Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 27th
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Skewer It

dining_MRKebabHPA new Middle Eastern restaurant has opened on Capitola's Esplanade. Mr Kebab and Falafel is the half sister to House of Falafel over the hill, and skewered meats are their specialty.

Fatoosh, the House Salad ($3.99), topped with crunchy deep-fried squares of pita, was served on a large plate, and, as a starter, could feed three people. Strips of romaine were mixed with fresh parsley, cucumber, tomato, and a light lemon juice dressing. The mild mint tasted dried rather than powerfully fresh.

In the Shish Kebab Combo ($9.99) two small skewers each of chicken breast and tender lamb were marinated in a spicy sauce and grilled with bits of bell pepper and onions. The plate was served with a mound of soft, glutinous white rice, heated pita bread, salad, and a generous helping of hummus. The latter was exceptionally smooth with a marvelous mouth feel, but I prefer more lemon juice tartness, toasty tahini, and the bite of fresh garlic.

In the falafel Wrap ($5.99) bright green chickpea balls were rolled up in a large sheet of lavash flat bread with a bit of lettuce and tomato. The unusual addition of sesame seeds, which, toasted in the fryer, was a nice touch, but I missed the traditional cumin and tahini flavor that I adore. The fiery red chili sauce with vinegary tartness, thick with seeds and pulp, was exceptional, but the white sauce I found bland.

On my second visit I had hoped to try the Lamb Shawerma ($6.99), or gyro, but they were sold out of both the lamb and lavash. I instead ordered two plates ($9.99). Five charbroiled lamb and beef kefta kabob patties were nicely seasoned and juicy, and rich with lamb flavor. A generous serving of thick shavings of spit-cooked chicken shawerma were flavorful and chewy, and I did detect some tahini in the hummus.

Mr Kebab, 201 Esplanade, Capitola,  477-9568. Open daily 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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