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Arabic-Greek fusion is exciting addition to South Bay cuisine Franco Te | Fri, Jan 27 2012 04:54 PM

When the owners of Canada Steak Burger in City Heights decided to expand to a second location in Chula Vista, it wasn’t necessarily a case of build-it-and-they-will come.

It was more like build-it-because-they-are-already there.

“As long as we’ve been at our original location, I’ve gotten to know my customers and one thing I noticed was that a lot of them were from the South Bay,” said Mousa Rahib, who operates the restaurant’s 1,700-square-foot Chula Vista shop with his wife Amera.

So far, the young couple has been encouraged by the response from the surrounding community.
“So far, so good,” Amera said, smiling.

“We’ve been getting a lot of support, a lot of customers, a lot of families,” Mousa added.

Canada Steak Burger expanded to its new Chula Vista location in November. The Rahibs, who insist they are not Canadian, said they inherited the name of the restaurant when the family purchased it in 1981.

The tasty cuisine is actually a fusion of Arabic and Greek cooking that fits nicely into the American melting pot.

The original City Heights location draws customers from a wide base, including those who live as far away as Oceanside. “They’ll call and say start the order, we’ll be down to pick it up in 25 minutes,” Mousa said with a laugh.

The restaurant’s delicious food is certainly not a joke.

Awards include Best Burger in San Diego as well as topping Channel 10’s A-list food chart four times in a five-year period.

The signature menu item is the restaurant’s namesake steak burger — an eight-oz. charbroiled ground sirloin patty topped with a choice of gyro meat (blended beef and lamb), bacon or pastrami that goes for $4.79. The sandwich is stuffed with lettuce, tomato and pickle slices.

The burger also comes in six-oz. ($3.79) and four-oz. ($2.79) versions. Fries are $1.79 extra.

Other popular items include gyro sandwiches, kabobs and salads.

The top-selling combo item is the gyro and souvlaki plate ($9.49). All combination plates and dinner entrees ($8.49 to $14.99) are served with a Greek salad, choice of fries or yellow rice, garlic bread or pita.

“Customers will usually order the steak burger because that’s what they’ve heard so much about,” Mousa Rahib said. “Then they’ll come back and try the kabobs and gyros.”

The eclectic menu — where else can you find a 16 to 20 oz. porterhouse steak sharing the same billing with a falafel sandwich? — embodies the restaurant’s slogan of “What you wanna eat …”
Diners will be challenged to finish a meal.

“The majority of customers can’t finish their plate,” Amera Rahib said.

Besides regular menu items, daily specials also are offered.

We sampled the signature steak burger, falafel sandwich, Greek salad and Philly sub during a recent visit.

We ordered the Philly sub with chicken instead of the traditional streak filling (diners have the choice of both) and were delighted. The sub was quite tasty and made us feel less guilty about consuming unwanted fat and cholesterol.

The restaurant tweaks its Philly sub by adding lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise to the traditional filling of melting cheese and sauteed onion and green bell peppers. We didn’t find it objectionable, in fact, quite the contrary.

After sampling the delicious eastern Mediterranean cuisine, the one thing that struck our review staff was the lack of hummus. That was quickly rectified and we were further delighted to taste the creamy ground garbanzo bean dish topped with a spicy shatta sauce.

 The bright red sauce is obviously made with spicy chiles. It’s hot, leaves a slightly burning after-taste on the tongue, but its unique flavor sets it apart from more familiar Mexican chile sauces.
The restaurant also makes its own tzatziki sauce. It’s so popular that customers order it to take home in 16- or 32-oz. containers.

The scope of the menu is truly amazing. Appetizers include Buffalo wings, chicken strips and nuggets, shrimp with fries and chili fries (all from $2.99 to $6.49).

Besides the steak burgers, customers can also order patty melts (served on rye bread) in four- to eight-oz. portions. Sandwiches include steak, chicken filet with cheese, Philly sub, pastrami, fajita (steak or chicken), grilled cheese, fish and falafel.

The eight-oz. grilled chicken sandwich is another option for those not desiring red meat, as are baked chicken dinner selections. Vegetarian options are numerous as well.

“Our goal is to get to know our customers on a first-name basis,” Mousa Rahib said. “We want to get involved in the community and, if all goes as planned, to give back to the community.”

The restaurant, located at 409 Telegraph Canyon Road, is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Chula Vista restaurant also offers catering services. Call 420-1300 for more information.

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