Gettin' me the Zankou

Zankou Chicken has been on my mind a lot lately. Call it an unhealthy obsession or a fast food craving flare up—whatever it is, I’ve suddenly become inflicted with the need to eat some take out hummus and chicken. Fast.

It all started when I drove by the original Zankou Chicken on Santa Monica Boulevard on my way East to Silverlake Wines a few weeks ago. As I spotted the classic red and black sign in a non-descript mini-mall, my sensory memory was flooded with the exotic tastes of Zankou Chicken. I could taste the tart pickles, moist chicken, creamy hummus, nutty Tahini and the soft bite of the velvety garlic paste even though it had been years (seven to be exact) since I had been to a Zankou. When I discovered my husband had never tasted the food, our fates were sealed. We were going to Zankou sooner than later.

Just last week, Hans and I were able to take a leisurely mid-day break and head east for an inexpensive lunch at Zankou Chicken. For those unfamiliar with the Middle Eastern fast food chain, Zankou Chicken is a Lebanese and Armenian family-run restaurant specializing in fresh ingredients and spit fired meats. Their mission, according to their website, is to serve fresh ingredients and authentic family recipes at an affordable price to their customers.

And serve great food for a low price, they do. For less than ten bucks you can get a soda and a Chicken Tarna plate with the works: marinated and flame-broiled chicken, sliced up and served with pita bread and sides of tahini, oil and paprika-topped hummus, fresh radish pickles and a side of their famous secret garlic sauce*.

For $8.50 there’s the Shawerma plate: marinated, spit-fired beef sliced up and served with all the fixings. For anyone looking for a great meal for a low price, Zankou chicken is an excellent find.

Zankou Chicken
1716 S. Sepulveda (Santa Monica and Sepulveda)

*For a great description of what people have gone through to find out the ingredients of Zankou Chicken’s secret garlic sauce (and get the behind the scenes information on the “Zankou murders”), be sure to read this months’ Los Angeles Magazine.

UPDATE: Thanks to a recent posting on Eater LA, here’s a link to a whole bunch of people on Yelp wasting their time over trying to decide what’s in the garlic sauce.


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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.

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