Thank you for reading mmm-yoso!!! Our food blog shares meals enjoyed so that you too may somehow enjoy. Usually Kirk is writing, but he is otherwise occupied with researching and all that is part of researching. Ed(from Yuma) is otherwise occupied with his job as well as research. Cathy is preoccupied with so many things, but has also managed to take some photos of her meals and today is the one sharing.
Located on El Cajon Boulevard about two blocks West of College Avenue on the South side of the street, the inset row of building with the strange parking in front at an angle and then parallel to the sidewalk as well as on the street in front, Alforon has not changed in the past three or so years.
Nor has the bright interior, with the fancy oven that bakes goodness when you order, just behind the coved opening.
The shelf area has added condiments to the plasticware for people picking up orders to go.
The menu has stayed pretty much the same, with some price increases.
On this visit, The Mister and I ordered a small tabbouleh salad ($5.95). Freshly chopped parsley, tomato and onion mixed with olive oil and lemon and all mixed with bulghur, this is always refreshing and enough to share.
The freshly baked flatbread, topped with Zaatar (a spice mix of sumac, sesame and wild thyme) and cheese ($4.95) is something we are always happy eating. The delicate fresh slightly crisp bread topped with this mix is salty-savory and comforting.
Chicken tawook ($6.95) is something I have cravings for. You can see the abundance of shredded chicken topped with garlic paste and pickle bits and the flavors blend so well.
Here's a little cross section view; you can see how thin the fresh baked crust is.
Always fresh and always good. Comforting quality.
I hope everyone is having a great weekend!
Alforon 5965 El Cajon Blvd San Diego 92115 (619) 269-9904 Website
"Way on the other side of the Hudson Deep in the bosom of suburbia......" What that Dean Friedman song has to do with this post, I dunno......but for some corny reason I love the song.
There's something bright and sunny about it.....
Sort of like the bright and sunny interior of this little shop in the strip mall on the corner of Genesee and Clairemont Mesa, hidden behind the gas station and Panda Country.
I recall this being a Mexican Bakery.....how long ago Mister Falafel took residence here I've no clue. This seems to be a family operation, an older couple and a younger gentleman run the shop....always gracious, always letting me know "it will be just a while for your food, we make it to order."
Since this place is called Mister Falafel, I just had to try the namesake of the shop, right? The menu is compact with salads, "sandwiches" (pita based of course), salads, plates, sidea, and smaller portions called "munchies". I ordered a Falafel Munchie ($3.50)
This was nice, I enjoyed it as a good change of pace from the usual gritty falafel. This version is smooth with a less pronounced parsley flavor. I was told that they use favas as well as garbanzo beans for their falafel. The tahini is more like mayo and doesn't have a real strong flavor.
You can have one side with your order andI chose the Hummus, which was fairly garlicky.
It came with seasoned fried pita chips which went nicely with the dish.
I had ordered the Beef Schwarma Sandwich, which turned out to be pretty large. I thought it was nicely priced at $6.50. As much as I enjoyed the sides, I really didn't care much for this. The meat was very tough, there was too much pita and tahini, you really couldn't taste much. It was pretty hefty though.
Two out of three ain't bad, so I returned a couple of days later. This time I ordered a falafel sandwich and some fries. I saw garlic paste, one of my favorite things on the menu....this leads me to believe the folks who own this little shop are Lebanese.
This was nice and full of garlic flavor, perhaps not as smooth and balanced (I know that sounds wrong when referring to garlic paste) as Alforon's, but much better than what Mama's makes.
Soon enough the sandwich and fried arrived. The fries were typical.
Perhaps I should have learned from my schwarma sandwich. This was just too much stuff and you really couldn't enjoy the rather mild flavored falafel. It was quite filling....you could say I was "fala-full" after eating this.
I think I'll stick with the "munchies" and a couple of sides the next time I visit.
And there will be a next time. The folks running this place couldn't be nicer and the prices are quite reasonable. That's enough to get me to come back.
Mister Falafel 4461 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117 Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 1100am - 800pm
Here's a couple I haven't done in quite a while....I mean quite a while.
Mama's Bakery & Lebanese Deli:
Man, I did a post on Mama's waaaay, waaaay back in August 2005! That would be over seven years ago! I have been back quite a few times since, but really just never thought about doing another post. Of course, in recent years, places like Alforon have over-shadowed Mama's. I was trying to think of the last time I visited.....well, it was before the wall was painted red.
