Borekas in Sherman Oaks Is Selling Savory Pastries to Sell-out Crowds
CategoryEat & Drink
Written byJoshua Lurie
Photographed byShahab G.
The hottest restaurant in Sherman Oaks right now isn’t what you might think. It serves food from a single window and offers only austere seating: a half dozen tiny wood rounds set atop green milk crates. Yet Borekas is indeed the “it” spot, drawing steady crowds for their specialty, a flaky Sephardic pastry that’s popular in the Middle East and surrounding countries. In this case, chef Uzi Wizman and wife, Gal Ben Goya, draw on their Israeli and Turkish heritage to serve a version with uniquely flaky dough that straddles the line between puff pastry and phyllo and crisps, baked in a stone oven that produces up to 500 borekas per day for ravenous regulars.
Borekas offers four different fillings: cultured cheese and za’atar; potato and brown butter; spinach and cheese; and funghi (mushroom), onion and truffle. The cultured cheese and za’atar version is particularly fantastic, featuring savory cow’s milk cheese made from scratch using a 24-hour process that’s bolstered with yogurt, sheep’s milk and secrets. In every case, borekas come with medium-boiled eggs, cooling tomato pulp, house-made pickles, and schug, the fierce Yemeni chili pepper condiment. As I overheard a fellow customer saying on a recent visit to whomever would listen, “This is better than where I normally go in Israel.”
“You eat borekas anytime—when you’re drunk, when you’re hung over, when you wake up in the morning, before or after school, lunch, dinner.”
Gal and Uzi both grew up in Israel. She’s from a small city called Yehud, and he’s from Haifa. Uzi started working in restaurants as a teenager, learning from high-profile chefs like Meir Adoni and by traveling the world. After relocating to LA, Uzi staged for six months at Matsuhisa before delivering homemade sandwiches to offices in Israeli hotbeds like Woodland Hills and Reseda. He earned a reputation for sandwiches with house-made fillings like labneh, cheese and pastrami, and became a partner in the kosher burger eatery Psy in Sherman Oaks. He and Gal later became the sole owners, changing the name to Psy Street Kitchen to reflect expanded offerings. The couple debuted a “garden to table” catering kitchen in the same plaza as Psy during the pandemic before repurposing the space for Borekas in September.
Borekas were a staple for the couple growing up in Israel. “It’s really popular there,” Uzi says. “You eat borekas anytime—when you’re drunk, when you’re hung over, when you wake up in the morning, before or after school, lunch, dinner.”
This past spring, prepping for Borekas’ opening, he and Gal toured Israel and Turkey, sampling borekas at every turn, including at his longtime favorite, Burekas Ha’Agala in Haifa. Back in LA, Uzi tested dough, cheese and fillings for over a month. “The thing that makes our borekas different is that instead of using oil or margarine, like 90% of them would, we use clarified or purified brown butter,” Gal says. “So it’s a deeper, nutty kind of taste.”
Gal’s father taught her to eat borekas with ayran, a salty yogurt drink Uzi makes with honey, lemon and optional mint. “I want to see people dip their borekas in the ayran,” Uzi says. “The boreka is hot and crunchy and ayran is cold, and it’s just supposed to work together.”
Borekas’ window opens at 9 a.m. and closes when they sell out, which on some days can be before noon. (Preordering is recommended.) Gal and Uzi say they’ve been inundated with offers to expand, but aren’t rushing into anything. “I want it to stay high quality and I want to do the right moves,” Uzi says. For now, they’re limiting their borekas brilliance to Sherman Oaks.
Follow on Instagram at @bo.re.kas