Dune - Modern Middle Eastern in Atwater

Dune Kitchen is a small space without a sign. It’s in the south stretch of Atwater Village, on the west side of Glendale Boulevard near Bon Vivant, Baracoa and Tacos Villa Corona.

The menu’s written on the wall and you order at the counter. There are about eight stools inside, and five or six tables outside on the sidewalk. And on a nice day or evening, it’s delightful to sit outside.

Basically, there are sandwiches, plates and toasts. The plates are hummus, hummus and tabouleh, hummus and lamb, etc. The sandwiches have interesting combinations of ingredients, as do the toasts. Prices are very reasonable. Our check was $21 for two.

Above is the lamb sandwich. The bread has a nice firm body, which serves to keep the whole thing together. The lamb was not sliced like you might get in wraps from other Middle Eastern and Israeli restaurants. Rather, this was ground meat, seasoned then fire grilled. It had a delicious crust, but wasn’t dry at all. And the charring of the outside served to bring out the seasoning quite nicely. The sauces that covered the meat, together with the greens served as a counterweight to the spices in the meat. This was a good sandwich.

Above is the hummus and tabouleh plate. It comes with pickled red onions, a red cabbage salad, diced turnip pickles (like you get in any middle eastern place), the hummus with a nice seasoned chutney in the middle, and a delicious tabouleh that included quinoa. I had never had it with the quinoa, and this gave it a certain airy lightness. It was a very nice interpretation of the traditional dish. Like the sandwich, the bread was firmer than pita, and made a very good scoop for the hummus and tabouli.

On the counter were two sauces (three if you include a bottle of Crystal hot sauce). One was a thick shredded green chile sauce which had a nuance of Hatch chile, but I don’t think it was. The other was a mixture various spices which I thought included cumin, turmeric and others. It had an Indian profile. Both sauces were delicious on everything.

All in all, this was a very good interpretation and update to the traditional Middle Eastern cuisine. It was a flavor bomb compared to the traditional places, but the old flavors and textures are still there.

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Dune is my go-to spot for falafel. I just live for that grilled, overstuffed flatbread filled with thin shreds of fried potato, crisp cabbage, herbs, and falafel.

By the way, the yellow condiment is mango chutney.

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That’s… beautiful.

Dune is great, love their falafel. The green “hot sauce” is schug, a Yemenite chili paste that’s now very popular in Israel. The other one is amba, Iraqi pickled mango chutney, also very popular in Israel.

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Tried Dune Venice the other day and I think it’s my favorite falafel in LA. We ordered a falafel sandwich, lamb sandwich, and side of hummus.

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The lamb was very good – juicy and flavorful. But the falafel … the falafel was on another level. Crisp and herby, with a schmear of their excellent hummus, fresh and pickled veggies, and potato sticks. I would categorize it as Israeli-style and rank it right up there with places like Ta-eem.

What elevates Dune is, for lack of a better term, the artistry. There is a beauty and craftmanship to the food that transcends its competitors. To analogize to two of my favorite NY places, Dune is Azuri Cafe while Ta-eem is Olympic Pita.

You see this artistry in not just the sandwiches but the condiments. The zhug and amba are the best I’ve ever tasted. If they aren’t made in-house, I’d like to know so I can buy a couple of bottles.

The Venice location is located inside the old Dudley Market space. It’s super chill and tranquil. I took my food to go but will definitely eat in next time. I just hope they attract enough traffic to pay the bills.

Highly, highly recommended.

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So would we classify this joint as Israeli? Quite possibly the best falafel I’ve ever had. Killer location too - triple bang with Proof and Wanderlust

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I would. The falafel, hummus, and salads all seem Israeli-ish to me. Also the excellent amba and zhug. One thing that isn’t is the pita – thinner and less fluffy than you usually find at Israeli places.