Inside the ornate hookah lounge at Alexandria Mediterranean Restaurant, a foursome is smoking flavored tobacco from a water pipe. Seductive music blares onto the sidewalk, and an attractive young woman begins her exotic nightly ritual — belly dancing. It’s not an unusual sight on Hollywood Boulevard. Just down the street, at Taverna Yiamas, patrons are sharing hookahs and hummus as a belly dancer swirls, and around the corner, at Exotic Bites on Harrison Street, there’s a similar scene. All three places are owned by Mamdouh “Manny” Ebaid and his wife, Maria, who have been running restaurants in Hollywood for nearly a decade. Alexandria’s Mediterranean menu makes stops in the Middle East, Greece, Italy and beyond, with paella as well as pasta, brick-oven pizza and porterhouse steak.
Ambience: Two-month-old Alexandria is the most ambitious, named for Ebaid’s Egyptian birthplace. It’s spacious, with seating for 209 inside and another 44 outside. It stays open well past midnight, and you’ll even find a hookah happy-hour menu. (How about grape tobacco with your Greek burger?) Unlike Ebaid’s other restaurants, Alexandria is white-tablecloth, with a full bar, a stage and an elaborate decor with enough gold accents to make Cleopatra jealous. It should be the jewel of the trio, but it seems to be off to a slow start, with only a few tables occupied on our visits.
- Lemony-bright hummus with pita triangles
- Falafel fritters spiked with cumin, cilantro and garlic, fried to a dark brown crunch, drizzled with tahini sauce and served with a jalapeño harrah hot sauce
- Football-shaped kibbe – ground meat and cracked wheat form a crunchy crust filled with more ground beef, sautéed onions and pine nuts
- A generous Greek octopus appetizer list boiled in red wine and lemon juice, then grilled and served over greens
- Starters of tabbouleh, saganaki (flaming cheese) and shrimp cocktail
- Beef shawarma – tender meat spiked with onions, garlic, cumin and lemon juice
- Classics desserts like baklava & tiramisu
- Konafa – light layers of shredded phyllo dough and a sweet but not cloying apricot filling
What Didn’t Work
- Well seasoned, but chewy charbroiled beef kebabs, skewered with onions and peppers
- Lamb chops with an odd taste
- Braised lamb shank, fragrant with nutmeg and cloves but overwhelmed by a tomato-based sauce
- Spotty servie