Every meal at Raffi’s Place begins with sabzi, or “something green”—sprigs of basil, chopped parsley and white onions, and whole radishes served on a plate, along with pats of butter and a basket of unleavened lavash. When pulled together, these aromatics and herbs make for a uniquely Persian appetizer.
The sabzi to start, as well as the bougainvillea-shaded dining room, have been a part of the Raffi’s experience since 1993, when Rafik Bakijan and his wife, Gohar, opened the restaurant to share treasured family recipes with Los Angeles’ burgeoning Middle Eastern community.
For an appetizer, The Astronomer and I shared an order of tadig, a prized crispy rice crust, served with ghormesabzi (stewed greens with beef, kidney beans, and dehydrated limes) and gheimeh bademjan (stewed split peas and eggplant). The rice was a textural powerhouse, while the duo of stews were soulful and hearty.
The heart of the menu is the kabobs. Raffi’s makes over a dozen kinds using beef, chicken, fish, and lamb, including soltani (filet mignon and ground beef), barg (thinly sliced filet mignon), shish (marinated chunks of filet mignon), and most fabulous of all, koobideh (ground beef).
The generously portioned koobideh arrived caramelized and charred to perfection on a bed of out-of-this-world fluffy basmati rice with grilled tomatoes and Anaheim peppers. Even though I didn’t grow up eating these flavors or preparations, this simple and satisfying platter comforted me in a way that only home cooking usually does.
The “Yogurt and Mousir,” a combination of grated shallots with rich yogurt, paired amazingly with the rice and meat. It was so unexpectedly delicious that I couldn’t help but eat it by the spoonful.
I’ve returned to Raffi’s several times since this visit, trying everything from fish to chicken to the house-special Persian rice preparations, and I’ve never walked away anything less than satisfied with my experience. This place is really somethin’.
211 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
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