C California Style

The new 45-seat restaurant designed by JEFF GUGA. PHOTO: Joshua White.

Why Kismet Is L.A.’s Hottest Dinner Spot

by C California Style

The two chefs behind Madcapra open a fresh take on Middle Eastern food in Los Feliz

This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of C Magazine.

Chefs SARA KRAMER (left) and SARAH HYMANSON of KISMET. PHOTO: Sam Frost.

Chefs SARA KRAMER (left) and SARAH HYMANSON of KISMET. PHOTO: Sam Frost.

Sarah Hymanson and Sara Kramer relocated to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in the summer of 2014, bringing with them a culinary worldview that expanded well beyond New York City.

They got to work, putting their plans for a future L.A. restaurant in motion. A pop-up of their reimagined Middle Eastern–style concept at Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook’s Animal whet the town’s appetite for their falafel shop, Madcapra, which debuted shortly after in 2015 at Downtown L.A.’s Grand Central Market.

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PHOTO: Jake Lindeman.

It also planted the seeds of what eventually would become Kismet, Hymanson and Kramer’s full-service, all-day restaurant that opened in Los Feliz in January. Dotolo and Shook are operational partners in the venture.

“They reminded me a lot of ourselves,” Shook recalls about his early interactions with the chefs. “I felt like they had a different and strong opinion about restaurant culture.”

Hymanson and Kramer got people swooning over their falafel, creative salads and accompaniments such as the -sumac-beet soda. And with the added confidence of their newfound West Coast success, Kramer, who grew up in New York, and Hymanson, a Chicago native, laid down the groundwork for Kismet, honing skills they acquired at Blue Hill and in other highly respected New York City-area kitchens. “Everyone was coming out of the woodwork” to help and support them, Hymanson says; Dotolo and Shook were among those eager and willing.

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Kismet’s inviting brick facade. PHOTO: Joshua White.

“The scope and the breadth of how ambitious this project is” distinguishes the light-flooded, blond-wood-lined restaurant from its primarily grab-and-go DTLA predecessor, Kramer says. (Jeff Guga, the architect responsible for Jon & Vinny’s on Fairfax, handled design duties.) She and Hymanson serve the shakshuka that reminds Kramer of her Israeli mother’s weekend cooking, and update myriad aspects and traditions associated with Middle Eastern–inspired cuisine: dishes such as their broccoli toast with sectioned seasonal California citrus and crushed pumpkin seeds layered over labneh. “This kind of food really works in this town,” Kramer observes.

A spread of fried cauliflower with caper yogurt, hen of the woods mushrooms and jeweled crispy rice.

A spread of fried cauliflower with caper yogurt, hen of the woods mushrooms and jeweled crispy rice. PHOTO: Sam Frost.

Despite the dishes’ technical complexity,  their execution “just reads as delicious,” Kramer notes. A diner might think “‘this is a great cucumber salad, but I don’t really know why,’” adds Hymanson. Of course, the best always make it look easy. 4648 Hollywood Blvd., L.A., 323-409-0404; kismetlosangeles.com. • JESSICA RITZ

Edited by LESLEY McKENZIE.