Between the newest place to eat a teriyaki bowl, the newest place to chow down on a burrito and the newest place to smoke some apple-mint hookah, Isla Vista’s menu didn’t expand this summer, but it certainly got a few fresh names.
The newest additions to I.V. include a hookah bar and Persian restaurant called the Isla Vista Spot, and a fusion Asian American restaurant, Fresh Wok. While a new taco stand will replace El Taco Amigo, which closed doors after losing its liquor license in May, Sam’s To Go is also adding to the Mexican food selection by revamping its menu with burritos and nachos.
Isla Vista Spot, outfitted with tiled floors, cushions, Persian rugs and a large outdoor patio including a fireplace and heat lamps, opened last night without ceremony. Manager Farooq Hassankhail said the restaurant has not advertised heavily, but he said that within a month, business should be booming.
“I’m getting a location that belonged to Kinko’s – the first Kinko’s – so I gotta do better than that,” Hassankhail said.
Spot manager Cal Shahab said the new hookah bar offers over 45 flavors, and patrons can mix and match tastes any way they please.
Despite the huge stock of tobacco, Hassankhail said cuisine is the eatery’s focus. He said the restaurant offers traditional Middle Eastern food and “top of the line” French pastries.
“The food is what’s going to bring the people in for hookah,” Hassankhail said. “When you smoke our hookahs, you still taste the food.”
The Spot opens at 10:00 p.m., and closes when customers decide to trickle out. Hassankhail said the Spot will soon be open 24 hours every day.
For food in a smoke-free environment, Fresh Wok, located at 6578 Trigo Rd., offers indoor and outdoor seating, with a patio big enough to rival that of Sam’s To Go. The family-owned restaurant promotes a strange mix of food including western burgers, teriyaki bowls, onion rings, orange chicken and egg rolls.
“We wanted to do some fusion – an east meets west kind of thing,” owner Candace Kim said.
Kim said the menu consists of healthy, homemade recipes. She said the French fries are cooked in soybean oil, and all food is freshly prepared.
“Our French fries have zero grams of trans-fat,” Kim said. “I could eat them everyday.”
A new taco stand, El Sitio, is slated to take the place of El Taco Amigo, and Sam’s To Go is also bringing more Mexican food to I.V. Owner Mehrdad Homayouni denied rumors that the restaurant started selling Mexican food to combat rival sandwich shop, Mr. Pickles.
Homayouni said he is looking to expand business by offering the cheapest burritos in town at $5 each.
“You know what, it doesn’t matter, we’ve been here 26 years,” Homayouni said. “We are the original sandwich shop in I.V. An institution.”