“SPINNERS” SPARKLES: A SAVORY NEW KIND OF FAST FOOD RESTAURANT
Spinners Fresh Mediterranean Salads & Grill
2654 Jamacha Rd., Suite 101
El Cajon, California 92019
Open daily 11am-9pm
By Leon Thompson
The East County Eater
October 15, 2009 (Rancho San Diego)—Spinners is a treat for your taste buds--Mediterranean food like you have never experienced before. You won’t see food presented like this in any fast food restaurant anywhere. Each selection is served with colorful and delicious exclamations. My plate had slow-roasted gyros, pickled turnips, olives and rose-cut radishes--along with pita wedges and a spicy jalapeño hummus. On my first visit, I also sampled couscous, an amber-hued bulgar wheat dish, and fresh tabouleh on the side. The only thing ‘fast food’ about “Spinners” is the price.
The name “Spinners” refers to the way the meat is roasted, like a rotisserie only vertical. There are three kinds of meat-on-spinners – lamb (better known as gyros), chicken marinated in mild green curry, and beef-- all deliciously rich and perfectly well done.
The last time I was there I had the falafel (made from Parsley, Chick Peas, cava beans and green unions), which look like corn fritters. Whatever your preference, wrap it in fresh baked pita or lettuce then chose between sauces. I like the bright yogurt sauce. Or choose the tahini for beef, the garlic sauce for chicken and the spicy mango sauce on everything.
Did I mention that vegetarians would love this place? The best tasting salad in the universe is the tabouleh, a Levantine Arab dish. Its primary ingredients are finely chopped parsley, cilantro, bulgur, mint, tomato, scallion, and other herbs with lemon juice, olive oil and various seasonings, generally including black pepper and sometimes cinnamon and allspice. It will make your taste buds sparkle.
The menu also includes wraps (including lettuce wraps), sandwiches, Greek salad, savory side dishes and for dessert, Baklavah—a walnut and honey concoction wrapped in filo dough.
If you have been to an upscale Mediterranean restaurant with that great authentic atmosphere, you probably went through doorways shaped like giant keyholes into dining rooms filled with veiled partitions and tapestries to sit cross-legged at a low table. The atmosphere was as exotic and mysterious as the food.
“Spinners” is about as different from that dining experience as you can imagine: a comfortable, familiar order-at-the counter format with an open kitchen of spotless stainless steel and glass. “Spinners” is modern, contemporary, refreshing and mature. The wall coverings, tables and tile floor are finished with craftsmanship and quality materials. Mature because there are no gimmicky clowns, kings or colonels. Refreshing because everything is prepared fresh right in front of you and all the sauces, ripe red tomatoes and condiments are displayed fresh. Spinners definitely lives up to its motto: “Real fresh, real fast.”
This is a great idea for a fast food restaurant. The food is satisfying and fabulous. I have military friends who say they developed a taste for Mediterranean food when they were stationed in the Middle East—which means there is a broad audience here in San Diego County and nationally among military personnel and veterans.
The entrepreneur owner of “Spinners” is David Barka. David grew up here in East County and went to college in L.A. - He tells me that he and most of the 30,000 Chaldeans who live in our part of the county grew up on this kind of food. “Originally we are a Catholic minority from Iraq. We grew up on these flavors – Mediterranean Arabic palette,” he said. David and his family traveled widely to Dubai and Egypt. “When we came here we were surprised there wasn’t already a concept restaurant like this in the U.S.," he recalled, "especially in San Diego.”
I was pleasantly surprised -- and so glad they settled here in Rancho San Diego.
Read ECM's new business article on Spinners.