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Middle Eastern in El Cajon

globalevent Jul 28, 2013 12:37 PM

We live in San Carlos which is the neighborhood around the south and east sides of Cowles Mtn. bordering Santee, El Cajon and La Mesa. Generally speaking this is a culinary desert, with a few unpolished gems here and there. Last night we found a new one in El Cajon through Yelp. Apparently there is a huge Iraqi community in El Cajon, many of them Chaldean's or Christian Iraqis, so it stands to reason that there would be some good Middle Eastern food to be found. Sammoon Bakery and Restaurant delivers the goods in a clean, unadorned space located on S. Magnolia St. across from the new police station. Most of the menus are in Arabic (is that right?) but the gentleman behind the counter was extremely friendly and welcoming and spoke excellent English. We identified ourselves as first time visitors and he quickly recommended their tasting menu for two ($19). First came the appetizer, a plate filled with hummus, baba ganouj and a delicious cucumber, eggplant and relish like salad. Not Rachel's favorite so more for me. Their bread is unlike anything I have had before in a Middle Eastern restaurant. It's a small piece of raised bread, with a golden brown surface and a light flavor. Unlike pita it does not have a pocket. Next came the "feast for two": it's a huge platter with chicken and beef shawarma, chicken and lamb kebabs, rice, pickles and lots of other goodies. Everything was delicious and well prepared and it would easily feed four hungry people. So, for less than $25, we had a great meal, felt comfortable with our 1 year old and learned a little something new. You can't ask for more than that, right?

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  1. d
    DoctorChow RE: globalevent Jul 29, 2013 12:18 AM

    Have you been to Nahrain for their Masgoof fish? I've heard that the red snapper is very good, but haven't been myself.

    1. Dagney RE: globalevent Jul 29, 2013 04:53 AM

      I love Samoon. Husband and I have eaten there twice and both times the food was excellent and the service was warm and welcoming.

      The various Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurants in East County are like tiny diamonds sparkling through the gamut of crappy fast food scrud out here.

      Have you tried Sultan Baklava? Their lentil soup, called "mercimek" is to die for.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Dagney
        phee RE: Dagney Jul 29, 2013 11:05 AM

        globalevent, the Assyrian/Chaldean population in El Cajon is, I believe, the second largest in the U.S.

        "The various Middle Eastern/Mediterranean restaurants in East County are like tiny diamonds sparkling through the gamut of crappy fast food scrud out here."

        Spot on, Dagney. And we love Samoon, also.

      2. c
        cstr RE: globalevent Jul 29, 2013 04:54 AM

        The bread sounds like it could have been a Moroccan style made with Semolina flour.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cstr
          Cathy RE: cstr Jul 29, 2013 07:32 AM

          They bake sammoon bread, sell it 3 for $1, and sammoon is what's on the side with the meal for two.

          (Some sandwiches there are made with saj bread. Saj is shaped like a tortilla, but is much sturdier and seals on itself when heated-so they wrap a sandwich then re-grill the saj; it's good too.)

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