I also think the main thing I get at Mama's, the Garlic Chicken Wrap was still under six bucks....it's now $6.39, which in the current scheme of things is not out of line.
And though I find the wrap a little too thick and "bready" nowadays, when you get one that came fresh off the "sajj" hot with crisp bits, it's still quite good. I'm finding the chicken, premade, wrapped in foil, and kept in a warming drawer a bit dry and somewhat scarcer too. Still, I love the garlic paste and for some reason the tangy hot sauce, which seems more Mexican than anything else. The woman who puts these together has been there for it seems like forever and has always been nice to me.
In the end Mama's is still "good grub" to me. Plus, luck was my side on this day; I scored parking close by......
Mama's Bakery & Lebanese Deli 4237 Alabama St. San Diego, CA 92104
El Borrego for Breakfast:
Here's another one that I last posted on back in May of 2006. I'd been going to El Borrego once in a while since then, usually for something simple like just consomme, tortillas, and coffee for breakfast......who wants a post and photos on that? But our recent revisit to Ranas had me craving Huitlacoche....and just for you CAB, I'll call it "corn smut" one more time. Anyway, El Borrego has Huitlacoche and even Flor de Calabaza quesadillas on the menu.
So I placed my order, two quesadillas ($2.50 each) and some Mexican Coffee...smooth, just lightly sugared, with hints of cinnamon. Nice way to start the day....
Eventually, my quesadillas made their way to my table.....with the black smudges of the huitlacoche strangely reminding of something, I'm not sure why.
The fillings were a bit less than Ranas, the huitlacoche here was not as well flavored, but still with that mushroom flavor with a mildly sweet finish. Even though the Flor de Calabaza (squash blossom) had less filling, it was less dry and had a bit more cheese and flavor than the version at Ranas.
Overall, a nice breakfast, just about everything on the menu is a la carte, so if you're not careful, things can add up pretty quickly. Still the nice woman working here, Rodnia, is friendly...oh and that salsa rojo is pretty spicy too.
El Borrego Restaurant 4280 El Cajon Boulevard San Diego, CA 92115
Just a couple of revisits for a slow moving Sunday......
Man, during my last couple of visits, business sure was slammin'. It's good to see this little mom-and-pop joint. On this visit, I just had a Chicken Tawook ($5.75), which arrived looking just plain delish.
And some garlic paste and pickles to go of course!
Alforon 5965 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
My previous posts on Alforon can be found here and here.
A friend and I dropped by Spicy House for lunch recently.
We had the Pork Intestines with Preserved Vegetable. This was pretty good.
Except the slices of preserved vegetable were really cut too large. Decent flavoring, the intestines had a nice musty-funky flavor without going over the top.
We also had the Crispy Fried Eel with Peppers.
Unfortunately, this dish was a mere shadow of what I had before. Too salty, soggy, and very greasy. It seems that Spicy House has hit a plateau.
Spicy House 3860 Convoy Street #105 San Diego, CA 92111
My previous posts on Spicy House can be found here and here.
Sultan Kebab and Baklava:
I guess I've posted enough on Sultan already. But this is the Missus's latest favorite. We've been eating here quite often recently. So I'll just go with photos.
Sultan Kebab & Baklava 131 Jamacha Road El Cajon, CA 92019
Pho Hiep and Grill - Linda Vista:
We never really had fog where I grew up, so it still has some fascination to me. On a recent foggy morning.....
I'm not sure when spring is going to start this year....... it's been pretty chilly. So, a bowl of Pho just seemed to be the perfect thing. I headed over to Pho Hiep and Grill for a bowl.
Maybe it was too early in the morning? The broth on this day was lighter than any I've had here before. The flavors just seemed diluted. The meat were fine, but I left somewhat unsatisfied......
Pho Hiep & Grill 6947 Linda Vista Road San Diego, CA 92111
When the folks in our monthly "eating club" were polled as to where our next meal should be.... it was unanimous, Alforon was the only choice. so on a recent weekend night, we arrived at Alforon, looking to take on the menu.
Since my first post, I've been here a couple of times, and have grown to enjoy the warm colors and textures of the small dining area.
We started with some Labni (comes with pickles and bread - $4.25):
The labni was very smooth, with a texture like a thick creme fraiche, with hints of lemon, this was very nice. And this time I didn't forget to take a photo of the pickles, which I think are the best in San Diego.
