When people think of Anaheim, Disneyland frequently comes to mind first, but Little Arabia is thriving just over two miles from one of California’s biggest tourist draws. Palestinean, Syrian, Egyptian, and Lebanese are four of the main people groups driving development and culture in the area, though immigrants and students from Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia have also made an impact. Rashad Al-Dabbagh, the Arab American Civic Council’s founder and executive director, is working to have Anaheim City Council officially designate Little Arabia, which would inevitably raise awareness and acknowledge the contributions from these residents and business owners. Dozens of businesses line the 2.6-mile stretch of Brookhurst Street between Crescent Avenue and Katella Avenue, the unofficial brackets for this neighborhood, though some satellite bakeries and restaurants also operate on perpendicular streets like Cerritos Avenue and Ball Road, each worth exploring.
Foodwise, Mohamed Sammy Khouraki and wife Nora kickstarted the neighborhood with their market, originally called Cerritos Produce, which debuted on Cerritos Avenue in 1983 to supply immigrants with foods from home. The business relocated and rebranded and has operated as Altayebat on Brookhurst Street since 1988.
Al-Quds Restaurant was likely the first Arab restaurant to debut in the community, but closed over 20 years ago. Sahara Falafel and Kareem’s Falafel are the oldest existing restaurants in the area, dating to 1995 and 1996. Remarkably, the restaurant scene not only remained intact during the pandemic — aside from beloved pan-Arab restaurant Olive Tree, which sadly closed — but Little Arabia has actually seen increased options for restaurants and trucks like Shawarma Loca and California Shawarma, some of which have already put down roots.
LA already has a robust Middle Eastern food scene, but Little Arabia still offers plenty of dishes that aren’t available in diverse hubs like the San Fernando Valley, Glendale, and Westwood. Learn about 10 restaurants that are a boon to locals and worth the drive for Angelenos (even with spiking gas prices). Before or after your next trip to Disneyland, consider substituting a Disney corn dog and Dole Whip for koshari or knafeh. Note: some restaurants will offer buffets, called Iftar, to break fast during Ramadan.
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.Read More