Middle Eastern culinary adventures in Montebello

With the new arrival of Zankou Chicken in my city on the south western edge of the San Gabriel Valley – Montebello – I thought I would start a new culinary adventure in my own town.

Zankou just adds to the various Middle-Eastern cuisine offered in the city, of which many focus on chicken.

Off the top of my head I can think of Ani’s Chicken right across from the Mart on Montebello Blvd.

On a recent Tuesday, with my chef taking a night off, (my boyfriend), we headed out to one of his favorite places to grab a Middle-Eastern meal, Garden Grill.

Garden Grill, competing with Subway and Pizza Hut on the same corner of Beverly Blvd. and Maple St., is a little food stop which is also a small market selling food items like Nutella and pasta to home decorations.

I must admit even though I’ve had kabobs and hummus for years, I’m still a little new to the variety of Middle Eastern offerings. I recently tried beef shawama for lunch at a new spot in Irwindale (keep an eye out for a future review), and I’ve only tried a gyro once.

The menu at the Grill was pretty easy to figure out for a newby like me, and there were lots of photos to help, with everything from sandwiches, salads and combination plates.

I had to try one of the special combos named after streets of Montebello, just because I’m a native. There was the Maple combo, Beverly combo, Montebello and Poplar combos.

I went for the Beverly which came with a piece of grilled chicken, beef shawarma (thinly sliced pieces of beef), and kafta, a ground beef patty mixed with parsley, onions and spices.

The combo plate comes with rice, salad, hummus and a fresh pita bread and a small soda for $6.99. My boyfriend went for the Maple combo with a beef kabob, chicken and kafta for $7.99.

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Of course I started with the salad and hummus. When I first tried hummus years ago I couldn’t imagine how it could be messed up  because of it’s simple ingredients, but I have had some that was pretty bad and not fresh.

Garden Grill’s hummus was good and fresh especially with the warm pita bread. The salad dressing was tasty as well, though I’m not sure what it was exactly, It tasted a little like vinaigrette.

I tried the shawarma first since I felt I could now compare it witht he other I tried recently. I liked that it was thinly shaved but not too dry. It was a little on the salty side for me but I don’t like much salt at all.

The chicken was nice and moist and grilled with the right seasoning. The spices in the kafta were tasty like meatballs even though it looked like a hamburger patty. The rice was not dry either and there was some cooked noodles thrown in the mix which was a nice surprise.

All in all, the chicken was my favorite part of the combo. I also loved that they threw a pepperoncini in there, for those like me who liked to add a little kick to their meal.

I was pretty full and didn’t even finish the entire combo but it served for nice leftovers the next day. 

Next time I’ll try one of the kabob plates or a sandwich, which looks like a pita wrap. And of course some baklava – I love baklava!

Garden Grill is at 1501 W. Beverly Blvd., Montebello. Open from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., 7 days/week. Phone number is (323) 888-2054.

GOT ANY OTHER SUGGESTIONS FOR MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD IN MONTEBELLO? PLEASE SEND THEM.