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“An interesting meal with a mediterranean flavor”

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Tabouli's Deli & Mid-Eastern
Ranked #189 of 298 Restaurants in Monterey
Dining options: Seating
Restaurant details
Dining options: Seating
Salinas
Level Contributor
66 reviews
64 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“An interesting meal with a mediterranean flavor”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 January 2013

This is a tiny hole-in-the-wall place right on Lighthouse, just outside the DLI's Bolio Gate, kind of diagonal from the Coast Guard base.

We walked in and found a tiny dining room, maybe 8 feet by 35 feet. A tiny man behind the counter was doing everything. After a moment, he looked at us, said, "For two? Sit there in the corner." Then he proceeded with a system of cooking, waiting, seating, and serving that was almost a dance.

There was a wait -- there will be, just prepare for this and don't be in a hurry -- and one couple turned away because he would not serve "something quick." The older man just looked at them and said, "You see these people? They're ahead of you. I can't skip them, for you. Sit down, wait."

It didn't seem like long, because watching the unique system seemed like entertainment. Every motion was precise, and every customer was waited on in turn; seated, orders taken, food cooked, food served, checks taken -- it was like watching a chess grandmaster playing several games at once. It was amazing.

The food was excellent. Everything was fresh, and everything was served hot. It was tasty, toothsome, and flavorful. I had the gyros plate. The meat was served on the plate, with the quarter-circle pita on a side plate, and a side of tabouli and a generous helping of hummus. The tabouli was remarkable, and I've never tasted another tabouli quite like it. Also, I'm not a big fan of hummus, but I'll make an exception here. The gyros, of course, were wonderful -- just the right seasoning, and good, tasty meat. The pita was so fresh he might have made it there.

When he came around to leave the check (and in the same motion bus the table across from us as he stepped back behind the counter to ring up another customer), there were two bites of baklava -- tender, flaky, sweet, perfect baklava.

We took our time eating, and ordered Turkish coffee afterwards -- the thick, rich, strong Turkish coffee that is almost impossible to find locally. The kind that is served in its own tiny coffeepot. The kind that teaches you what coffee is all about.

I have had many meals on better plates (he serves on paper) and I have had many meals served faster, but there have been few meals in my life that I have enjoyed more. This was truly a meal apart, and the gentleman who runs the place is an artist. I highly recommend this place to anyone who is even passing near it.

Three tips: Plan ahead, because you will wait; Be prepared to eat from paper plates; and expect the best Mediterranean food you've ever eaten.

BTW: I first tried to review this under the name Paprika and then Paprika/Tabouli. Both names are on the signs outside.

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank User_Default
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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18 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    8
    7
    2
    1
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
rdwarriorcal
Level Contributor
42 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Good place to go, especially if you need to be gluten free”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 August 2012

The restaurant has been renamed: Paprika's/Tabouli's, and that is a delightful name for a delightful restaurant. It is also a good description for the Greek chicken salad I had - lots of mild spicy and delicious paprika.

The restaurant only seats 12 or 14 people, but we arrived late for lunch on a Wednesday. Seating wasn't a problem, and the friendly owner/chef was happy to spend a few minutes with us when we ordered and one of the patrons, whom he recognized.

I needed to order gluten free, and he took me through a tour of the photos on the wall of the various entrees, identifying which were gluten free. The chicken salad was inherently gluten free, but instead of pita, he substituted fresh, soft, warm corn tortillas. Instead of baklava for dessert he substituted Snickers bars. My vegetarian wife had Greek salad as well (no chicken), but she doesn't like feta cheese. No problem - mozzarella cheese was the substitute, and she was very pleased. Also the iced tea is delicious.

We'll definitely come again next time we are in Monterey.

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank rdwarriorcal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Level Contributor
84 reviews
42 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Memorable. Great food and price.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 March 2012

Also known as Paprika's Cafe. We came here based on reviews on Tripadvisor and are so glad we did! We were looking for a place where we didn't have to dress up or spend a lot of money after a long day. The owner/cook/waiter was very personable and deservedly proud of this little restaurant. It's small-- like many restaurants in Europe--but the food is reasonable and delicious. Very good tabouli and baklava. This restaurant was a surprising memory that stands out in our visit to California. Wish we had one just like it at home!

  • Visited March 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank lucybrown000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Mountain View, California
Level Contributor
85 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 81 helpful votes
“Delicious meal in a cozy, charming restaurant.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 March 2012

My husband and I came across this place when we were walking towards Cannery Row. Well, we never made it to Cannery Row that night, but we weren't in the least sad about it. This place while small, is charming, nicely decorated with brassware and oriental rugs, and with comfortable seating. It's a one man show. Our host was originally from Lebanon. It was almost like eating in his home, he greeted us, found out what we would like to eat, and took very good care of us throughout the meal. We had the dolmas, falafel, hummus, tabouli, and baklava and turkish coffee for dessert. Oh, and freshly made lemonade. The pitas was warm from the oven. One thing to mention...there is no alcohol. We definitely would come back the next time we are in Monterey.

  • Visited March 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank alastairdeacon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Monterey
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Great Food with Good Prices”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 February 2010

The food is great and fresh! And I love their Turkish Coffee. This is a great place to try something different if you want to experiment something new. Lots of Vegetarian options too. We try to visit once a week.

Helpful?
Thank gretch3676
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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