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Top 5 Middle Eastern Restaurants in San Diego

posted on: Jul 13, 2022

(Photo Credit: Cleantech San Diego)

By: Kimothy Wong/Arab America Contributing Writer

1. Aladdin Cafe

(Photo Credit: ZOMATO)

Aladdin Cafe, located in the Clairemont District of San Diego, offers authentic Mediterranean cuisine in a beautiful and spacious setting. Its excellent catering service and wide range of food choices make it a place worth revisiting.

Aladdin Cafe is very selective on the ingredients, the shawarma here uses premium black Angus beef, and the chicken is all natural, free-range. Chicken Tika, for example, is chicken tenders specially marinated and skewered and charbroiled. On the other hand, Lamb Tika is made of marinated lamb skewered and charbroiled with onions and green peppers.

Kabob in Aladdin Cafe is a must-ordered. The wood-fired pizza and exotic rice plates are also excellent options for customers. Moreover, Aladdin Cafe serves authentic Turkish coffee and mint tea (perfect with a slice of knafeh).

Mixed Grill (Photo Credit: Aladdin Cafe)


5420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117

2. Tahini

(Photo Credit:

Mahmoud Barkawi and Osama Shabaik merged their Egyptian and Syrian roots while designing Tahini’s authentic Middle Eastern street food menu, ranging from a gas station food stand to a sophisticated brick and mortar. American restaurateur Guy Fieri of the Food Network is reputed to admire the shaved chicken shawarma in Tahini.

If you go to Tahini, you have to try their Falafel Pita. It is a soft, toasty pita with a crusty surface. The falafel was crisp, spicy, and scorchingly hot. The chilled cucumber-yogurt complimented the dish nicely.

Another recommendation is Esquire Pita. It replaced steak shawarma with chicken shawarma. The colorful vegetable combination is well-balanced with the somewhat spicy garlic and sriracha tahini. The steak was moist and tender. The addition of fries was brilliant, bringing starch and crispiness to the dish.

Chicken Shawarma Sandwich (Photo Credit: Yelp)


9119 Clairemont Mesa Blvd Ste H San Diego, CA 92123

3. Alforon

(Photo Credit:

The award-winning Alforon is known and loved for its authentic Lebanese Mediterranean food created from scratch every day using authentic imported Lebanese spices and herbs and is ranked #25 on Yelp’s Top 100 US Restaurants. Guy Fieri’s Food Network show showcased the restaurant’s slow-cooked Ouzi lamb and Soujouk flatbread with seasoned ground beef and fresh white cheese.

One of the most popular options is the Lahm Bajeen. Delicious basmati rice accompanied the delicate and skillfully cooked chicken and lamb kebabs. The Baba Ganoush is extremely tasty when served on warm pita bread with pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top.

Moreover, the Ouzi Lamb was served with rice on the bottom and roasted pine nuts and almonds on top, and a side of yogurt. This dish was the show-stopper since the meat was so delicate that it dissolved with a fork.

Ouzi Lamb (Photo Credit: Yelp)


5965 El Cajon Blvd San Diego, CA 92115

4.  Ali Baba Family Restaurant

(Photo Credit:

This El Cajon staple specializes in exquisite halal Iraqi and Mediterranean cuisine, whether a late-night rush for a chicken kabob sandwich or a sit-down ‘feast for five’ meal. Lunch and dinner are served daily, and the complete menu is available for takeout.

The Beef Shawarma with French Fries, beef slices marinated in particular Ali Baba Iraqi gus juice, slow-roasted, and served on top of french fries. According to the menu, freshly baked bread is included with your entrée, as well as tomatoes, parsley, pickled turnips, onions, and saffron rice. The beef was lavishly placed on top of even more substantial fries. The fries were golden brown and crunchy, and they went perfectly with the shawarma, just like the bread.

When Ali Baba was taken to a family celebration, it was noted for devouring its takeout. It’s much better when you eat it hot off the grill or fryer while sitting in their restaurant and taking in the atmosphere.

Chicken Tekka (Photo Credit: Yelp)


421 E Main St El Cajon, CA 92020

5. Medina Moroccan Baja Kitchen

(Photo Credit: Eater San Diego)

Morocco and Baja’s cuisines mix in all the best ways at this incredibly picturesque eatery in North Park. The tacos and bowls on the short fast-casual menu are Moroccan-spiced chicken Asado, housemade lamb merguez sausage, and a North African-style poached egg shakshouka skillet. In keeping with North African custom, a weekend brunch with matching beverages has been added, and a traditional family-style Moroccan couscous plate is served on the first and third Fridays of each month.

Tacos and bowls with Moroccan-spiced chicken Asado, housemade lamb merguez sausage, or sweet potato and black bean combo are among the menu’s highlights. The taco toppings include preserved lemon, scallion vinaigrette, and tzatziki crema, while the bowls are made with couscous and black beans. Shakshuka, a comforting North African dish of poached egg in a smoky, spicy tomato sauce, is also available.

Lamb Sausage (Photo Credit: Yelp)


2850 El Cajon Blvd #4 San Diego, CA 92104

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