The acclaimed chefs-owners of Madcapra and Kismet, Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson were at the forefront of the New York-to-Los Angeles culinary movement that continues to grow. Besides the fact that Sara and Sarah are two amazing powerhouses on the L.A. food scene - they were named the 2017 Chefs of the Year by Eater - we found out their favorite neighborhoods are Echo Park and East Hollywood, and that they’re Sci-Fi fans (i.e. The Fifth Element, Back to the Future).
Why did you choose Los Angeles to open your restaurants?
Sara Kramer: I had been in New York all my life and wanted a change. Opening a restaurant without investors in San Francisco or New York is cost prohibitive, so we started small. There’s an energy here, the food scene is growing – we’re in the midst of an explosion! Our Mediterranean focus is similar to my New York restaurant and a familiar style of cooking for me - my mother is half Israeli, so I grew up with the food and flavors. There’s such a huge Middle Eastern community in L.A., and it’s a good time to play with new flavors.
Sarah Hymanson: We wanted to be bold. We wanted to start something on our own. We found L.A. to be welcoming and supportive of new ideas. It’s a really interesting time to be in Los Angeles. There’s a lot of people exploring our style of food here and L.A. has a similar climate that’s conducive to Mediterranean cuisine. But honestly, I never would’ve considered L.A. until I discovered its diversity. It’s actually really urban and there’s so many communities here, not what you usually hear about outside of the city.
Where do you eat on your days off?
SK: I spend a lot of time at Cosa Buona, but of course [business partners] Jon & Vinny’s and Petit Trois.
SH: Asian food! Hunan in the San Gabriel Valley or Thai in East Hollywood, and then Pine & Crane, or Alimento.
Where do you take people when they come to visit?
SK: I love to go on hikes, especially in Elysian Park and Griffith Park is a close drive.
SH: Whew, we spend so much time inside the restaurants, but I really like to see movies ... and [go] skating at the Moonlight Roller Rink!
What is your “only in L.A.” moment?
SK: It’s the experience of having fruit trees in my backyard, and being able to invite people over for an impromptu BBQ.
SH: I love the Hollywood Farmers Market. People gather there and we see everyone we know. It’s a great place to catch up with everyone.
Sara and Sarah previously found success with Glasserie in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Their first L.A. restaurant is Madcapra, a vegetable-focused stall that opened in May 2015 at Downtown L.A.’s historic Grand Central Market. Look for the neon green “FALAFEL” sign, take a seat at the marble counter, and nosh on the popular falafel squares, made with garbanzo and fava beans, coriander, onion and garlic, all fried in non-GMO canola oil. Their house-baked flatbread is a blend of whole wheat and organic flour and falls somewhere between laffa and gyro wraps on the bread spectrum. Order falafel “red” and your sandwich comes topped with tomato, cabbage, pickles, tahini and basil. “Green” falafel combines pickled cauliflower, shaved fennel, tangy labneh, cilantro and a mountain of greens. Squeeze bottles of zhoug (spicy red or green) are based on a time-tested Israeli recipe.
317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles 90013
In January 2017, the duo opened Kismet in partnership with restaurateurs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Jon & Vinny’s, Animal, Son of a Gun, Trois Familia, etc.). Located in Los Feliz near the Hollywood-Sunset Boulevard intersection, this casual all-day restaurant features Middle Eastern meets modern California cuisine. The narrow, minimalist space is bright and inviting, with two rows of blonde wood banquettes, low bar stools, and a semi-open kitchen. The daytime menu includes baked goods (by Chef Meadow Ramsey from nearby Sqrl), salads, toasts, granola, shakshuka, savory pies and tarts. Snacktime from 3 to 5 p.m. is a pseudo-happy hour with beer, wine and lighter fare. Dinner brings it all together with heartier dishes. "Go Big" with the Rabbit for Two feast, which includes flaky bread, greens, pickles, tahini and labneh.
4648 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles 90027