A new Mediterranean restaurant named Aladdin Café opened on October 6th at 938 Embarcadero del Norte in Isla Vista, the former longtime home of Javan’s. Owner Sako Abdulhai tells me the restaurant is run by a family who were raised out here with parents from Syria. “We are serving Mediterranean, blending the regional cuisines into one,” says Abdulhai. “We are using the best of the Lebanese, the best of the Jordanian, the best of all that whole culture and making a menu around that.”

The sandwich menu includes Beef Shawarma (beef, parsley, tahini, pickes), Chicken Shawarma (chicken, lettuce, garlic sauce, pickles), Falafel (falafel, lettuce, tomato, mint, pickles, tahini), Ground Beef Sandwich, Chicken Sandwich and Hamburger/Cheeseburger.

The plate menu includes Shish Taouk (chicken breast, rice, salad, hummus, pita), Shish Kabob (beef, rice, salad, hummus, pita), Kaffa (ground beef, rice, salad, hummus, pita), Mansaf (chicken breast, rice, yogurt, cucumber), Kabsi (lamb, rice, yogurt, cucumber), Combo Plate “Vegetarian” (falafel, malfoof, French fries, salad, baba ghanoush).

Hours are 8 a.m. – midnight weekdays and 8 a.m. – 1 a.m. on weekends. For more information call 770-7288

Aladdin Café staff (l – r): Scott Abdulhai, Steven Abdulhai, Georgia Tahan, Wanda Abdulhai, Fred Abdulhai, Maan Najjar, Owner/Manager Sako Abdulhai, Chef Hathim Aziz

The Restaurant Gal ordered the Shish Taouk plate at Aladdin Café with chicken breast, rice, salad, hummus, served with pita bread. The Restaurant Kid is not old enough for solid food so he missed out on quite a treat.

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  1. SL says:

    Looks good from here.

  2. Nadia Rad says:

    Oh my god! This looks so amazing! I am a Middle Eastern woman who has just moved here from MA and I have been dying to find some good Shawarma in the area! Be seeing you guys real soon!!

  3. chris says:

    Looks and sounds great. Too bad it’s in I.V.

    • Jonathan Abboud says:

      Maybe IV will improve if you and your friends venture out and eat there once in a while, it needs some intermixing with other parts of south county. Plus, going to Aladdin Cafe will bring business into Isla Vista which is always healthy for any community development (good thing it is this great food instead of a smoke shop, right?).

      I don’t see what the deterrent to go to IV is. Do you believe you will be attacked or disrupted in IV? That is very unlikely. I think if you take a chance you’ll enjoy your meal in Isla Vista and you can take a walk to the beach afterward. Finding parking might be an issue though, but that is the case in many parts of Santa Barbara as well.

      • Rob says:

        Parking for Aladdin is easy, there’s a parking lot in the back, plenty of room. I’m in IV a lot for business and I eat at the South Coast Deli, Freebirds, etc, quite a bit when I’m out there around lunch time, not sure why some people find IV to be a foreign country. I also bring home Woodstock’s quite a bit, love that pizza & wildebread.

      • chris says:

        Jonathan, we live in central SB and walk most places we need to go, including the beach. I.V. means cranking up the car and driving across town. It takes something special to justify the trip. We might try Aladdin some time since we like the cuisine and are not fans of Zaytoon. The deterrent is that I do find the I.V. “ambiance” a little raucous and the parking miserable – thanks for the tip, Rob. When/if I.V. grows up a little and the student-driven, alcohol-fueled noise diminishes, we might visit more often. As a test, let’s see how this Halloween goes. Meanwhile, best of luck to the Aladdin folks.

        • Christine says:

          I’m the same way in terms of the drive and don’t frequent IV often because it means a special trip. However I’d like to mention that IV definitely isn’t Halloween or (some)Topia party all the time. I choose to visit during the summer and other times when classes aren’t in session. Plenty of parking, light on bicycles too. Chris, you may want to give IV a try during these off times, I recommend it.

  4. Whirl says:

    This does look good. Agree about the reluctance to go into IV.
    Nadia you can also find great Shawarma at Zaytoon downtown.

    • Pelin says:

      Zayton is actually abysmal. Phony “California” Middle Easter cuisine. If you want authentic Middle Easter Cuisine the only place in town is Lovin’ Oven Mediterranean Cafe in IV. I am Lebanese myself and have had to go to LA to find good and authentic Middle Easter food. Zaytoon was laughable and HIGHLY overpriced. Yes, Aladdin may be another good place that is new, but the guy at Lovin’ Oven makes incredible food and VERY reasonably priced.

  5. Kyle says:

    IV Deli make a great shwarma for takeout

  6. Lily says:

    I have been to Zaytoon once, really great atmosphere, but the chicken shawarma had an unpleasant gaminess. I think its only popular because there are so few Middle Eastern options here.

  7. Hani says:

    There’s also Lovin’ Oven in IV that has middle eastern food. I’m surprised another one opened up so close by. May the best man win, I suppose? Nadia, Zaytoon really is good. You gotta check it out. It reminds me of the food “back home” and the outdoor seating is top notch. I’m not discounting Lily’s experience, but I’ve never tasted any gaminess from the chicken at Zaytoon the several times I’ve been there.

  8. Christine! says:

    I have taken my daughter to many UCSB visits- the most memorable are parking at COSTCO and taking the bus in- letting her get a feel for the campus and the students- jumping off and walking, eating and then cruising over to Storke Plaza…she is 12 now, we have been doing this since she was 4. I loved her telling people “I went to college today”. Never have we encountered a problem- unless a underdressed crowd scares you. Watch out for bikes!

  9. Glenn says:

    There is also the Sam’s next to Jiffy Lube in Old Town that is serving middle eastern food partly. Its good stuff, Goleta area is getting something more than what it had before. I’ll have to go check out this place, back parking lot can get full(same one for woodstocks right?).

  10. Mark says:

    Surprisingly good! Not what I expect from an IV restaurant. The food is as good as, if not better than, the Middle Eastern restaurant on Canon Perdido.