Zait & Zataar, Little Arabia's busiest little restaurant and bakery, is back! Much of the place burned down in a fire last August. Since then, the faithful have been deprived of Zait & Zataar's tantalizing Saj wraps, Z bowls, and brick oven bakery goodies. But there is finally reason to rejoice--the Lebanese eatery has risen from the ashes and hosted a soft re-opening a week-and-half ago.
The timing couldn't be any better, as west Anaheim is suffering a case of the food blues. Not only did the city's planning commission clear the way Monday evening for a McDonald's to be built atop a bulldozed El Patio Drive In, but Papa's Fish & Soul Food also shuttered quietly into the hole-in-the-wall hereafter.
There was never any question that Zait & Zataar would open its doors once more. "Hell no, not for this place!" says restaurant owner Bassem Khanafer. "We rebuilt everything from scratch."
The restaurant looks mostly the same as before when it originally opened in May 2010 with an array of enticing pies near the cash register. The shawarma spittles are up and ready, as are the round dome grills.
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A copper kettle is one of the few decorations that survived the fire, but Khanafer and crew put time, effort and their own money in redecorating the restaurant with wares from his native Lebanon. There is one new addition: sweets! A new display case shows off pistachio and cashew maamouls that are all lined up.
So, too, are customers since Zait & Zataar finally came back in mid-January. "It's been great," Khanafer says. "We're happy to see everybody back and we're here to serve our food anytime!"
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2