Published on November 7th, 2012 | by Gary Rice2
Micho’z – A Piece of Lebanon in Hillcrest
Micho’z Lebanese Grill Review
Up until recently, I had been operating under the assumption that finding decent Mediterranean cuisine in San Diego was an intangible feat. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you’re aware, our city is riddled with a myriad of imposters that purport to serve up authentic Lebanese and Greek fare, but, instead, dish out nothing but drab, bastardized interpretations of the cuisine that do nothing but inspire pessimism and frustration. Yet, just when I had practically written off all hope of finding my go-to Lebanese restaurant, Micho’z appeared on my radar one afternoon as I was running down University Avenue burning off the previous evening’s caloric damage.
The restaurant is located in the heart of Hillcrest, just a few steps away from a myriad of clubs and other popular restaurants. Upon entry, I was immediately struck by how clean the space was. It is obvious that the staff takes great care in maintaining an inviting atmosphere. Cleanliness, along with new chairs and tables, always goes a long way in facilitating a pleasurable experience. Mike (Micho), who later identified himself as the owner of the restaurant, greeted us warmly and immediately provided us with menus. The menu is robust, offering scores of Lebanese classics, in addition to obscure items that are not so readily common, which are sure to tickle the sweet spot of any patron that has a pulse.
To Whet Your Appetite
It’s hardly newsworthy to divulge, but I was ravenous, and my partner in crime also had a serious case of the munchies when we arrived. That being said, arriving at Micho’z with fierce hunger will undoubtedly set you up for a daunting dilemma: what do you choose? Everything on the menu was tempting to our gluttonous sensibilities, and we couldn’t help but vacillate back and forth before we finally settled on the following items:
A truly amazing interpretation! Four large, fried balls of chickpeas and parsley, served alongside a delicious tahini sauce, assorted pickles, tomatoes, and pita bread. Rich! Flavorful! A spiritual experience! Seriously, after having this appetizer, it would be difficult for me to imagine coming back and not ordering this over and over again.
Spinach Pie ($4.99)
Micho’z offers a variety of sajj bread combinations, and the spinach pie that we selected did not disappoint me. The bread is stuffed with spinach that is flavored by a variety of spices, lemon juice, tomatoes and onions. It’s served pre-cut into triangles, thereby making the pie easy to manage with the fingertips. The lemon juice causes the spinach to exude a slight bitter aftertaste. I enjoyed it, but it was the least favorite part of the meal for my counterpart. The cheese pie ($3.99), another sajj construction, and supposedly a customer favorite, is on my “To-Devour List” for the next visit.
Chicken Kabob ($12.99)
The chicken kabob plate was easily one of the many memorable parts of the meal. The chicken is served beautifully plated, accented by fresh tomatoes, a delicious garlic paste, flavorful rice, and a side of your choosing, of which I’ll discuss later in more detail. My innate cynicism, garnered by scores of culinary disappointments, drove me to the expectation of biting into a dried out piece of chicken. Instead, I chomped down onto one of the most succulent pieces of meat that I’ve had the pleasure of placing in my mouth in a very long time. My bliss didn’t end there, either. The marinade that is employed upon the chicken takes it from the level of being merely delicious to that of being utterly divine. More, please!
Gyros Wrap ($11.99)
I could eat this day after day and not grow weary of it. The generous portion of lamb in this gyro is tender and juicy, delicately balanced by just the right amount of tzaziki, and a modest amount of lettuce and onion that ensures a slight crunch in every bite. There’s nothing worse than biting into a gyro and it being overpowered and drenched by globs of runny yogurt sauce. Nothing sloppy like that will be found at Micho’z. To the contrary, all of the wraps appear to be thoughtfully constructed, thereby mitigating the potential for one of those embarrassing, sauce-dribbling events that any female in a black dress would understandably appreciate.
Served as a side selection to one of our entrees, this is the best baba ghanouj, hands down, that I’ve ever tasted. My experience with this dish has always left me underwhelmed; in my experience it typically lacks flavor and, overall, is rather one-note. What you’ll find at Micho’z, however, is a baba ghanouj dish on steroids. The eggplant is fire roasted with garlic, thereby infusing a rich smoky flavor that will spirit your senses to a state of nirvana. It’s an orgasm embodied in a bowl, folks. Served with a basket of soft flatbread, I couldn’t schmear it on fast enough. Before we knew it, we were asking for another basket of bread. If given an opportunity, I would love to just submerge myself in this baba ghanouj and roll around in it. Indeed, I love it that much.
One of the things about Micho’z that cannot be understated is the quality of the food that is being served to its patrons. The vegetables – fresh. The bread – fresh. The meat – fresh. Everything was executed with precision and with the utmost care. Nothing appeared to be pre-constructed. Nothing appeared to be rushed. Those are hallmarks of a proprietor that is seemingly intent on carving out his own identity in the cuisine, an identity characterized by food that is executed with standards that are hard to match by local competitors.
The service was on point the entire time. In fact, Mike waited and doted on us throughout the duration of our visit. Moreover, he anticipated, like any good restaurateur worth his/her salt, everything we needed before having to be asked. As far as pricing is concerned, I’m still bowled over that our entire spread only set us back $37. For the amount of food and its quality, it’s a stellar dining destination for those that are trying to spare heartache on their pocketbooks. When I finally was craned out of my chair and waddled out the door, I left content knowing that not only was my tummy immensely pleased, but that my wallet was still smiling, too.
Micho’z is a welcomed addition to Hillcrest’s ‘hood, and I highly encourage San Diego foodies to support and show some love to this local business. Until someone proves to me otherwise, there’s just no better place to get your gyro and baba ghanouj on. Period.
Micho’z Lebanese Grill
1459 University Avenue
San Diego, CA. 92103