If you’re in San Diego and you’re looking for some decent (or even great) restaurants for Middle Eastern fare, then you’re in luck. You sure have a lot of options here, starting with the following spot:
The Kebab Shop
This place on Ninth Avenue is great if you’re looking for just a quick lunch or dinner. It’s so popular, however, that on most days there will be a line out the door.
The good news is that you won’t really have to wait all that long to get their specialty Turkish döner kebabs. You’ll get your shaved rotisserie-roasted spiced chicken, lamb, or beef set up into sandwiches, or you can them loaded on to their crispy French fries. Either way, it’s great.
You’ll find this restaurant on Fourth Avenue in the Gaslamp quarter, where it has been serving terrific Persian food since 1996. Bandar’s chicken is so famous that it’s regarded as among the best in the world, and you can add the soltani kabobs to your meal.
They’re open for lunch and dinner, with a “happy hour” from 3pm to 6pm. The dish portions are very generous, so you won’t leave hungry. But don’t leave without enjoying the rosewater sorbet for dessert.
This is a family-friendly restaurant on Sixth Avenue, and as the name indicates, it’s all about Turkish cuisine staples. The menu items come with great flavors and reasonable prices, so just enjoy. The salads are lively, the dumplings are homemade, the kebabs have this nice charcoal scarring, and the baklava is buttery.
You may as well start your morning here if you can. Get the Turkish coffee and the breakfast plate, and you’re off to a great start to your day.
Darband Fifth Avenue Grill
This is another solid option if you’re in the Gaslamp area jonesing for some Persian food. Try the surprise daily specials they offer, and those might convince you to make daily visits here. You might get the khoresh gheimeh beef stew on Monday, all the to Saturday’s sabzi polo-mahi fish dish.
Admittedly, this is not a swanky restaurant. It’s rather small, with a vibe that’s like it’s a hole in the wall. But it’s homey, casual, and comforting. The dishes aren’t expensive (ranging in price from $8 to $20), and the tea is complimentary.
Check out the menu featuring genuine Greek kebabs and other Mediterranean staples, and then just saunter on to the counter. Try out the flat cut chicken kabob, which automatically comes with rice, pita bread, and salad. There’s a reason why it’s one of their more popular signature plates. Add some gyros and falafel, and you’ll really have a great time here.
Sahara Taste of the Middle East
You’ll find this place at a popular strip mall on Jamacha Road in El Cajon. At the very least, the name of the place is surely unforgettable.
But you can say the same for the food, which is more important. You’ll get a mix of fresh, made-to-order dishes with prices at around $15 or so. That means you can sure get your money’s worth here.
The most popular options here include the seasoned slow-cooked lamb over rice, along with the beef dishes, rice kuba halub croquettes, and bureg egg rolls. Add the Sahara fries topped with either beef or chicken shawarma, along with the tahini and garlic sauce. Take your time to savor them all.
Khyber Pass Restaurant
The owners and managers of this restaurant are originally from Kabul, so this is one prime spot to get introduced to genuine Afghan fare. Since Afghanistan is located between Iran and India, the cuisine blends a lot of different flavors, yet it has a distinct charm on its own.
Once you’re here, get some chicken or lamb topped with raisins and carrots, along with the kabuli pulao pilaf rice. Add the aushak leek-filled dumplings and the Bolani stuffed flatbreads, and can then really get into the Afghan spirit.
This is a no-frills restaurant with terrific Middle Eastern dishes, including shawarma, gyros, kebabs, hummus, babaganuge, tabouli, kibbeh, and falafel. But they also offer fresh seafood and pizza, though you can also get the baklava for dessert.
Bring on your friends and family, and just enjoy. With the large menu of options here, everyone will find something they love.
Kous Kous Moroccan Bistro
Come inside and appreciate the low-slung sofas, pillows, and lanterns. The atmosphere and décor are all so intimate, you can’t help but relax. Here they specialize in Moroccan food with great presentation, delicious flavors, and reasonable prices.
Try out the kabobs, salads, and tagines every time you visit. But they also offer family-style Moroccan feasts, which work great for special celebrations. They also have a happy hour on weekdays from 5pm to 6pm, so you can gorge yourself on their $1 tapas while you guzzle their $5 beers.
You’ll find this place on Fourth Avenue, and come here to get away from all that stress!