A street redolent of saffron, kabobs, and rose water offers a window into Iranian culture 

Westwood Boulevard between Wilshire and Olympic is the commercial heart of the city’s Iranian community, which makes up the largest concentration of Persians  outside Iran. Many came in the late ’70s after the fall of the U.S.-backed shah. They opened stores and restaurants that blended into the village-y look of Westwood even as their tastes in residential architecture changed the face of West L.A. Today shoppers negotiate the heavy traffic and encroaching chains for reminders of home that include some of the area’s best Persian cuisine.



Photographs by Mindee Choi

1.  Westwood Tobacco
ghalyans»1938 Westwood Blvd., 310-470-2810


2. Attari Sandwiches
Diners linger on the shady patio. Inside, the place buzzes as customers tuck into sandwiches like olivieh (chicken salad) and kotlet (seasoned beef patty) as well as ash-e-joe (hearty barley-vegetable soup) and silky yogurt dips. Opened in 1978 as a grocery store, Attari is believed to be the first Iranian-owned venture on the street. » 1388 Westwood Blvd., Ste. 103, 310-441-5488.

3. Super Sun Market
A cheerful red-and-white-striped awning greets visitors to this grocery, which carries fresh produce (signs are in Persian and English), deli items, and ingredients used in Persian cooking such as dried favas, split peas, and orange blossom water. A nuts and dried fruits section near the entrance has an array of pistachios, walnuts, raisins, and roasted chickpeas. Dried figs and sour plums are imported from Iran. » 1922 Westwood Blvd., 310-474-2436.


Photographs by Mindee Choi

4. Saffron & Rose Ice Cream
The flavors at this no-frills shop—poppy seed, carrot, cucumber—are a refreshing alternative to the usual over-the-top combinations. We love the rose water-saffron-pistachio and the faloodeh, made of thin noodles and rose water. » 1387 Westwood Blvd., 310-477-5533.

5. The Thread Bar
Bubble-gum-pink walls, pulsing music, and free Wi-Fi make this salon chic and modern, although the threading treatment offered is an old-fashioned technique that’s popular in India and Iran. Using cotton thread, Aida Radfar and her staff shape eyebrows and pluck unwanted facial hair in minutes. » 1321 Westwood Blvd., Ste. 201, 310-444-9494.

6. Shamshiri Grill
The glass-enclosed kitchen turns out tasty shawarmas (wraps) and koobideh (ground meat) dishes, which are served in an elegant dining room. Vegetarians might opt for the adas polo, a classic mixture of lentils, rice, raisins, dates, and currants. For a sweet finish, try the honey-laden baklava with a glass of hot tea and sugar cubes. » 1712 Westwood Blvd., 310-474-1410.

7. Ketab Corporation
Books on art, history, and psychology, including Ketab’s self-published titles, are nearly all in Persian. Head to the CD and DVD room for sitars, ouds, and the films of director Abbas Kiarostami. » 1419 Westwood Blvd., 310-477-7477 . 

8. Canary Restaurant
The setting—faux columns, draped doorways—has the feel of a Scheher-azade tale, and the huge portions draw late-night crowds who sup on specialties like kabobs and dizi, a lamb spread served on flatbread. » 1942 Westwood Blvd., 310-470-1312. 


Photographs by Mindee Choi

9. Damoka
Third-generation rug dealer Alex Helmi outfits homes with elaborate Persian pieces, some dating from the 18th century, and does expert appraisals and repairs. His newly remodeled 9,000-square-foot showroom is bright and airy and filled with examples of the fine silk handiwork that can take years to complete. Coveted by collectors, the rugs go for a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars. » 1424 Westwood Blvd., 310-475-7900.