I'm really blessed to have so many FOYs (Friends of Yoso). There are times when I don't hear from them for pretty long periods, but I always appreciate the recommendations folks like KenB and "SomTommy" provide. Receiving emails from them is like getting an early Christmas present. I hadn't heard from FOY ChristinaC in a while, perhaps not since one of her recommendations Chef Tony closed. So I was pleasantly surprised to find an email from her in my inbox two days ago! And even better, it was a recommendation; for a shop called Alforon. Christina's rec's are beyond refute, so even though the Missus was under the weather, we made sure to drop by this tiny shop on El Cajon Boulevard ASAP.
The interior of the shop is tiny, but full of warm colors, and there are wonderful fragrances coming from the oven made of refractory concrete in the back of the kitchen.
The menu is small, but like the very friendly, energetic, and warm Samia, one half of the husband and wife team that owns this shop says, "it is full of good food, everything except one thing, the baklava is made here." Samia makes time to talk to all her customers, and since we really stood out; everyone else seemed to be Lebanese or Armenian, she was curious as how we had found Alforon. I told her that a very "dependable source had emailed me and told me I had to try this place."
Since the various versions of the freshly made flat breads looked great I went with the version topped with Soujouk($5.75):
Looking like a wood-fired pizza, this was wonderful, nice texture (a decent bit of pull), topped with deliciously spiced sausage, and a light sprinkling of fresh white cheese. I really enjoyed this, and can't wait to try othe versions of this...... I have a feeling the basic Zaatar, made with imported organic wild thyme and other herbs and spices will be heavenly.
The Missus, craving Falafel went with the Falafel wrap ($4.95):
This was a nice combination of flavors and textures, but was overshadowed by the Soujouk. Still the Falafel was fried to order, and was nice a crisp.
We also ordered the Baba Ghannouj ($5.85), which was nice, not overly processed, and without too much tahini, hit the spot.
This is where I failed twice as a food blogger; engrossed in my meal, I forgot to take photos of the pita bread (ok) and the wonderfully briney house made pickles. I loved those pickles, which edged on the briney side, but was great with the baba ghannouj on a pita. The young man helping with the tables noticed how much I loved these and asked me if I wanted more! At that point, George, Samia's husband started dropping by each table to see how the customers were enjoying their meal. You can tell that George and Samia really care about what they're serving.....
And since Samia told us that we "just had to try some dessert", I walked up to the counter, and asked the young man what we should have. He pointed to a tray in the cold case, pointed, and said "you have to try that, it is the best." Since I just saw a gentleman polish off one of these, then get two orders to go, I didn't need much more prompting..... we had the Aaysh Essaraya ($3.95):
Starting with a bed of slightly sweet, thick, clotted cream, on which laid a bread-bread-crumb like layer, topped with crumbled pistachios and fragrant rosewater, this was indeed quite good. No wonder they call this "bread of the mansion." Even I, not much of a fan of desserts really enjoyed this.
Needless to say, we'll be back. The food is reasonably priced(everything under $7), but you'll be tempted to get something to go. We saw two tables of two gentleman end up buying $55+ of food....they ate a good amount, and got even more to go......we were tempted to do the same....... George and Samia are so warm and friendly, they make the meal an even more enjoyable experience.
5965 El Cajon Blvd
San Diego, CA 92115
Thanks again for the wonderful recommendation Christina!