Newhall may be widely known as Hollywood’s Wild West, but Persia Lounge has had no trouble mixing things up with flare from The Middle East. Fall-off-the bone meats, rich hummus, saffron rice and seemingly endless lavash meld with belly dancing, hookah and live music for a holistic cultural experience. As little ol’ Downtown Newhall continues to expand and attract more attention from ‘Mainland LA’, it’s places like Persia Lounge that are bringing the area an elevated allure, not to mention great taste.
Persia Lounge’s humble setup speaks to its authenticity. An inviting, minimalist dining room wraps around the restaurant’s small enclosed kitchen and leads to the lounge in the back, where hookah, music and dancing proceed to run the show. Wall décor pays homage to ancient Middle Eastern décor, and even has some exposed brick painted on. But it’s the food you’re after, and it comes in heaps at Persia Lounge.
Nobody is going to leave here hungry. The inquiry is confirmed as the appetizer combo arrives with enough lavash bread to carb-load for a marathon. Creamy hummus and masto khiar [yogurt cucumber dip], shirazi salad with diced cucumber and tomato, and light Persian potato set the tone for a menu with just enough familiar territory for everyone to enjoy, and an abundance of potential for adventurous palates to seek new discovery.
Meat is clearly a treasured entity at Persia Lounge, with every dish rich in bold flavor and distinct identity. Take the baghale polo with lamb shank, which you could tear apart with your fingers if you wanted, served in an herbaceous tomato broth that magnifies the flavor profile further. Or the zereshk polo with chicken, a spectacular chicken kabob that seems like it’s been marinating for ages, with saffron rice and the fascinating addition of sour barberry. Then there’s your classic shish kabob, with juicy chunks of char-grilled beef.
If you’re looking for true Halal, this is one of the only shows in town. You’ll also be able to find beers and wines from Lebanon and Armenia, in addition to the labels we all know and love.
Persia Lounge and Restaurant is located at 24328 Main St, Newhall, CA 91321. Open 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Tue – Thu, 11 a.m. – midnight Fri – Sat and 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sun. Closed Mon. Average out-the-door price for split appetizer, entrée and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$40/person. For more information call (661) 259-4100 or visit Persia-Lounge.com.
Crossings, known for hyperlocal American fare, has unveiled a new menu that hones in on spring and summer. Newly hired Executive Chef Kevin Malone has hit the ground running, bringing dramatic attention to detail and a special eye for exotic ingredients built up from his time at Mattei’s Tavern [Los Olivos] and Gargantua, an enchanting Santa Monica pop-up.
Both quaint and dynamic, Crossings allows guests to savor modern flavor in a century-old setting, with brick-and-mortar walls that date back to the building’s construction in 1913. In addition to an intimate dining room, cozy bar, and outdoor patio is the beautiful wine cellar, with a broad list that includes Angeleno Wine Company, LA’s first winery in more than 100 years.
Chef Malone’s range covers flavors from across the globe, with a special focus on locally-sourced ingredients. His heirloom tomato salad sources produce from the nearby farmers market, with creamy burrata, basil and pickled mustard seed. The spot prawn is drawn from the Santa Barbara coast, with Latin-inspired elote corn and queso fresco.
The menu continues its traverse with the Alaksan halibut, utilizing sous vide preparation to retain ridiculous moisture. The al pastor employs sous vide as well—cooking 36 hours undoubtedly releases excellent results, complemented further with amazing roti bread. BTW did you know al pastor is actually Lebanese?
Dessert gets the same seasonal treatment, highlighted by a homemade strawberry rhubarb pie with a buttery crust that’ll knock your socks off. Chef Malone adds fun plays with a white chocolate pot de crème and upscale elephant’s ears.
Crossings is located at Crossings Restaurant, 1010 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030. Open 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. Mon – Thu, 5:30 – 10 p.m. Fri – Sat, 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. Sun. For more information call (626) 799-7001 or visit Crossings-Restaurant.com
Chaya Venice has proudly become CHAYA Modern Izakaya. What began as a humble teahouse in the 17th century has grown into a dining empire, expanding into the US nearly 40 years ago, and is continuing to evolve with its new identity, complete with a fresh look and reinvigorated menu.
Similar to a Western gastropub, a Japanese izakaya is traditionally a drinking establishment which serves small tapas-style plates for sharing. CHAYA Modern Izakaya further bridges the gap between Japanese and American dining with Japanese-Californian cuisine, handcrafted cocktails, premium spirits, Japanese Whisky, eclectic sake and wine, and Japanese and local craft beers.
The chef team—Corporate Executive Chef Yukou Kajino, Executive Chef Joji Inoue and Kaiseki Chef Katsuyuki Wako—have a deep background with CHAYA, Japanese flavor and innovative culinary prowess. The trifecta properly bridges Eastern philosophy with Western techniques, utilizing local seasonal ingredients, with sky-high quality standards for seafood, poultry and meats.
CHAYA’s menu features exotic delights across a broad range of categories, from the chrysanthemum salad to grilled octopus and wagyu chazuke. Sushi is unquestionably essential at CHAYA, with rolls and hand rolls that take you across the Pacific. Guests can also experience daily omakase menus at the Kaiseki chef counter, which replaces the old Chaya’s raw bar as a focal point for chefs to showcase their talent.
An eclectic bar adds to CHAYA’s modern appeal, enhancing the restaurant’s social element by allowing guests to congregate over an extensive sake collection, as well as a strong lineup of Japanese whiskies and Western favorites that make for excellent hand-made cocktails.
CHAYA Modern Izakaya is located at 110 Navy Street, Venice, CA 90291. Open for Dinner 5:30 - 10 p.m. Sun – Thu, 5:30 - 11:30 p.m. Fri – Sat. Happy Hour from 5 p.m. to close. For more information, call call (310) 396-1179 or visit TheCHAYA.com.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.