Chicken Tarna: an LA Favorite from Zankou Chicken

Zankou Chicken is one of the most well known restaurants in Los Angeles, offering affordable food on the go to the many artists, immigrants and locals. Today, Zankou has grown substantially, even expanding the menu from the Beirut days. One of the fan favorites, and one of Zankou’s most ordered items, is chicken tarna.

Tarna literally means “turn” and it perfectly captures the process behind cooking this dish. The chicken is prepared on a vertical roaster, where it turns slowly. The dripping juices help to carmelize the outside of the chicken, so there are crispy bits mixed in with succulent and juicy chicken. The flavoring is also very rich in this dish. Most people who have eaten at Zankou probably know about the family’s roast chicken, which uses local spices for a Mediterranean inspired dish. Chicken Tarna draws directly from shawarma for inspiration, even using Mediterranean spices for flavor.

It is served in slices and meant to be eaten with pita, although some people like to mix it in with the tahini salad that Zankou Chicken serves with its plates.

If you get a plate, it’s basically make-your-own-wrap style with as much as you can stuff inside. If you’re going this route, you might want to ask for extra pita. The bread is baked fresh at the restaurant, and you’ll want to dip some into the hummus you get as a side as well.

If you’ve never tried tabbouleh, it pairs very well with Chicken Tarna. It’s a refreshing kind of crunch, packing some nice greens, bulgar and tomato into your diet for the day.