As summer and finals approach, many of you will undoubtedly begin daydreaming of foreign getaways, despite the moths in your wallets. Fortunately, for those of you wishing to get just a small taste of exotic locales like the Middle East, delicious kabobs, rice, baklava and hookah are less than a sand dune away.

Hits the Spot

Isla Vista Spot
6521 Pardall Rd.
(805) 968-7768
Price: $10 – $20

Are you hungry and looking for a tasty dish to hit the spot? Then head on around the corner to the Isla Vista Spot. The eatery is open to cater to your needs from 11 a.m. until 12:30 a.m. on weekdays and from 1 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. on the weekends.

In addition to its traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, the Spot serves an assortment of creamy desserts, Manager Kal Shahab said.

“This is a Persian food restaurant and we are famous for our kabobs,” Shahab said. “Our desserts are also very popular. We have French pastries and Middle Eastern baklava.”

The restaurant also caters for events and occasionally includes live music for nighttime crowds.

Hookah is also a main attraction here. You can order dinner along with your favorite flavor of shisha and enjoy both by the fireplace on the patio. The hookah bar also features more unusual fare.

“The apple head hookah is very unique because you smoke out of a cored apple,” Shahab said.

The eclectic Isla Vista Spot offers one of the most unique culinary experiences in I.V.

“We have really good eggplant dip with pita bread for $4.95,” Shahab said. “The kubideh beef entree is $7.95 and comes with rice and salad. Our portions are very large and well priced. We also offer full and half portions of our salads. More menu favorites include our lavash wraps, fresh fruit smoothies and Turkish coffee,”

With so many great options, hookah-n resist Isla Vista Spot’s good food and music at affordable prices?

Holy Land

Jerusalem Garden Cafe
910 Embarcadero del Norte
(805) 685-7010
Price: under $10

With its motto, “Great Food, Amazing Taste, Always Fresh,” you can’t help but be lured to this cafe.

Open all day, and serving breakfast from 6:30 a.m. until 2:30 a.m., this small eatery can fulfill your dreams of ordering a breakfast burrito late into the night.

“Breakfast is the most important meal, and it is also the most popular at Jerusalem Garden Cafe,” Owner Michael Hassan said. “For lunch and dinner, we have traditional items like kabobs and falafel. We also have a few American meals like hamburgers and fresh fruit smoothies.”

The healthy Middle Eastern cuisine at the cafe is prepared from scratch with only the best ingredients. Enjoy three pieces of thickly sliced French toast with syrup for $4.50, or a breakfast sandwich with eggs, bacon, tomato and cheddar cheese along with a side of hash browns for a mere $4.99. However, if meat is not your treat, you can choose the vegetarian plate for two people with an assortment of hummus, falafel, baba ghannouj, grape leaves and tabbooleh for $12.99.

The eatery plans to include new additions to its menu that cannot be seen anywhere else in I.V.

“An exciting addition to the cafe is a Slurpee machine,” Hassan said. “This is the only place that has Slurpees in Isla Vista. We are going to have three flavors, and it is going to be up and running very soon.”

The menu at Jerusalem Garden Cafe offers a wide range of dishes that won’t break the bank.

“Our ciabatta sandwich is a great deal and it comes with coffee for only $4.00,” Hassan said.

Hurry in today to get that bang for your buck.


I.V. Deli Mart
6549 Pardall Rd.
Phone: (805) 562-8858
Price: under $10

Amid the hubbub of I.V., you can find a small deli on Pardall Road. You might know of it just by word of mouth, since it is becoming more and more popular with its fresh sandwiches and affordable prices. Another fun fact to know is that Michael Hassan, the owner of Jerusalem Garden Cafe, is also the owner of I.V. Deli Mart.

While Jerusalem Cafe is well known for its breakfast, I.V. Deli Mart is well-known for its lunches and its sandwiches in particular.

“We are very popular, and we sell a lot of sandwiches,” Hassan said. “The chicken tender sandwich is one of our biggest sellers next to chicken shawarma, New York pastrami, Philly steak and falafel.”

A large selection of breads like Dutch crunch, sourdough, house rolls, pita and wheat rye encase a half-pound of meat in every sandwich. So dig in to the hearty-sized portions for a small amount of dough.

“I know students are on budgets, so my prices are affordable for them,” Hassan said. “Every Sunday, you can get a free 20 oz. soda with a sandwich purchase.”

For dessert, don’t forget to buy a piece of Baklava. And, if you have any other items you need to buy while picking up lunch or dinner, I.V. Deli Mart probably has those too.

Olive You

209 East Canon Perdido St.
Phone: (805) 963-1293
Price: $10 – $20

This downtown treasure is definitely worth visiting if you wish to enjoy some authentic Syrian and Lebanese music and cuisine.

“Kebabs and chicken shawarma are our specialties,” Kelly Wagner, a waitress, said. “For dinner, our entrees range from $16 to $20. We also turn the fire pits on during the evening, and traditional Lebanese music is always playing,”

If you are looking for fine dining with a cool, hip ambience, Zaytoon is the place to go. The entrance is covered in foliage, and the outdoor seating is composed of circular tables with fire pits in the centers. The inside of the restaurant is decorated with deep colors and plush fabrics, so you will feel at ease while savoring your scrumptious meal and beverages.

“We have an extensive wine list. Our wines are from all over the world,” Wagner said. “Also, our Almaza is a Lebanese beer that is very popular,”

Hookah is also served here. Zaytoon offers five flavors: apricot, double apple, grape, margarita and strawberry. For $14.94, you can experience these fruity flavors and, for $6 more, you can refill your share.

Middle Eastern cuisine is something everyone should try, and it’s an easy feat when you live so close to so many great eateries. Go ahead and be adventurous – try something new – and venture down the street or down the 101 for traditional Middle Eastern culinary delights.