We were all fascinated with the green item in the pickles.... it had the texture of artichoke. George one of the owners told us it was Snake Cucumber, commonly known as Armenian Cucumber in the US. It is actually a melon with cucumber like characteristics. The pickles at Alforon have a wonderful fresh briney flavor to them, and were one of the favorites during this dinner.
I also requested a small bowl of garlic paste.
I've really taken to this creamy and light paste, with a decent, but not overbearing garlic flavor. It is closer to an aioli then a garlic paste, and recently I've been buying 8 ounce containers to go. It would probably make cardboard delicious. Even though George told us that we should only use the garlic paste for chicken, he appreciated our enthusiasm for it...... his son did tell us that he puts on everything, so I guess we were in good company. Samia and George, the owners have such an honest enthusiasm and concern for their customers that is quite refreshing. George even told us the ingredients for his garlic paste (which is nothing like my two recipes), of course he told us the secret is in how he prepares it, not the ingredients. And nope there is no potato or mayonnaise in the recipe. I won't share the ingredients with you.... I want you to try the garlic paste, and make your own mind up.... and ask George, he'll readily share the ingredients with you.
For the meal proper, we started with Zaatar Extra ($3.25):
It is the organic imported Zaatar (Wild Thyme), that is rightfully the star of this. I really didn't think we even needed the "extra" (tomato, olive, and mint), as there was more than enough flavor to go around.
The Spinach and Cheese Flat Bread ($3.75):
Really paled in flavor after having the Zaatar..... though the Missus loves the Spinach only flat bread.
The Soujouk ($5.75) was up next:
I mentioned this in my previous post, and it was indeed just as good this time around. We preferred this to the Lahm Bajeen with Spicy Peppers ($3.45):
A classic Lebanese minced meat flat bread, this wasn't very spicy, and while quite good, it really didn't have the depth of flavor of the Soujook.
The most suprising item of the night was the Chicken Tawook ($5.75):
Looking like a simple white meat chicken topped flat bread, the chicken had been simply marinated and was very tasty. Of course being topped with the wonderful pickles and garlic paste (we of course added even more), this was very good. And to be perfectly honest, this was lighter, more refined, and had better prepared ingredients than what is served at Mama's. About this time George came around and told us that he prepares four different kinds of dough. And that the meat flat breads used a lighter dough, creating a thinner crust than the non-meat flat breads.
About then our Falafel arrived (Six Falafel, Tahini, and Pickles - $6.75):
If you like light and almost creamy Falafel, you'll love this. For me, I like mine a bit more "gritty" and substantial. FOY Jenne thought these were heavenly topped with...... you guessed it; the garlic paste, which made George laugh and shake his head. Of course, right then the young man chimed in, "yes, that's exactly how I like it".
Right then George walked away and came back with some sesame bread that he wanted us to taste with some Zataar sprinkled on it.
Candice commented on how this tasted almost like Shao Bing..... George told us that this is the very traditional bread they make.
Also arriving was the Feta Cheese Pie ($3.25), but by this time we were pretty stuffed.
The four of us shared a Aaysh Essaraya ($3.95) which finished us off.
All in all a very reasonably priced meal at under $50 for four! And we had a really nice chat with George, who told us how the refractory oven is actually the second oven. The first was bought prefabricated, but had many flaws, so he sent it back ($4200 in shipping), and had the one he uses built on site.
Alforon is quickly becoming a fixture on our rotation.... and even on this night, I had to have a container of garlic paste (8oz - $3.95) to go. As always it was wonderful to spend time eating and chatting with Howie, Jenne, and Candice..... thanks for a great time!
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.
Alforon 5965 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
Thanks again for the wonderful recommendation Christina!
Welcome back to mmm-yoso!!! the food blog written by Kirk and occasionally ed(from Yuma), VickyL, Cathy and a few others. Kirk is on vacation and today Cathy is writing.
The other day, I was on College Avenue at El Cajon Boulevard and drove into the Vons parking lot. I remembered a bagel place that used to be here, years ago and saw this instead.
Curious as I am about food, I walked up, asked some questions, grabbed a paper menu saw they serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, smoothies and fruit bowls. They serve halal meat, no alcohol. The families who own and run this very clean establishment are Lebanese.
The Mister and I first went on a Saturday afternoon. Three people were waiting for "To Go" orders, Two tables were filled with people eating, there was one couple in front of us. We ordered, paid and sat down.
