Zara Guivi co-owns the restaurant with her husband Matthew. Photo by Westside People
Stepping into Matthew’s Garden Café really feels like a secret garden of childhood fairytales. Tucked into what used to be the backyard of a home off Swarthmore Avenue in the heart of Palisades Village, the restaurant serves breakfast and lunch in about the most peaceful setting in town.
Guests enter through a passage with trellises and vines. The ceramic tile, water fountains and a cool breeze set the proper tone for a menu that’s light and fresh serving breakfast and lunch six days a week – the perfect spot to enjoy a crepe or sandwich Panini.
Owners Zara Guivi and her husband Matthew have lived in the Palisades for 28 years. They met in high school in Iran, came to Los Angeles separately with their families at age 16 and married the day they graduated college. Zara, who also works full-time as a financial wealth manager with Oppenheimer Funds, doesn’t consider her time at the restaurant on weekends and afternoons as work because she enjoys it so much.
“I go from table to table asking how we can make it better,” Zara said. “Matthew deserves all the credit, though. He is here every day before the staff gets here and after they leave.”
When Matthew’s Garden opened two years ago the couple knew very little about managing a restaurant. Zara was familiar with the space, formerly another incarnation where she used to take clients. In making it their own, the couple looked at pictures from restaurants they had visited in Europe. And when it came to the food, they wanted to keep it simple.
“We decided not to make it complicated,” she said. “It’s healthy organic and light food.”
During our visit, we tasted the turkey wrap with a zesty horseradish sauce, the Jasmin salad on a bed of fresh spinach and a mozzarella and tomato starter with balsamic vinaigrette.
“I think a lot of reasons this has a draw is the energy here,” Zara said. “We hear it over and over again from the community.”
Matthew’s Garden Café serves breakfast and lunch 8 am to 5 pm Tuesday to Sunday and is also available for private events anytime.