish breakfast, complete with eggs, three kinds of cheese, olives, labneh, kaymak, and za'atar and cheese pies.

The pide with soujouk at Turkish restaurant Koftegi. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW

Zait & Zaatar

510 N. Brookhurst St., Ste. 106, Anaheim.

This strip mall Lebanese spot serves shawarma that's a cut above alongside delicious little savory pies filled with spinach, cheese and meat, and flatbreads with toppings such as zaatar, sujuk (a spicy sausage), lahm b'ajeen (ground beef) or a variety of cheeses (akawi, kashval, haloumi). At Zait & Zaatar, the goodness starts with the fluffy flatbread, which is baked fresh throughout the day and is perfect dipped into a plate of olive oil and zaatar, the oregano-based spice blend that gives this establishment part of its name. (The other half of the name, "zait," means oil.) Order the fried cauliflower and a plate of yogurt dip. If you want a small meal, get a wrap. Unlike many such establishments where the shawarma tastes sort of generic, the meat here is soft and well-spiced. For a heartier meal, get a plate, which comes with salad, rice, dips, pickles and sauces. 

The oven dominates the kitchen at Lebanese restaurant Zait & Zaatar. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW


Knafeh Cafe

866 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim.

As its name implies, Knafeh Cafe specializes in knafeh, a flaky, cheesy dessert that's sweetened with rosewater or orange blossom syrup. Knafeh Khishneh is topped with tiny bits of crisp, shredded phyllo (kataifi) while Knafeh Na'ameh is sprinkled with ground semolina dough (farkeh). Both versions are served here and both are based on a long-held family recipe. The cafe also serves other Middle Eastern sweets such as baklava, balourieh, warbat, maamoul cookies and hareesh (a honey-drenched cake topped with almonds or pistachios). Order with a Turkish Latte.

One version of knafeh served at Knafeh Cafe. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW

Le Mirage Pastry

100 S. Brookhurst St., Anaheim.

In addition to eclairs, cannoli, cheesecake, strawberry tarts, baklava and the standard cakes and cookies you'll find at most bakeries, Le Mirage specializes in delicious Middle Eastern sweets. These include maamoul (crumbly cookies stuffed with pistachios, almonds or date paste), mhalaye (a Syrian milk pudding) and ghraybeh (tubular shortbread cookies rolled in crushed pistachios). But what Le Mirage Pastry is famous for is its booza, a chewy, fluffy Syrian ice cream that's pounded into existence using the resin of the mastic tree. Scented with anise, it's sprinkled with pistachios and rosewater then shaped like a blossoming flower and presented in an elegant glass bowl. 

One of the specialties at Le Mirage Pastry is the fluffy Syrian ice cream known as booza. Photo by Elina Shatkin/KCRW