We decided to try a cheese & zaatar pie ($2.99). Dough is made in house then baked in the wood fired oven (to the right, behind the pastry case above) the fresh bread dough is topped with a blend of 'premium cheeses', sesame seed and zaatar (oregano, sesame seed, olive oil and herbs) A nice blend of seasonings and quite a bit of cheese on this small (8 inch) pie. You can get a Zaatar pie for $1.99 if you don't want cheese.
The Mister ordered a beef gyros salad ($8.99) (the menu has chicken gyros as an option). The Mediterranean salad - lettuce, tomato, cucumber, pickled onion, parsley and mint topped with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil (house) dressing. Topped with sliced grilled beef gyros (moist/slightly greasy in a good way). This was a large, plentiful, fresh and tasty salad. I ordered the "Combo 3"($8.99)- an assortment of house made hummus, tabouli, falafel and spanakopita. House made everything.: The falafel was made of fresh chickpeas (not the powdered mix) and were light, airy, tender and just crispy on the outside. The spanakopita was crispy (not soggy on the bottom) and filled with Feta cheese as well as spinach and onions. The tabouli was very fresh parsley and bulghur, feta, onions and lemon juice. The hummus was excellent. All were done quite well. The Mister and I shared a cup of Turkish coffee ($1.99).
We went back for breakfast.
First, we ordered a small bowl of fresh fruit ($4.49), cut up just for us (which is the same as when a smoothie or fruit juice is ordered-fresh fruit that is available, not frozen fruit). Banana, apple, pineapple, cantaloupe, papaya and strawberries. Very fresh, flavorful fruit. This was made on the other side of the cash register, where most people were walking in to get their morning smoothies.
The Mister tried the scrambled eggs with chicken schawarma ($6.99). There was more meat than egg. Simple, flavorful, moist. We figured two eggs were used.
We got a plate of pickles.
Along with four pieces of fresh baked, hot bread. These are small, maybe 4 inches, but thick and fluffy and soft. I believe it is the same bread used for the zaatar pie, above, just not as flattened/thin. The pickles and bread accompanied my most wonderful hot breakfast of Foul Mudammas ($5.99) A 30 year old family recipe of warm, cooked fava beans, mashed then mixed with fresh garlic and lemon juice, topped with olive oil.
All cultures have some sort of warm breakfast, usually a grain like oats or bulghur or rice that is a usually made into a sort of porridge. Items have to be added in for flavor- salt, butter, brown sugar or fruit. The fava beans and garlic with lemon juice is by far my most favorite. Garlic for breakfast. Nothing needs to be added to this bowl of goodness. Yay!
Coffee is free with any breakfast order. It is a good dark roast of coffee. The food here is wonderfully fresh. Everyone has been very nice to us every time we have had a meal here, answering questions and asking how we like the food. I plan on stopping by whenever I am in this part of town.
Garden Fresh Grill and Smoothie. 6165 El Cajon Boulevard, Suite F San Diego 92115 (619) 287-2373 Website Open 7 days, 8 a.m.- 9 p.m.
Okay, I know it...I got some nerve doing a post on a Buffet right after Thanksgiving! Guilty as charged. And admittedly, I'm not quite the expert on Buffets and Brunches as Jim the Brunchmaster, who should probably write a "Brunches and Buffets for Dummies" book. But I've had photos of Fairouz just taking up space on my hard drive, so.......
Fairouz has a regular menu, but we've mostly stuck to the buffet, which is $8.99 for lunch and $12.99 for dinner. And in the realm of the Hometown Buffets and various Chinese Buffets, I think that Fairouz is a nice change of pace. Though the sign says "Greek Buffet", I'd say that there are almost as many, or more Lebanese and Mediterranean buffet items.
On this visit to Fairouz, I noticed that the interior had been painted, and some additional lighting added, giving Fairouz a brighter cleaner looking interior. It had obviously been a while since my last visit.
If you think the interior slightly resembles an Art Gallery, you wouldn't be too far from the truth. The Owner of Fairouz, Ibrahim Al Nashashibi, is quite an artist, and his acrylics and water colors adorn the walls of Fairouz.
As for the buffet, there is a nice variety of items, with slight changes everyday. One thing I always notice are the description cards for the buffet items are not always placed correctly...for instance, on this day the Moussaka was labeled as Okra. For some reason I always find humor in this.
And though there are several meat items, like the Kofta Meatballs and Roasted Chicken pictured above, I usually end up enjoying the various starches and vegetable dishes more than the protein items. As you head for the buffet warm toasted pita magically appears on your table.
