Thursday, September 29, 2022

Eating Around the World - 2022 "Challenge" [September - Mediterranean]

I came up with a fun "challenge" for the hubby and I to tackle in 2022. You see, we try and limit our eating out to once a week (because I'm frugal like that ;)). With that said, we tend to stick to our tried-and-true favorites (you gotta make the most of those dining-out experiences, right?!). Well, that means we usually eat at the same two restaurants. Hear me out, I am NOT complaining, but I thought it might be a fun "challenge" for the year to try a new place once a month. To take the idea one step further, I thought we could try a different cuisine every month - that way we aren't just trying a new Mexican restaurant every month (because, let's be real, I can never turn down great chips and salsa ;)). Here's how it went:

[Originally this was going to be a single post, but blog readers said they preferred monthly, so ask and you shall receive.] 

January - Indian

February - Korean

March - Pizza

May - Mexican

June - Sandwiches

July - Breakfast

August - Thai

September - Mediterranean

I had come across Shaks Mediterranean Bistro on Yelp a while back but saved it for later since I thought it wouldn't be the hubby's jam. I was under the impression he didn't like Mediterranean food because every time they had it at work he would complain. When I suggested it he was all for giving it a go and explained his issue with the restaurant his office sometimes orders from. Come to find out, it wasn't an aversion to the food, it was more the fact that there weren't many vegetarian options so he was left with a side of hummus for lunch (which was not a "meal" in his mind ;)).). 

The name is an abbreviation of the family's last name - "Shakarjian".

Due to the pandemic and the inability to find folks to work at the restaurant, they've had to adjust their hours. We arrived at 3:55pm on a Saturday and although their website and Yelp page show they open at 12pm, they didn't actually open until 4pm. (Their website does say they had to change their weekday hours to 4pm, but didn't mention adjusting weekend hours.) Obviously waiting for an extra 5 minutes wasn't an issue, but was hoping this wasn't a sign of things to come. 

Once we were seated (they were doing construction on the bar area inside, so we sat out on the patio in a half shaded [for the hubby], half sunny [for me] table), we got our menus and dove in. I normally peruse the menu before we go (especially for new-to-us spots), but the hubby doesn't so he needed some extra time. I had already decided what I wanted before we even arrived, but figured I would take the time to double check just in case something else spoke to me ;)

As the hubby had experienced with the restaurant his office sometimes orders from, this place was also lacking in many vegetarian options.  It seemed as though the options were falafel (in either a salad, bowl or pita) or veggie kabobs. There were some starters/ mezzas that are meat-free, but I would say that much of the main menu is meat heavy. But don't you worry your pretty little head, we were still able to find some delicious options to devour ;) We decided to start with the Garlic Dip. Think of it like a garlic hummus with a little kick. Our waitress did warn us about the spice (it was more of a slow burn that would creep up on you), and although we smelled like garlic for the next 24 hours, it was so worth it!

The fact that we smelled like (and could still taste) garlic for 24+ hours afterwards was worth it ;)

The hubby and I both ordered the falafel - I went with the pita and while the hubby went with the bowl. Just like the dip, the meals were scrum-didily-umptions. I'd say the pita was pretty impossible to eat as is. I had to eat quite a few of the falafels with a fork prior to being able to pick up the pita (don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about how over-stuffed it was, more just pointing out that it wasn't handheld at first ;)) Note: I did order mine without tomatoes. The hubby's bowl came with a lot more veggies/ garnishes. Although he is normally not an "olive guy" he kept them on because he said that it would give him the "full experience". In the end he scooped off the olives and didn't eat them after all ;) 

Pita and french fries - probably enough to split into two meals!

Hubby's bowl (don't mind the half eaten garlic gip in the background ;))

Like I alluded to, the portions were EXTREMELY generous. I ended up putting a few of my falafels with the hubby's leftover bowl. [He ate it for lunch the following day with the remaining garlic dip and pita pieces.] We definitely did not leave room for dessert, so we might have to come again because the Mediterranean Hot Cheese Cake was intriguing. 

Overall we both enjoyed everything. We can see why this family has been a staple in North County for 30+ years (originally called The Armenian Cafe in Carlsbad for 27 years and then Shaks [an abbreviation of their last name] in Vista since 2018). I'll be honest, I don't know if we'll be back due to the limited veggie options, but if anyone is ever looking for a yummy blend of Lebanese, Armenian, Greek and Mediterranean flair, we'd totally recommend checking this spot out.

A nod to their previous restaurant in the back of the parking lot

When was the last time you tried a new-to-you restaurant?

No comments: