BEST OF MIDDLE EAST COUNTY: GARDEN FRESH GRILL & SMOOTHIE

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GARDEN FRESH GRILL & SMOOTHIE


6165 El Cajon Blvd., Suite F, San Diego 92115
(corner of College Ave. and El Cajon Blvd.)
(619)287-2373
www.gardenfreshsd.com  

 

Review by the East County Eater
 

 

July 23, 2010 (San Diego) – If you’re looking to savor a Middle East feast without leaving San Diego County, stop by Garden Fresh Grill & Smoothie. As the name implies, owner Sammy Elasad, a Lebanese immigrant, takes pride in serving up flavorful foods home-made with the freshest possible ingredients.

Lebanese food is generally considered the most popular cuisine in the Middle East. “Ninety percent of restaurants in the Middle East are Lebanese,” Elasad said, offering up platters of delightfully seasoned dishes that proved why this is so.

 

The foods of Lebanon reflect several influences, including rule by the Ottoman Turks and later, the French. Ancient Lebanese tribes journeyed throughout the Middle East, carrying foods that would not easily perish, such as dates and rice, while bringing home foods from other cultures.
 

In Lebanon, a meal traditionally begins with a mezze, or platter of appetizers not unlike the tapas of Spain. We began our feast at Garden Fresh with samplings of hummus (chickpea dip traditionally seasoned with sesame tahini, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil served with a yogurt dip and pita bread), dolmas (rice-stuffed grape leaves flavored with mint, spices and more), and baba ghanouj (fire-roasted eggplant dip).
 

“We made our baba ghanouj from scratch,” Elasad told us. “Some others use canned.” The burst of flavor made the difference obvious.
 

A tabouli salad, one of my personal favorites, had just the right blend of seasonings along with cracked wheat, onion and cucumber and plenty of lemon juice. Next my companion and I sampled falafel (spiced chickpea patties) and savory deep-fried kibbie, or wheat shells stuffed with spicy meat, onion, walnuts and pine nuts. Delicious!
 

“We have a lot of vegan and vegetarian options,” Elasad noted. Diners may opt from four vegetarian combination plates, or order separate items.
 

Our appetites sated, yet eager to sample still more, we next moved on to savor some main dishes, including beef and chicken kebobs with garlic spread as well as beef and chicken shawarma with sesame tahine sauce. My favorite, the chicken kebobs, were delectable with a secret seasoning blend that I couldn’t convince the owner to share.
 

Tucked into a shopping center in the SDSU College area, the restaurant is decorated with photos from the Mediterranean including Lebanon. Warm, bright colors and an antique Lebanese coffee grinder complete the décor.
 

Menu options include daily special meals, breakfast items, soups, salads, Mediterranean sandwiches, entrees, fresh-baked zatar and cheese pies, and desserts such as baklava.

More dishes will be introduced soon, Elasad disclosed. In August, new entrees will include Moutabalas (an eggplant dish similar to Greek moussaka, topped with béchamel) , and an okra dish with tomato sauce.
 

For those seeking healthy cuisine, Garden Fresh Grill & Smoothie also includes a smoothie and juice bar, where one can also opt for choices such as an Acai Power Bowl or a bountiful fruit salad.

San Diego’s eastern region is now home to Middle Eastern immigrants numbering in the tens of thousands, earning our region the nickname “Middle East County.” Sammy Elahad’s family-owned restaurant is clearly a welcome addition to our region.
 

If you stop by, print out the coupon below for a discount—compliments of East County Magazine.
 

 

Comments

I love Lebanese food. It

I love Lebanese food. It can't be compared to any other dish in the world's cuisine. The taste is unique and the flavor let's you speechless.
Inchirieri

Thanks so much for sharing

Thanks so much for sharing about Lebanese foods and about the Elasad restaurant as well. I heard that middle east foods tastes great but never knew that people were actually talking about the Lebanese. What draws me to Elasad's recipe are the fresh ingredients he uses in the foods he prepare. My eyes have already feasted on the food pictures posted here.
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Juicing recipe

Oh wow! The food looks amazing!There's nothing better than freash healthy food :) I love eating and cooking and I do have a juicing recipe that I'd like to share with you all, it's called called The Triple C Blast Off. The ingredients needed to make this juice include half of a white or red cabbage, four chopped carrots, five chopped celery sticks, half of a red onion, water, one teaspoon of lemon juice, and salt and pepper. All of the vegetables should be juiced right away before adding a little bit of water, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. JUst mix all the ingredients, add some ice & you're good to go! I hope you like, it's really yummy.
For more recipes like this visit http://buylalannejuicer.org

Food lover

Adventurers and food lovers should give this restaurant a try! There is a wide variety of food to choose from. Even health nuts are welcome as they offer a smoothie and juice bar. This is definitely a treat for everyone.

- Miriam (hospitals)"