On the Menu: Liberty Station’s Kebab Craft is a labor of love for husband-and-wife team
Liberty Public Market at Point Loma’s Liberty Station is like a United Nations of food courts. You’re pulled in by a collage of heady aromas from warm, woodsy cinnamon, smoky paprika, nutty cumin, sassy ginger and earthy turmeric, along with the sizzling sounds of meats of all manner grilling on an open flame.
You’ll almost swear you’ve stumbled upon a Moroccan souk in the heart of bustling Marrakesh.
Kebab Craft, a Mediterranean grill with hints of Middle Eastern and Syrian flavors, just celebrated its first anniversary. It is the collaboration of husband-and-wife team Shannon and Paul Salhany, college sweethearts who met while attending San Diego State University for its hospitality and tourism program.
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Paul, head chef of the establishment and former manager of the French bakery Parfait Paris, also in Liberty Public Market, is a native of France with Syrian heritage. With Kebab Craft, he was able to utilize his background in Middle Eastern cuisine that he and Shannon believed would fill a need in that ethnic niche.
With the open kitchen concept, customers can place their orders and watch the dishes being prepped like at a free cooking class. It could be a Chef’s Creation, a build-your-own-meal, a pita sandwich ($13), bowl ($15) or plate with two small sides ($17).
Constructing your own culinary project starts with choosing from among chicken, beef shawarma, gyro, (a mix of lamb and beef), New York sirloin steak, falafel or a blend of grilled vegetables such as zucchini, rainbow bell peppers and red onions.
That is then tricked out with an unlimited choice of toppings, including tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, zippy banana peppers, pickled turnips, avocados, feta and scratch-made hummus. Then it’s finished with a homemade sauce such as the classic Greek yogurt tzatziki, spicy red pepper harissa, yogurt-based garlic, chipotle mayo, smooth and silky tahini, olive oil/balsamic vinaigrette or creamy cilantro.
If there are too many decisions to make in light of the mother lode of choices, stick to the Chef’s Creations. The Cali Kebab, one of the restaurant’s bestsellers, resembles a burrito with a Mediterranean twist. With french fries, chopped tomatoes and onions along with feta or a jack/cheddar mix, you’re just left with picking your protein and sauce.
Though Kebab Craft does not offer a kids menu, Shannon recommends ordering a couple of sides that will more than satisfy the squirt-size appetite, such as yellow basmati rice, Greek salad, hummus and pita bread, french fries or any protein prepared as a side portion, including falafel and grilled veggies. Her top menu pick is the simple and classic shaved gyro pita sandwich modestly dressed with lettuce, tomatoes, olives and feta.
Then wash it all down with an iced Moroccan mint tea or a refreshing papaya hibiscus lemonade made in-house in collaboration with Point Loma Tea.
Sweet tooths can indulge in traditional desserts such as Jordanian baklava from Petra Kitchen in La Jolla; Nutella (hazelnut cocoa spread) pita served warm and dusted with powdered sugar; or Arabic churros, a Middle Eastern version of the Spanish treat based on a traditional Syrian dish called balah el sham, drizzled with Nutella dipping sauce and coated in orange blossom sugar.
Kebab Craft’s fresh Mediterranean fusion fare can be eaten in the indoor market’s seating area, on the cheery outdoor patio or in the comfort of your own home, as the items travel well for takeout.
To celebrate the first anniversary, the Salhanys are creating specials like a sauce-of-the-month blend with any combination of 10 aromatic spices, zesty citrus juice and olive oil, along with a hummus rendition.
The first year has been a whirlwind, and the pair is scouting a second location.
“Born and raised in San Diego, I want to expand in this area,” Shannon said. “I am grateful to the Liberty Station community that has welcomed us.”
Where: 2820 Historic Decatur Road, Liberty Station, Point Loma
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Information: (619) 501-0394, kebabcraft.com
Creamy cilantro sauce
• 1 bunch cilantro
• 1 ripe but firm avocado, pitted
• ½ cup sour cream
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 garlic clove
• 1 lemon, juiced
• Sea salt, to taste
• Wash cilantro bunch, cut the tips of the rod, break the cilantro in half, then add to a food processor, or use an immersion blender.
• Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
— Courtesy of chef Paul Salhany, Kebab Craft