Los Angeles

A Swanky New Shawarma Spot from Bestia and Bavel Duo Lands in East Hollywood

Named after the couple's daughter, Saffy's is a homestyle Middle Eastern restaurant that's casual in attitude, but thoughtful and precise in execution.

Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy's
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s

Naming after people is always a bit of a risk-what if that person turns out to be a jerk, or burns a city to the ground? And if Saffron, daughter of Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis and namesake of the couple’s new restaurant,¬†Saffy’s, decides next week that she’s vegetarian, does their giant wood-fired shawarma get the boot?

Because it’s that spinning cone of meat that is at the heart of Saffy’s, Menashe and Gergis’ new elevated kabob shop in East Hollywood. The menu is built on homestyle Middle Eastern cooking, a more rustic and casual version of what the pair have been doing at their magnificent Arts District restaurant Bavel, though the composition of dishes (and their prices) are still a step or three above average.

Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy's
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s

The opening menu at Saffy’s starts with a selection of vegetables like a circle of hummus topped with fermented serrano chilis and the fava bean stew ful, Zucchini Blossoms stuffed with whipped feta then battered and fried and served with tomato dip and zhoug, and a particularly lovely plate of falafel; each one is beautifully presented, swirling and smeared, topped with a generous fistful of fresh herbs. The kabob selection covers pork, lamb, chicken, or a mix thereof, cooked over charcoal and dramatically served on their wide, flat skewers.

Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy's
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s

The shawarma, though, is the absolute showstopper, built on a spit that twirls in front of three separate tiers of wood-burning fire, a rare innovation in LA that looks more like one of the ornate Turkish doner-style spits than what we usually see around here. It is a powerful, if perhaps labour-intensive, way to impart that woody, real fire flavour into the lamb and beef blend that the more common gas-powered shawarma spits don’t hit.

Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy's
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s

There are two other crucial pieces that carry over from Menashe and Gergis’ other projects-Gergis’ fantastic desserts, and their truly spectacular Levantine breads. Thick and fluffy challah comes with the hummus, toasted flatbread with the mussels, and luxurious fresh laffa with the shawarma and kabobs.

Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy's
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s

Vibrant and refreshing are the buzzwords for the cocktail list, an emphasis on bright and light drinks to pair with the punchy and bold cuisine. That means a Paloma Spritz with mezcal; Cherry Limeade with tequila; and a mezcal, passionfruit, carrot, and habanero sour. Naturally, there will also be a selection of wines sourced mostly from the Mediterranean islands and coastline, focused on small producers and responsible agricultural processes. Sitting at the bar with a cocktail or a crisp glass of wine may be the best spot in the house, as the 16-seat bar will frame the kitchen so you can watch the chefs carve shawarma and sprinkle herbs, with a soundtrack of sizzling fat over flame.

Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy's
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s

The design aesthetic of the space is inspired by 1960s and ‚Äė70s Morocco, pale pink with gold accents, khaki booths the colour of Sahara sand, tilework in shades of honey and red like the walls of Marrakech. All of that is layered over classic Hollywood style, in an old art deco building on Fountain just across from Square One, Found Oyster, and Scientology HQ. It may take cues from half-century old fashion, but one look around will show that this is as au courant as it gets.

It may be a bit of a risk to name things after people, but it is no risk at all to bet that a Menashe and Gergis venture will be a smashing success.

Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy's
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s
Photo by Joseph Weaver, courtesy of Saffy’s

Saffy’s is open now for dinner from 5‚Äď11 pm Wednesday‚ÄďSunday, with a more casual sandwich and wrap-focused lunch service coming soon. Saffy’s Coffee & Tea shop will also eventually open next door, with a selection of specialty coffee and house-made pastries. Reservations can be made through OpenTable.

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Ben Mesirow¬†is an Echo Park native who writes TV, fiction, food, and sports. At one time or another, his writing has appeared in The¬†LA Times,¬†Litro,¬†McSweeney’s Internet Tendency,¬†Los Angeles Magazine, and scratched into dozens of desks at Walter Reed Middle School.

Los Angeles

8 LA Fundraisers that Support Abortion Rights and Reproductive Justice

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision, LA businesses and organizations are stepping up to raise money and support reproductive justice for all.

Matt Gush/Shutterstock
Matt Gush/Shutterstock
Matt Gush/Shutterstock

As Beyonc√©’s talented sister Solange once sang, “I got a lot to be mad about.” At the top of that growing list is the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, clearing the way for states to regulate abortion. Since the ruling, abortion is now illegal in states like Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Kentucky, while others like Utah, Idaho, and Missouri, have signaled plans to ban or create significant barriers to accessing abortion services.

Many are outraged by this decision, which is certain to disproportionately impact low-income and BIPOC communities. Protests have erupted in cities across the country and legal battles are already underway in attempts to counteract the ruling. Many are calling for the Supreme Court to be reformed, calling into question other recent decisions, including a ruling that limited the federal government’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions at existing power plants.

Those in California are lucky to be protected by a state constitution where abortion is recognized as an individual right, with Governor Newsom recently vowing to continue to safeguard these rights, as well as women who travel west for reproductive care. But just because we don’t currently have to worry about our reproductive rights being stripped doesn’t mean that we can’t step up and provide support for those who are in the thick of these struggles. From donating to on-the-ground activism, there are plenty of ways to get involved in the national fight to protect abortion care and access for all.

