A Taste of Jordan

No, this is not some late-night Cinemax B-movie take-off of The Great Gatsby.

While zipping along K Street the other day, I noticed a slight but almost cataclysmic change: the True Love Coffeehouse had moved! The sign was still there, but there was another sign on that old white building: Sanad’s Mediterranean Deli. I was, of course, intrigued, since I’ve had to visit the wilds of the Crest Café in order to get my Med on. I added it to my agenda.

Last week, I got the chance to visit. I rolled by 2315 K Street on a Tuesday, exactly one week after they had opened. The inside is clean and spare, although the owner claims that they will be hosting some Second Saturday events and that there will be more artwork on the walls. There is a little bowl of kalamata olives and pickles for appetizers, which was a new one for me. The deli case is full of side orders for you to drool over while you wait for your main plate to be prepared, so watch out.

I struck up a conversation with the chef, who turned out to be the owner, Sanad, a recent arrival from Jordan. The recipes are his, and he prepares most of the food himself. The opening weekend had coincided with Second Saturday in July: “We served 222 people. And we ran out of food on Sunday!”

After eating there, I am not surprised…

A ridiculously small amount of money ($5.99-$7.99) will get you a platter with two sides and some pita bread. I opted for two of these: the falafel (the woman at the counter sucked me in with “it’s my favorite!”) with sides of grape leaves and hummus, and lamb gyro (“He seasons it all himself!”) with sides of tabbouleh and eggplant. Sanad threw in a side of marinated artichokes with feta: “I just made this up today, so let me know if you like it.” I also sampled a few of the desserts, which I will write about in due course.

Falafel: I’m still a little bit unclear about what is involved with falafel, but boy was it good. Three small muffin-looking guys, fried to a deep brown. Crispy outside, soft flavorful inside. Chickpeas, parsley and other stuff.

Grape leaves: To. Die. For. I should have ordered a dozen. Just the right consistency, just the right mint flavor on the inside, mixed with rice and other spices. Wow.

Hummus: Very tasty and not too gummy or grainy or gooey or oily. Rivals the Mad Greek in Baker (Home of the World’s Largest Thermometer.)

Gyro: I watched Sanad slice the lamb off a huge spit, which was pretty darn cool. The meat itself was, as advertised, well-spiced, but a bit dry. It definitely profited from the yogurt sauce that came with it.

Tabbouleh: I have never seen so much parsley in one place. Fresh tomatoes, more mint and some onions rounded it out nicely.

Eggplant: I love eggplant, and this was well done for what it was. Much less spiced than the other dishes, it allowed the real eggplant flavor to come out. This could be a positive or a negative, depending on your relationship with the vegetable of Purple Passion.

Artichokes: Yum, yum, yum. Not over-marinated, and not too salty. Definitely worth keeping on the menu.

And then, the desserts. There were three, of which I recognized only the baklava. The first was a bar-type thing, composed mostly of honey and coconut. It was overpoweringly sweet, and I bet Winnie the Pooh would love it. I, however, could only handle a bite before I had to instruct my islets of Langerhans to ramp up insulin production. The second was a little Pirouette-shaped item, more cookie-like and less honeyed. The powerhouse of the three, however, was the baklava.

So much baklava is of the Greek persuasion: Way too sweet and sticky. This one was, apparently, more southern Mediterranean: just the right amount of sweet combined with flaky—kinda like the Sarah Jessica Parker character in “L.A. Story.” It may also have contained pistachio nuts? Maybe? The filling has a greenish cast, but don’t let that deter you, as it is the best baklava you will find in Sacramento.

This was an all-round excellent dining experience. Although I got the food for carry-out, there is an extensive covered back patio, which I’m guessing hops on a weekend. And, it was easy on the pocketbook, as I got out at just about twenty bucks. The food is fantastic, and it’s obviously a labor of love. We’ll see how they fit in with the True Love crowd (as I waited, two couples came in asking, “What happened to the True Love?” Answer: it’s moved upstairs.) but they’ve already started carving out a niche: Another couple walked in, announced that they’d been there on Saturday, and were back for more.

I can’t recommend Sanad’s highly enough. When you go there, just cross your fingers they haven’t run out of food.

2 Comments so far

  1. cd (cndn) on July 21st, 2008 @ 10:37 am

    True Love moved? Again? Didn’t they just (in relative terms) make the move from J to K Streets? I suppose upstairs isn’t far . . .

    But that deli sounds awesome, thanks for the thorough review! (and the SJP reference – LA Story is one of my favorite movies!)

    I want a baklava-off between this place and the Persian variety from Famous Kabob on Fulton. I love that stuff.

  2. sami on July 22nd, 2008 @ 1:56 pm


    I went to Sanad Cafe and I have to agree with you the food was good but need some little work on the Chicken side, but overall is good. I checked a place called Mediterranean Market on 1547 Fulton Ave and WoW, what experience they have the best selection by far any market in Olives, Feta, fresh meat, and over 50 kind of backlava, the pita bread is fresh delivered every day, they have been serving the community for the past 18 years and they won the Best Market in Sacramento for 2007, and they got another award from the Sacramento county. This market is clean, organized and the owners are wonderful, they treat every one like a family and they are from Jordan too. The owner mentioned to me that they will be opening the Deli section very soon and all there meat are fresh, lamb, veil, beef, chicken. Also, the owner mentioned to me that they supply over 98 restaurants in northern California and Sanad Cafe is one them.

    Best gourmet grocery store for the cultured consumer
    Mediterranean Market
    Andy Warhol may have thought the plain old Campbell’s Soup can was an interesting consumer statement. But he’d clearly never set foot in Mediterranean Market. A pyramid stack of giant, bright green Turkish pickle cans gleam so cheery from the store window, you can’t help but pull your car off Fulton Avenue to enter one of the most exciting gourmet grocery stores in Sacramento. You want olives? Well, would you like them from Jordan, Turkey, Greece or Lebanon? Looking to buy a hookah? You’ll want to decide between beautiful etched crystal bases from the Czech Republic, Lebanon and beyond. From Halaal meats to olive oils from across the Mediterranean to gorgeously detailed dishware that’ll send your Pottery Barn mugs straight to the garage-sale bin, Mediterranean Market is as much a foodie education as it is a shopping experience. Better yet, the Market’s clean, vibrant interior—with foods packaged so beautifully you’ll want to display them on your countertops—makes it a place of pride and unity for the Mediterranean-American community in Sacramento. “If you go back to the history, not everyone likes to talk to one another,” said co-owner Bassam Abughazaleh. “But when you come to this store, everyone likes to talk to one another.” 1547 Fulton Avenue, (916) 972-1237. E.P.

    MEDITERRANEAN MARKET It’s one of the most beautiful markets around, stocked with gorgeously packaged foods that you won’t want to stash behind closed cupboard doors. Best of all, it’s a source of peace and unity for the Mediterranean-American community of Sacramento. Who knew groceries could be so progressive?

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