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Jul 26, 2006 05:14 PM

Recs - Middle Eastern Food - El Cajon / East County SD

Any help here? I know there's a lot, but I'm looking for the cheap, good ol' hole in walls without any pretentiousness.


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  1. Not really a hole in the wall, but I had good food once at Sahara - I believe in Jamul. Owned by a Chaldean family, so it serves almost as a Chaldean community center. The night I was there, they were doing a wedding celebration, so they just served us stuff for the banquet. It was quite good.
    Excellent dolma, rice, and meat dishes. Friends out in that part of the county like the restaurant a lot, but caution that sometimes the place is closed because of things like wedding banquets.


    1. I'm not sure this'll be much help but you may not be that far off the mark. There is a substantial Iraqi population in El Cajon, you may find some interesting places to eat there and/or around their temple(s). Rancho San Diego also seems to have a growing population from the middle east; investigation in that area may yield something.

      You could also stop into Vine Ripe Market on Fletcher Parkway between Baltimore and Jackson Drives. It is owned by middle easterners and they are frequently on premises. You might score some recommendations just by asking. There is a restaurant attached to the market. I haven't eaten there and have only heard one report (favorable) on it. The menu has the usual suspects, i.e. falafel, schwarma, baba ghanous, hummus. There is a fairly respectable middle eastern bakery in the market itself right when you walk in on the left.

      1. Ali Baba on Main street is cheap and good.

        1. You can see a menu for vine ripe via the market website:
          The attached market sells Halal, so I would think most of the foods served are also Halal. We used to eat there a lot, but the prices kept creeping up. The food is excellent.

          Main Street in El Cajon has a ton (at least 17 I can think of) of Mediterranian restaurants. Almost all are family owned and run, not too expensive and pretty much none have air conditioning....I have never had a bad or un-fresh meal at any of them over the years. Really.