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Open Sesame

Lebanese
5215 E. 2nd Street
Long Beach, CA 90803 | Map
(562) 621-1698
Website

A client turned me onto this restaurant (the original in Long Beach) a couple years ago and I’ve been praising it ever since. A crowded, loud and colorful space on the main drag in Belmont Shores, Open Sesame serves up flavor-packed Lebanese food and the best chicken shwarma I’ve ever eaten.

For those unaware, chicken shwarma is a combination of lean breast and dark meat, seasoned and marinated by the gods and then formed into a huge cylindrical shape and impaled on a vertical rotisserie skewer. Similar to a gyros, it is placed close to the heat source and cooked to perfection. The meat is then carved off and served one of two ways - on a plate with pita, a delectable garlic sauce, tomatoes, wild cucumber pickles and an assortment of sides, or simply wrapped in a pita, for those who prefer a sandwich. Either way, one bite of this and my head explodes.

They also serve a signature appetizer that is a gotta-have. A bowl of cubed and perfectly fried potatoes covered with cilantro, garlic, lemon juice and roasted chili. One bite and I want to scream Ali Baba! This stuff is absolutely mind-blowing. Give me a bowl of these (to split, too much for one person) and a chicken shwarma pita wrap, top it off with their mint ice tea and I’m good to go.

Of course they have all the appetizers and entrees that you would expect at a Lebanese restaurant; hummus, baba ghannouj, grape leave kibbi, beef and lamb kabobs, falafel, filet mignon, grilled shrimp and so on. All of it made with high quality ingredients, seasoned beautifully and cooked properly. They also serve beer and wine.

In 2009, they opened a new location close to my home in Manhattan Beach and I am pleased to say that the quality of the food is identical to the original location. However, I still prefer the colorful madness of sharing a meal elbow-to-elbow with 100 of my closest friends and strangers at the Long Beach restaurant. But, if I’m jonesin’ for chicken shwarma and don’t feel like 30 minutes on the freeway to Long Beach, I’ll take 5 minutes on the flying carpet to the Manhattan Beach place instead.

Go. Eat. Be happy.

 

 

Related: Lebanese | Los Angeles Harbor Area | Lenn Grabiner

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