Okay, two types of potato, and saffron rice...do you think I got enough starch? I should practice what I preach, the Gyros meat was the only item that I really didn't care for. I enjoyed the Fava and Garbanzo beans, the Okra, and the Eggplant dishes.
Though my favorite dishes at Fairouz are the cold Garlic Potatoes, a vinegary, salty, and slightly garlicky "salad", and the various pickled cabbages.
I also enjoy the Rice Pudding with Rosewater as a refreshing end to my meal.
What's that red thingy? It had a sweet, fruity flavor, with a touch of rose water flavoring. I had to ask....it's Fruit Punch Jello! The yellow version is licorice flavored jello......
As buffets go, I think Fairouz is pretty good, and Al Nashashibi is a very mellow and nice Guy. So if you have a group of people, with vegetarians in tow, Fairouz may not be a bad option.
Fairouz Restaurant & Gallery 3166 Midway Dr San Diego, CA 92110
*** Update - thanks to StR, who commented below, Chef Tony is currently closed, and will reopen in a months in a different location. A brief update can be found here, at the bottom of the post.
Way back in August of last year I received an email from Christina recommending Chef Tony Mediterranean and Lebanese Cuisine, so I added Chef Tony to my "list". But for one reason or another we just never quite made it to Chef Tony. Then last week "Keith" left a comment also recommending Chef Tony, so this time I really had to make sure to pay the restaurant a visit. An opportunity arose this past Tuesday. We were headed out to Viejas for a concert, and thought a nice detour to the College area, and a visit to Chef Tony was in order.
Chef Tony is located next to an AM/PM, and fronting a mostly unoccupied strip mall on El Cajon Boulevard. It seems that Chef Tony had been perhaps a pizza joint in a previous life. We were greeted by the dignified, though perhaps vertically challenged fellow at the door. Chef Tony, perhaps?
We arrived at about 530pm, and the restaurant was empty except for a family finishing up dinner.
After a brief wait we placed our order.
The Missus ordered the Lamb Kabob Plate($10.95):
Two skewers of Lamb,on a bed of nondescript rice, some nicely flavored hummus, and a fresh Greek salad with the typical vinaigrette dressing. Nothing really outstanding, except the lamb. The lamb was not just fork tender, but "plastic fork" tender:
And though the lamb was just mildly marinated and seasoned, it was grilled to perfection, with just the right amount of charring. We could have done with a bit more "muttony" flavor, but still, the texture and tenderness was right on.
I opted for the Shawarma Combo Plate($9.95):
Strips of marinated and nicely charbroiled beef and chicken, we both thought the beef had more flavor then the chicken. Though I enjoyed the hummus, and everything else that came with the plate, it's the "white stuff" that made the dish. That "white stuff" is delici-yoso garlic paste, very garlicky, and yet without the bitter bite of garlic. It's as if the "soul" of garlic had been captured. You do understand that I love garlic, right?
Two large warm pitas were also provided for sandwiching our meats and slathering with garlic paste.
We also ordered a half dozen Falafel($3.75):
These were only garbanzo bean falafel, with no fava beans. You can tell by the color, and flavor. Made fresh and brought sizzling to the table. I thought these falafel were fair, since they were small in size, I thought there was too much "crust", and the interior wasn't quite as smooth as I enjoy. The falafel were also a bit on the oily side, and when we finished there was a small pool of oil at the bottom of the bowl.
In a nutshell, if you enjoy the gritty crust of the falafel, you'll enjoy these. Personally, I enjoy the balance the crunchy exterior, along with sufficient amount of slightly creamy "filling". Still not bad for the price, and you know these haven't been lying around or put into some drawer stored for later.
We enjoyed Chef Tony, and I think we'll be in whenever we're in the neighborhood. As we were leaving, the place started to fill up, and the smell of Shawarma(and garlic) filled the air.
Notes on Chef Tony: This is a small Family operation, so one thing it's not, is "fast food". Think of it as very casual, leisurely dining if you eat in. The menu consists of a good variety from appetizers like Dolma($3.95) and Falafel (1/2 dozen $3.75-1 dozen $6.75), to salads (small greek salad $2.95-large$4.95), reasonable priced sandwiches from $3.75(Lebni) to $4.95 (Beef Shawarma), to various entrees ($6.50 - $10.95). Oh, and you can buy a "large" order of Garlic Paste(Toum) for $3.50.
