If you’ve been walking the streets of Jerusalem like some of us keeping warm laffa bread wrapped around shawarma – the whole sandwich topped with chili sauce – then a meal at the Holy Grill in Los Angeles can take you straight back to Israel.
The Holy Grill is a certified kosher glatt food truck located in a parking lot on 15th Street, in the middle of the clothing district of downtown LA, just north of the 10 Freeway. It’s relatively easy to find a kosher food truck in Los Angeles, but a glatt kosher truck, which comes with more stringent meat requirements, not so much.
The truck specializes in common dishes found in Israel, including Shakshuka, a traditional Israeli breakfast dish made with spicy garlic tomato sauce and two eggs – cracked directly in the sauce – cooked until it’s too easy. In the lunch rush on a recent Friday, men in suits with their sleeves rolled up, ties thrown over one shoulder, used their hands and pita strips to eat the Shakshuka.
âSome of the recipes are from my parents, amazing cooks specializing in Israeli-Moroccan cuisine,â said co-owner Adiel Nahmias, who left Israel for the United States in 2008. âMost of the recipes are mine. It’s a place where I can experiment and let my creativity grow and it was a great opportunity to feel the energy of home.
Nahmias, who bought the truck (the name Holy Grill was inherited) in 2013 along with his partner, Dvir Botach, tries to keep the dishes as close as possible to what you’ll find at a restaurant or stall in Israel. Some of the spices are imported from Israel, as well as the pita bread – which happens to be well chewed and thicker and softer than most. The truck laffa the bread, not the kind of thick bubbly you can find at the Israeli restaurant Hummus Bar and Grill in Tarzana, is more of a lavash and comes from a bakery in the San Fernando Valley called Super Pita.
There’s the shawarma, heavily spiced pieces of chicken with cumin and garlic, served with grilled onions; round beef and lamb patties garnished with cilantro (similar to a Lebanese cafta); and pargiot, a marinated chicken dish made with green onions, paprika, cilantro and a few other secret Nahmias spices.
The hummus, which comes with almost everything on the truck, is creamier and more subtle than some of the grainy versions served in Lebanese restaurants. And you can eat it neat, with a spoon.
You can also order bourikas, pastries stuffed with apples, meat and potatoes, or Nahmias can make you a bourikas sandwich: The thin, flaky pastry is cut in half lengthwise, then stuffed with slices of hard-boiled egg and tomato. Just add hot sauce and garlic mayonnaise, a homemade thin sauce that tastes a bit like a creamy Italian dressing.
In a small seating area next to the truck, there are squeeze bottles of salad dressing conveniently placed every two feet or so on a table, covered with a vinyl tablecloth decorated with product photos and soda bottles. Most people who eat breakfast put the bandage on anything and everything.
Next to the bottles of garlic mayo is a stack of white kippa (brimless bonnets used to cover a person’s head during prayer) and blessings and prayers written in Hebrew on laminated pieces of paper, available for those who wish to say a blessing before a meal.
âBut my goal is to reach clients from all types of backgrounds,â Nahmias said.
You might still be thinking about that trip to Israel as you listen to prayers and eat your shawarma sandwich, but the scuffle for a parking meter across the street will take you straight back to Los Angeles.
The Holy Grill is at its usual location in downtown LA Monday through Friday 10:30 am to 4:30 pm Nahmias and Botach also plan to have a second truck in the Pico-Robertson area in the near future. , which to be open in the evening.
120 E. 15th Street, (213) 444-9681, www.theholygrill770.com.