LA’s hospitality industry is doing just that, providing plenty of delicious and fun opportunities to stand up for reproductive rights and abortion care, including food pop-ups, bake sales, wine and mezcal tastings, shopping deals, and more.

Satisfy your munchies at a stoner food pop-up

Ongoing
Genever, Historic Filipinotown
One of our favourite bars in LA right now, women-owned Genever is hosting a weekly Friday pop-up with food from Bodega that they describe as Asian Stoner Food. Every pop-up donates 50% of proceeds to a rotating reproductive rights organization.
Cost: Varies

Photo courtesy of Local Angeles
Photo courtesy of Local Angeles
Photo courtesy of Local Angeles

Order a Westside Cocktail

Ongoing throughout July
Winston House, Venice Beach
Each month, the team at Winston House, a lively supper club off the Venice Boardwalk, donates $1 from every sale of their Westside Cocktail to a different charity. In June, they donated proceeds to The Trevor Project and for July, they’re donating to the National Network of Abortions Funds. The cocktail is made with butterfly pea- and cucumber-infused Future Gin, lime juice, and mint syrup.
Cost: $15

Photo courtesy of Madre
Photo courtesy of Madre
Photo courtesy of Madre

Sip on women-made mezcals at Madre Restaurant

Ongoing from July 11 for four weeks
West Hollywood, Torrance, and Palms
Get an education in mezcal while supporting women with a special mezcal flight curated by owner Ivan Vasquez, featuring women-owned or produced brands. Dubbed Her Mezcal, the flight includes a one-ounce pour of Real Minero, Agua Del Sol, and Rezpiral, available for $45 beginning Monday, July 11, with 10% of the net sales from each flight going to the National Network of Abortion Funds. And if you buy a bottle of one of the three featured brands, Madre will donate 10% of those sales, too.
Cost: $45

@vanillabeansanddaydreams
@vanillabeansanddaydreams
@vanillabeansanddaydreams

Bakers Against Racism: Bake Sale For Reproductive Justice

Saturday, July 17
These Hands Makers Collective, Culver City
Launched during April 2020 as a pop-up, Bakers Against Racism is a social community “connecting bakers and creatives all across the globe to fight against racism in all of its forms.” On Saturday, July 17 from 11 am to 3 pm, they’re firing up their ovens to raise money and awareness for reproductive justice, with all sorts of treats and desserts available for sale, including cookies, pies, cakes, pastries, traditional Southern desserts, gluten-free and vegan options, and more. All proceeds will be donated to the National Network of Abortion Funds. Bakers who are interested in joining the sale can reach out to LA lead @winterfatebakes on Instagram.
Cost: Free to participate, baked goods vary.

Photo by Jenny Caloca, courtesy of Vinovere
Photo by Jenny Caloca, courtesy of Vinovere
Photo by Jenny Caloca, courtesy of Vinovere

Taste natural, women-made wines with Vinovore

Saturday, July 23
Virtual tasting
Woman- and LGBTQ-owned Vinovore stocks predominantly small-batch, natural, and woman-produced labels in its Virgil Village and Eagle Rock wine shops. On Saturday, July 23 at 5 pm, they’ll host a WINEsplaining event over Zoom, which includes two bottles of natural, women-made wine that attendees can enjoy as they discuss tasting notes with owner Coly Den Haan. All proceeds will be donated to The National Network of Abortion Funds. Register online and wines will be ready for pick-up, shipping, or delivery the week before the tasting, with the Zoom link sent the day before.
Cost: $75

Join a community bake sale for reproductive rights

Saturday, July 23
The Oinkster, Eagle Rock
Over in East LA, chef Andre Guerrero is opening up the patio to local bakers for a massive community bake sale, with proceeds benefiting Planned Parenthood, Plan C Pills, and Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project. And since you’re there, you might as well grab a stacked Frito Pie burger, a house-cured Pastrami Sandwich, or some Chili Fries. For more info and to participate, reach out to chef Kristi Descher on Instagram.
Cost: Free to participate, baked goods vary.

Photo courtesy of Botanica
Photo courtesy of Botanica
Photo courtesy of Botanica

Snag a cute tee from Botanica

Ongoing
Purchase online
Women-owned restaurant and market Botanica is selling their five-year anniversary tee that’s made in collaboration by LA’s Lamero Studio. The shirt features a “vegetables in space” design created by bar manager and artist, Ryan Halie Gossett. All profits from the shirts benefit the National Network of Abortion Funds.
Cost: $45

Photo courtesy of Helen's Wines x The Goods Mart
Photo courtesy of Helen’s Wines x The Goods Mart
Photo courtesy of Helen’s Wines x The Goods Mart

Order a summer snack box filled with women-owned treats

Ongoing
Purchase online
Another one of our favourite women-owned natural wine shops in LA, Helen’s Wines teamed up with NYC’s The Goods Mart for a summer snack box featuring female-founded brands, including Azziah’s Herbal Green Popcorn, Magic Dates Salted Walnut Brownie, Moonshot Sourdough Crackers, and a bottle of natural ros√© from women producers, chosen by founder Helen Johannesen and her team, and rotating with each box. Even better, 50% of proceeds from the box will be donated to the Women’s Reproductive Right’s Assistance Project, the largest national, independent, nonprofit abortion fund providing urgently-needed financial assistance to individuals seeking abortion services or emergency contraception nationwide.
Cost: $75

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Danielle Dorsey is the West Coast Editor at Thrillist.

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