Oct. 21 2014 03:30 PM

George and Samia Salameh are expanding their Lebanese eatery in El Cerrito

George Salameh
Photo by Aaryn Belfer

    Wedged inconspicuously as it is in a tiny strip mall between a hookah lounge and a karate gym, it's easy to miss Alforon amid the non-descript surroundings. But it's worth driving from wherever you live right this minute to feast on what is quite possibly the best Mediterranean food in the city. Gastronomic nirvana awaits you at this husband-and-wife-owned eatery (5965 El Cajon Blvd.) where everything is cooked in a giant open-flame oven.

    George and Samia Salameh dreamed of owning a restaurant with food from their homeland of Lebanon, and good for us that they made that dream come true. The friendly, gregarious couple opened their doors four years ago and are on the verge of an expansion. They've become too popular for their intimate 20-seat dining room, so a wall is coming down.

    Flatbreads are their specialty, the most popular being the chicken tawook, which comes with garlic paste (good lord, the garlic paste), cheese and peppers. The zataar flatbread with added mint is an experience, and the baba ghannouj deserves to be eaten with a spoon. Kafta, shawarma—all of it is delish, and, hey, vegans! You'll be happy here, too! If you get the munchies, cure them with a baklawa tube or several. They're outrageous. 

    Samia claims they import everything. "Everything!" she exploded, laughing, when I shot her a side eye. 

    "From where?"

    "From Lebanon, of course! We import it all! Chickpeas, olive oil... the olive oil is the best!" It's possible she's exaggerating about the chickpeas. 

    Fact is, Alforon is on the map, even if your husband can't find Lebanon on one and the proprietress has to point it out to him, followed by a bold laugh and the delivery of more flatbread ecstasy.

    Email Aaryn Belfer. Aaryn blogs at aarynbelfer.com and you can follow her on Twitter @aarynb.


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