When Lebanese immigrants began arriving in Mexico in the late 1800s, they brought with them a great gift—shawarma. In Mexico, pork supplanted lamb, tortillas replaced pitas, and the popular dish eventually became known as al pastor.
Since 2017, brothers Ignacio and Felipe Santiago have been offering their twist on this cultural exchange at Lebanese/Oaxacan restaurant X’Tiosu Kitchen. Raised in a small Oaxaca town, the brothers spoke only Zapotec when they came to the U.S., but they went on to work as cooks at a popular Lebanese restaurant.
At X’Tiosu (SH-tee-oh-soo), they show off their chops with creamy hummus, mouth-puckeringly tart baba ghanoush, and perfect falafel balls. The culinary synthesis reaches its peak in their tabbouli, which replaces the bulgur with nopales, and their chorizo, which is grilled kebab-style.
The unremarkable storefront hides a vertical spit stacked with juicy, spiced chicken shawarma. It makes an excellent taco heaped with house-made “arabesque salsa,” a combo of salsa verde and tahini finished with pickled turnip.
Sides, $5.25–$9.25; entrées, $12–18; desserts, $2.50.
Closed Mondays. 923 Forest Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033. (323) 526-8844.