Tanor Fresh Mediterranean Grill Is Persian for the People

Amir, one of the owners of Tanor Fresh Mediterranean Grill in Anaheim, usually stands outside his tiny restaurant, warmly greeting customers as they walk in. It's the polite thing to do, of course, but Amir is also trying to figure out who exactly he's going to feed for the next half an hour at these crossroads. Is it going to be one of the thousands of tourists fleeing Disneyland's overpriced food? Conventioneers looking for a respite from the Anaheim Convention Center's stale grub? Motel families looking for a cheap, affordable meal? Taxi and Uber drivers who congregate in Tanor's parking lot, waiting for a call? Actual Persians?

Doesn't matter—Amir serves them all. Tanor's setup ensures that all of these disparate tribes flock here and get what they're looking for. It's open from 7 in the morning until midnight, attracting the dawn shift and Disnerds after the park closes. Most of the food is in buffet trays, the easier for the uninitiated to quickly grasp the intricacies of Persian food. Breakfast brings burritos, hot pockets, pancakes, even omelets, with a drink case keeping water, orange juice and sodas for people who'd rather have Subway next door. And then we get to the actual Persian meals: glorious, fluffy saffron rice; crunchy tabbouleh; Greek-style falafels; shawarma shavings; and juicy koobideh Americanized as a “skewer plate.” And if you really get to know Amir? He'll prepare for you his take on tahdig, the crisped-rice Persian classic reinterpreted with pita bread that's the best bruschetta of your life.

Despite the working-class environs, Amir never tries to dumb down his food. He'll patiently explain the difference between hummus and baba ghanoush to kids in frayed Mickey Mouse pajamas in one breath, then exclaim “Nooshe jan!” (roughly “Bon appetit!”) to fellow Farsi speakers. And while there's no mast-o-musir (the more-mainstream tzatziki accompanies all meals), Tanor attracts enough Persians to assure any authentistas that here's the real thing. One wonders at the marvels Amir and his crew could create at a proper place . . . but in the meanwhile, Amir will be waiting outside his door for ustedes.

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