While Anaheim’s Little Arabia may be a somewhat diminutive collection of restaurants, hookah bars and halal butcher shops, the blink-and-you-miss-it stretch along Brookhurst Street features one of Orange County’s best hidden gems.
In this case, quite literally actually.
Nestled behind an AAMCO station and a beauty salon, Aleppo’s Kitchen offers some of the tastiest middle eastern food in the county.
I visited Aleppo’s on a Thursday night and was immediately struck by the size and ambience of the restaurant, particularly its outside patio. For a moment, you forget you’re in Anaheim.
Its owners, Nidal Hajomar and his wife Suher, opened Aleppo’s in the fall of 2013 after fleeing war torn Syria and beginning a new life in Anaheim. Many of the waiters and staff members at the restaurant are Syrian refugees themselves as well.
As my friend and I approached the restaurant from its private parking lot, we were immediately greeted and given the option to sit outside on the patio or inside. We opted for the latter, as it was a bit chilly outside.
Named after the city in Syria, Aleppo’s interior back wall is host to a large mural of the ancient town while its ceilings are ornamented by wrought-iron chandeliers. Although the inside isn’t massive by any means, I counted at least 40 seats in total as I was waiting for my food. Outside, it appeared to be roughly the same capacity as well.
The menu itself on the other hand is quite large. Appetizer choices range from falafel and hummus, to mutabbal (eggplant dip) and stuffed grape leaves while main course options include nine different variations of Fried Kibbeh ($16; an oval shaped breaded crumb roll stuffed with cooked minced beef or lamb with onion and sautéed pine nuts) chicken or beef shawerma ($15-$16) and shish tawook ($15), a traditional marinated chicken shish kebab marinated with a secret blend. There is also a great selection of kebab plates, all of which fall between $15-$18.
Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter to clarify or explain in more detail other dishes on the menu either (as my friend and I did). Much of the menu options aren’t likely served at a whole lot of other spots in Orange County. Take for example their fermented goat cheese spread or the muhammara, a hot pepper dip that is quite popular back in Syria.
On the suggestion of the waiter, I decided to go with the chicken shawerma plate. After about a 10-minute wait, I was surprised with a bigger than I expected plate of chicken, hummus, rice and a huge portion of fattoush salad. As if that wasn’t already enough, the waiter proceeded to place a basket of several pieces of pita bread and a delicious bowl of garlic dipping sauce on the table as well. Although the menu didn’t state this, apparently every plate is served with pita bread and dipping sauce–an added plus to go along with some already tasty food.
The chicken itself was incredibly flavorful and juicy and was complimented quite well by the delicious salad. Based on my other experiences at middle eastern restaurants and fast food joints, I was expecting a much smaller serving of chicken. However, Aleppo’s serving sizes were perfect in every aspect–from the chicken and rice to the salad and hummus.
While many of the dishes are on the pricier side, the quality, serving size, ambience and service provided at Aleppo’s Kitchen certainly justifies the extra few bucks you’ll have to shell out.
Aleppo’s Kitchen is located at
513 S Brookhurst St
Find them on Facebook.