A True LA Legend, Zankou Chicken Expands to Downtown

Zankou’s falafel plate and Chicken Tarna plate. Photos by Karin E. Baker for The LA Beat.

Beloved by the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Jonathan Gold, Zankou Chicken is undeniably a Los Angeles institution.

Hailed as “a legend” by The New York Times, Zankou’s presence has been impactful. The affordable mini-chain is referenced in Beck’s song “Debra,” figures prominently in driving instructions on an episode of SNL’s “The Californians,” inspired a restaurant on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and was the setting for Childish Gambino’s “Sober” video.

The now-iconic fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant began in Beirut in 1962. 22 years later, after a move to Los Angeles, Zankou’s owners opened the first US location at Sunset and Normandie. Zankou’s newest eatery, its 11th, is located on 7th Street in Downtown LA between Hope and Grand.

The recipes are all kept hush-hush, and who can blame them? The exclusive recipes, and the fact that everything is made fresh from scratch on-site every day, are what make Zankou special.

Haven’t visited Zankou and unsure of what to order? The rotisserie chicken and the garlic sauce — more of a garlic paste, actually — are archetypal. Don’t miss Zankou’s hummus— if you haven’t had homemade hummus lately, you’ll be reminded of how phenomenal it can be. Said hummus is even better in combination with the tabbouleh.

The muttabal dip, a blend of grilled eggplant, fresh garlic, and tahini, is a savory must-try. If you love the rotisserie chicken but want to venture out, try the kabobs or the marinated Chicken Tarna, prepared similarly to shawarma. Zankou’s falafel, cooked in peanut oil, tastes clean and is neither dry nor oily.

Back to that famous garlic sauce. Though richly flavored and generously portioned, I always finish one while craving more. You’ll want to know that Zankou is always happy to give out extra garlic sauce as long as you make a purchase.

If you’re seeking vegan options, the falafel and all sides and salads are plant-based.

Zankou Chicken will celebrate its new location at 611 7th St. with a Grand Opening Event on Thursday, October 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Featuring live music, sweet treats, samples from Zankou’s menu, and more, there will be a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce at 1 p.m. Zankou’s owners have pledged to donate 100% of the proceeds from the event to the L.A. Mission in their quest to help the poor and end homelessness.

Karin E. Baker

About Karin E. Baker

Karin E. Baker is a native Angeleno who loves the eateries, history, nature, architecture, and art of her hometown. When not exploring poke shacks in Kona, tascas in Córdoba, and konditoris in Malmö, she writes about food, culture, lifestyle and travel. She obsesses over comma usage and classic films and is always happy to find an excuse to open a bottle of champagne.
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