Six days a week, hungry and curious Angelenos from all walks of life arrive at a small takeout window in a crowded mini-mall and wait for their turn to order bourekas, the hottest pastry since Bubbe’s rugelach. The restaurant, helpfully stylized as Bo.re.kas Sephardic Pastries to help English speakers pronounce the name, opened during the pandemic in September, 2022 in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Since then, the small crew has been serving kosher-certified, Turkish-style bourekas — with a twist — to the clamoring masses.
Even with a quick turnover, the long lines encourage the clever among us to order and pay ahead by phone, but the socially inclined show up just before opening at 9 a.m. to get their food hot from the oven, before they sell out. And they do sell out. Every day.
“We are very busy with so many customers,” says Gal Wizman, who co-owns the spot with her husband, Uzi, as the line snakes out toward the street.
Bourekas, for the uninitiated, are a popular Israeli savory pastry with roots in Sephardic cuisine from North Africa and the Middle East. They’re typically made of buttered (or oiled) layers of thin phyllo or brik pastry wrapped in a variety of shapes around an assortment of fillings, that are then baked. They’re the ultimate snack, meal or appetizer for anyone who wants a convenient, on-the-go bite of deliciousness.
What makes this spot unique is that the dough is a cross between phyllo and a croissant, made rich with buttered layers. Moreover, in addition to traditional fillings, the Wizmans have introduced contemporary flavors like brown butter and truffle, which you’d never find in bourekas outside LA. The combination is a hit with the locals.
“If you live anywhere near this place, you should be in line,” a young Israeli woman standing with friends told me, as we waited in line at 8:55 a.m. on a recent Tuesday morning.
The menu at this hotspot is short and easy to navigate. The bourekas come with your choice of four fillings: funghi-onion-truffle (earthy and decadent); from-scratch ricotta cheese and za’atar (pillowy, herbaceous and according to Wizman, the “most popular variety”); potato and brown butter (rich and hearty); and feta-spinach (classic, satisfying). The delicate, crispy — and enormous — stuffed pastries are baked in long, fat cylinders, then expertly sliced with a rocking mezzaluna knife into five to six large pieces (one pastry easily serves at least two people). They’re served in a convenient cardboard pizza box with complimentary additions, including jammy, hard-boiled eggs (a trendy take on the traditional slow-cooked eggs), a fiery homemade red zhug, fresh grated tomato dip and wildly chopped Israeli pickles. Each variety will run you $12. To wash it all down, they offer a humble cup of Nescafe, Turkish coffee or an assortment of sodas.
As a sweet bonus, there’s a secret menu item: Borekas Pinukim (pinuk means “a treat” in Hebrew). It is a treat indeed: A boureka of your choice split down the middle and packed with eggs, tomato slices and pickles, then topped with yogurt, tahini and za’atar. It’s so large that, on first glance, it almost resembles a breakfast burrito — but it’s so much more satisfying, thanks to that incredible flaky crust.
The bourekas are tasty when eaten on-site at room temperature, sitting on plastic milk crates at one of the few low tables. Or they can be reheated at home, if you have the patience to wait that long to indulge.
Uzi and Gal Wizman are no strangers to the local food scene. When Uzi moved to LA from Israel, he began his culinary career at the acclaimed Japanese seafood restaurant Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills. The couple opened Bourekas Sephardic Pastries in the same mini-mall as their already popular kosher burger spot PSY Street Kitchen, which boasts an outstanding burger on their entirely unique black pretzel bun, and a schnitzel that packs in all the flavor and crunch you can ask for.
The Wizmans know what they’re doing, and the success of their latest venture, drawing in Jews and non-Jews from all over LA, is no surprise. A big, tasty meal at a reasonable price appeals to everyone — plus, Angelenos will always line up for the hot twist on a good thing, even when it’s really been around for a long time.
If you know you know, and now you know.