Restaurant Review : Fairouz Café & Gallery in the Midway

by on August 27, 2019 · 11 comments

in Ocean Beach

Restaurant Review

Fairouz Café & Gallery
3166 Midway Dr. #102
San Diego, CA 92110
619-225-0308

By Judi Curry

There are not many restaurants left in the Ocean Beach – Point Loma area that were here when I moved to San Diego in 1966.  Most of the old favorites are gone and as new restaurants open and close, I seem to miss the older ones the most.

What is it that allows a restaurant to stay in business for a long time, still attracting diners – new and old?  The Fairouz has an interesting draw – modern and fine art line the walls, all painted by the owner, Ibrahim Al Nashashibi.  Under each glass enclosed table are poems written by Mr. Al Nashashibi. The poems are absolutely beautiful, depicting thoughts that he has had about life over the years.

The food is eclectic from Mid-eastern countries and there is an extensive menu.  It was time for a “revisit”, so I asked my two neighbors – Tony and Presley to join my Japanese student – Hitomi – and my German student – Christian – to experience a delightful evening.  The fact that Tony is from Portugal and Greek food is her favorite food assured me it would be an interesting cultural evening.

Within the first 15 minutes of being seated, I knew why Fairouz was such a success.

The warmth emanating from Mr. Al Nashashibi and his sister-in-law, Sarah, made all of us feel that we had been friends for years.  We all had the feeling that we were being welcomed into their homes, rather than into their restaurant.

We quickly found out that Ibrahim and Sarah were not of Greek descent at all.  He was born in Palestine, and Sarah is from Jerusalem.  His father opened the restaurant many years ago; he has worked there for the past 35 years.  He tells the tale that when Sarah was two years old he used to take her and buy her chocolates, and now she is paying him back.  We also found out that their entire family works the restaurant on different days.

Lamb shanks

The two of them are such fantastic communicators.  We found out that Ibrahim was a lawyer before he opened the restaurant. (He originally wanted to be a physician, but after learning that he didn’t like seeing blood, he went to law school.)  He actually came to the United States to complete his Doctorate of Law but discovered that he could paint and enjoyed it much more than “lawyering” and dropped the idea of a J.D.

We were blown over to find out that not only was Sarah the “server” but she was also the chef.  She has worked in the restaurant for over 30 years!  And works there 5 days a week.

It was an amazing 2 ½ hours that we spent in the restaurant. Never have I ever had the positive feelings in doing a review that I had doing this one. And, after we left and discussed the evening, it wasn’t just me that came away with the feeling.  Tony said that she felt so welcomed; that we were treated like family.

But this is a review, so let me tell you about the food.  Actually, I can do that in one word.  EXCELLENT.  The four people that I was with each ordered the Buffet – $16.95 and I counted over 50 different types of foods offered.  I actually took pictures of everything but when I downloaded them I decided that I did not do them justice so I am showing you the individual plates that my friends set up for themselves.

Vegetarian Combo

I ordered the Vegetarian Combo – $13.99 – that included hummus, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, tabbouleh, served with warm pita bread, tomatoes and cucumber.  It was delicious.  Everything was fresh tasting, and I finished everything on my plate.

I kept asking the others what they liked the best, and every time they went to refill their plate they ended up with another “best” of the evening.  A few of the items mentioned were the cabbage salad; the lamb shanks, the Greek Salad, the saffron chicken, the coconut carrot salad, the green beans, the chocolate, rice, and coconut puddings, the corn bread, the lemon soup, etc.  I kept asking them what they didn’t like but never received an answer.  They liked it all and went back many times to sample more of the foods.

I do not think I have ever met a more intelligent person that Ibrahim. It seems like everything that he wants to try he meets with success, from the artistry, to the restaurant, to his writings.  He has completed two novels and is working on a third.  He said that the next thing he wants to accomplish is to write a music composition.  He paints to music; now he wants to paint to his own music.

Dessert plate. All photos by Judi Curry.

The five of us cannot recommend Fairouz highly enough.  Besides the excellent food, we noticed that both Ibrahim and Sarah spent time talking to the diners at each and every table.  It was an extremely entertaining evening . I think you will find it so also.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar ZZ August 27, 2019 at 1:25 pm

I like it too. Here’s a tip: if you want a mix of things for take out, you can fill up one large take-out container from the buffet. I’ve done a few times.

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Avatar Mary August 27, 2019 at 3:40 pm

Thank you for this long overdue review of one of our family’s all time favorite restaurants for many many years. Loved reading about Al and Sarah!!! The various staff members have always been so welcoming. We love the buffet! We loved trying all these different dishes that we have never had before. Just plain Yummy! Thank you for this great review of a wonderful family restaurant.

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Judi Curry Judi Curry August 27, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Thank You!

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Avatar Ryan August 28, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Your best review yet. The voice used was modern and on point.

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Mercy Baron OB Mercy August 28, 2019 at 3:11 pm

Can’t believe I lived there for 10 years and never tried that place!

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Judi Curry Judi Curry August 28, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Easy to pass by, Mercy. It’s in a mall where there are so many other places that you just don’t see it.

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Mercy Baron OB Mercy August 28, 2019 at 4:05 pm

The sad part is I DID know it was there! Just never made it in.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie August 28, 2019 at 3:53 pm

Hey Mercy! How’s the move been? How are you?

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Mercy Baron OB Mercy August 28, 2019 at 4:08 pm

The house is amazing! The hot weather has been nothing short of miraculous on my severe arthritis!! I can walk for a long time, albeit indoors for now. Miss the ocean, but truly not good for my body anymore. Very clean here. No planes overhead and NO SCOOTERS allowed!

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Judi Curry Judi Curry August 28, 2019 at 3:27 pm

Thanks, Ryan.

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Avatar Laurel Barile December 1, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Have loved this place for all the years I have lived in SD, since 88 when I was gratefully introduced by a friend! Have had family parties here and love the VIBE created by Ibrahim and Sarah! I always choose the variety and abundant feeling of the buffet and so love their lemon chicken soup that I relied upon it during a period of invalidism in 97. Ibrahim’s art is deeply moving and reflects the region where he was born. Their kindly demeanor each reflect — both in stories and in cuisine — the spirit of world citizenship. That spirit of what we used to call The Family of Man, delightfully from the Holy Land!

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