Eating healthy should not be stressful and overly complicated. Urban Garden, a Lebanese kitchen located on Beverly Boulevard, strikes an ideal balance between food that is satisfying, flavorful and nutritious. The kitchen uses local and sustainable produce and meats to create modern iterations of traditional Middle Eastern cuisine.
These high-quality products transform seemingly simple recipes into standout dishes.
Take hummus, for example. Because this classic chickpea spread contains just a handful of ingredients, it is difficult to distinguish a superb version from a mediocre one. Urban Garden offers a hummus bar, with flavors such as sundried tomato and basil and eggplant, along with a variety of toppings including warm feta cheese and fried cauliflower.
The “old-fashioned way” hummus, simply drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with toasted cumin and paprika, possessed a silky smooth texture, so delicate that it nearly melted on my tongue. The aromatic spices and fruity olive oil are not decorative extras, but exceptional in and of themselves. Each hummus comes with a side of house-made lavash, a thin, paper-like bread, ideal for dipping.
Urban Garden offers other Middle Eastern staples, such as tabbouleh, a salad consisting of finely minced parsley, diced tomatoes, onions and bulgur. As with all the menu items, the tabbouleh was fresh and light, and slightly tart from the lemony dressing.
For its Chicken Shawarma wrap, the kitchen sources free-range chickens from a farm with high animal welfare standards. The chicken is marinated, sliced thin and cooked on a rotating spit for several hours. This method yields tender, juicy meat, which is then layered with lettuce, tomato and onions, doused with a creamy tahini sauce and wrapped in lavash.
The sandwich would have been sublime if not for the overpowering flavor of red onions and garlic. Luckily, the house-made rose water lemonade helps neutralize the palate. Subtly sweet, the smooth, floral rose water complemented the lemons’ acidity.
In addition to quick, light fare, Urban Garden offers a pleasant ambience and comfortable indoor and outdoor seating.
Natural light pours into the quaint space, which is extremely clean and well-organized. The open kitchen invites customers to watch their food being made, emphasizing Urban Garden’s pride in its products and the integrity with which the dishes are prepared.
A vibrantly colored mural enlivens one wall of the kitchen. The mural contains iconic images from Lebanese magazines, along with a spray-painted portrait of the mother of Urban Garden’s owner.
Friendly, efficient service further enhances the experience. The cashier patiently answered any questions about the menu and even shared additional information about the restaurant’s history and its ethos towards cooking. Handouts scattered on each table details where Urban Garden sources its products, satisfying the most serious locavores.
Urban Garden is located at 7563 Beverly Blvd. Open daily, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.