Thanks for the recommendation Christina and Keith!
Chef Tony 6311 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115
Here's where I show my "age". Guess what concert we went to? I'm allowed one "old-fogey" concert a year and this year it was Blondie(good - Debra Harry's voice sounded really good), and The "New" Cars(bleh, except for Elliot Easton). As great a musician and songwriter Todd Rundgren is, he's no replacement for Ric Ocasek. And though Kasim Sultan and Prairie Prince sound like a great rhythm section, they sounded a bit out of synch.....I kept waiting for a "train wreck" especially on Shake It Up, where the tempo would constantly speed up, and Elliot Easton would have to "reign it in".
Of course we kept singing "One way, or another, I'm going to get you, I'm going to get you, get you, get you...." All the way home.
It's seems like the Hillcrest area restaurant scene has gone through quite a flurry of changes recently, with everything from plate lunches(an L&L opened recently) to Vietnamese eateries opening in the area. Even the long standing Jimmy Wong's Golden Dragon is now Golden Dragon Asian Bistro, featuring Asian influenced dishes. Rannoosh is one of those recently opened restaurants featuring Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisine.
The interior of Rannoosh has been done up with rich looking fabrics and drapes adorning the plush but dark interior. If you look carefully you can see the Hookah Pipes on the counter.
You get a little bowl of what I was told were pickled beets and olives delivered to your table. As JS clarified in the comments these are actually turnips, with beets added for color. I'd seen these at North Park Produce sold in jars, and the label said they were turnips, but the Young Lady insisted that they were beets. The pickles were on the bitter and sour end of the flavor spectrum:
There are a few olives hidden under those pickles.
On a recent lunchtime visit the Missus ordered the Lamb Kabob Sandwich($8.95):
The sandwich comes with your choice of green or potato salad. Here's a better look at the sandwich.
There were only four small cubes of lamb in the sandwich, along with a mild garlic spread, pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes. The lamb was very mild in flavor, and was completely obscured by everything else. The green salad had a simple vinaigrette, dotted with sumac and other herbs. The pita is unremarkable, seemed to be store-bought.
I ordered the Chicken Shawarma Sandwich($6.95):
There was a large portion of moist and tender dark meat chicken, though somewhat mild in flavor, was still quite good. I swear I tasted fenulgreek, but can't be sure. This was a very nice and satisfying sandwich, though one couldn't help but compare it to the Garlic Chicken sandwich at Mama's. If I were to do a comparison, I'd say the flavors(especially the Garlic Paste) at Mama's are much stronger, but I'd rather have the Chicken at Rannoosh. I wish something along the line of the bread at Mama's(made to order on the Sajj) were used at Rannoosh. If you order a sandwich for lunch I'd say that the creamy and tasty potato salad is the way to go.
Needing to get out of the office on a recent lunch hour I walked over to Rannoosh for lunch. This time around I ordered The Basterma (cured, air dried beef) Sandwich($6.95):
The First time I ordered this, the Young Lady wanted to make sure that I knew that the beef is not cooked, just air dried. The slices of cured beef; think between pastrami and beef jerky, is placed in a pita, with tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumber. I've had the Armenian version of Basterma, which seemed to be cut alot thinner. This version was cut maybe a bit too thick. On each bite you risked pulling the entire slice of beef out of the sandwich.
If you enjoy the salty, more intense flavor of cured meat you may enjoy this, though the meat can be tough. I asked what the beef was cured with and was told, mainly salt and paprika, and a few other seasonings. You can even see the "cure-ring" on the slices of meat:
Last but not least an appetizer portion of Falafel($5.95). Because these are formed and made to order, they always arrive after my sandwich, but let me tell you, they are worth it:
Having had Falafel ranging from teeth cracking hard, to so gritty and dry it felt like you were eating a handful of sand, let me just say these were Delici-yoso!!! The exterior were a perfect crunchy, and the interior of the Falafel were, dare I say, almost creamy with just a touch of "grit". The Falafel had a perfect amount of "zing", though the tahini based dip was very weak. Who cares, I didn't need it anyway. I could eat these often. In fact the Lady working noticed how much I was enjoying these and told me to try the "Stuffed" (with onions and pine nuts) Falafel next time around.
I'll be back to Rannoosh, maybe for dinner, definitely for falafel. Entrees range from $9.95 to 25.95. Rannoosh seems to do more dinner business then lunch, and the turn around for lunch may be on the long side, so plan accordingly.