In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, it is common to walk down a single street and find a plethora of eateries claiming to have great ethnic food. But I’m asking you to move away from the block that has Chipotle, Domino’s and Taco Bell all in one square, and instead stroll down Brand Boulevard’s ornamented promenade, where a charming example of the American Dream lays: a restaurant called Carousel that caters to the individual looking for more than just a place to eat.

Having started as restaurateurs in Lebanon, owners Rose and Greg Cholakian had previous experience in the business before relocating to the United States in 1984, when they opened a Middle Eastern restaurant, Carousel, in Hollywood. Rose, the Chef de cuisine, is an expert in Lebanese fare, having trained and practiced in Lebanon for several years before moving stateside.

Her transition to working in California was a smooth one, satisfying many appetites for 26 years. Since then, work has been successful enough to open the more elaborate and complete Glendale location in 1998, which is managed by her son, Mike Cholakian.

If you’re a fan of the family business model, Carousel is the destination for you. However, this is more than just your mom and pop shop; the attention to detail is staggering. The Carousel in Glendale serves festively decorated dishes, and the servers are also festively decorated.

The eatery offers a full dining experience that allows the customer to be immersed in Middle Eastern culture. Where rich meets rustic, its interior welcomes travelers on food journeys from far lands to rest and enjoy a fresh meal.

While I wish I could have sampled more food, I can only sing praises about what I did taste. The 4Way Hammos is Carousel’s own take on traditional mezzas. Never have I tried hammos that was pink, red or green, but I am regretful that I waited so long. My personal favorite of the 4Way Hammos was the red one, made with roasted red peppers and tomatoes.

After sampling several other options, one item I would pass on is the falafel. It was nicely presented, shaped into miniature donuts sprinkled with sesame seeds, yet there were so many other bite-worthy appetizers to try. My favorite was the pressed pita wraps cut and arranged into their own little work of art.

Although famous for dinner, Carousel just recently launched their “Happiest Hours” schedule, Tuesday through Friday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., when there are specials on drinks and food. It’s the perfect place to stop by after class or work to unwind before continuing with the mundane – your one chance to escape to the Middle East for a few hours, where all the day’s troubles could be topped with tabbouleh and alleviated with Jalleb.

Weekend entertainment at Carousel consists of a special menu, divine belly dance performances by Jillina’s Sahlala Dance Ensemble and live bands with different singers throughout the night. The singers and musicians are of Middle Eastern descent and perform both international and Arabic songs. The belly dancers are of various nationalities, yet after training with the best belly dance choreographer in the L.A. area, owner Mike says, “They transform into great Middle Eastern dance performers.”

The locals know that the weekends can get crowded, and as some of you might be familiar with how awful parking on Brand Boulevard is, Carousel takes that into consideration and offers valet parking while you dine. However, if you want to make the hunt for that perfect parking spot, go for it, but sometimes the stress of it is not worth the couple of dollars you will have to cough up.

Now that you’re equipped with knowledge of this Lebanese hot spot, fellas, impress a new date with what good taste in entertainment you have, and ladies, bring your girls and relish your genius in outing ideas. With a menu that offers vegetarian, seafood, family style and so much more, there really is no excuse not to try this Middle Eastern eatery. Carousel is the perfect all-in-one venue to hang out with friends, meet with co-workers or even to enjoy time alone with your thoughts and appetite.



For more information, call (818) 246-7775 or visit carouselrestaurant.com.