Saturday, February 13, 2010

Innabi Mediterranean Grill & New York Deli

I have discovered a wonderful New York deli relatively near work that is cheap, good and has great variety. It is Innabi Mediterranean Grill & New York Deli. It is located at 802 West Colton Ave in Redlands.

It is in a strip mall and I only hesitatingly went in the first time after spotting it from the road.

However, as I have been going pretty regularly, it is getting increasingly larger crowds. I am using it to expand my knowledge of Greek and Mediterranean foods in preparation for our trip to Greece, Turkey and the Black Sea area in June. My first few trips to the restaurant I focused on their New York deli sandwiches which are cheap and good. For example, the New York Yankees sandwich has ham, turkey, American cheese, olive oil, vinegar, lettuce, tomato, may, mustard, oinon and pickles.
The New York Mets sandwich has roast beef, swiss cheese and then the same basic ngredients as above.

The God Father has salami, mortadella, ham, capicola and provolone cheese.

My favorite sandwich is the ribeye sandwich. It has a small ribeye steak on tomato and onion rings. I order it rare and they usually cook it to medium, but it really has great flavor. The onion rings are a great on it.
The Honeymooners sandwich is a triple decker on white toast with turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo. It was a little dry and probably my least favorite of all the sandwiches I've tried.

Getting a little more unusual, the Central Park West has corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on rye bread. It is a warm sandwich and is really good.

Lots of corned beef.

One evening I went in and they were advertising lamb chops and hummus for $8.50. I couldn't pass it up and got an unbelievable value and a good meal. The lamb was cooked like rack of lamb and I had to separate the chops. Hummus is mashed garbanzo beans (or chickpeas) blended with tahini sauce (a paste of ground sesame seeds), olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It was the best hummus I've ever had. It also had rice and two stuffed tomatoes.

I went in another night and they advertised it again, this time it was about $2.00 more and included a salad. I couldn't pass it up and what I got was incredible. The lamb chops had been grilled separately, were cooked rare, as I requested and had amazing flavor.
Also on the Mediterranean end, their Greek Gyro sandwich is served with gyro strips (lamb and beef) on pita bread with lettuce, lots of onion, tomato and lots of tzaziki sauce (strained yogurt mixed wtih cucumbers, garlic, olive oil, pepper and sometimes dill).
Their beef shawarma sandwich is beef with lettuce, onions, tomato, pickled turnip (the red item - unusual, but good) and tahini sauce (paste of ground sesame seeds). I really liked the unusualness of the tahini sauce and pickled turnip.

I believe this is the first shawarma I've ever eaten, although it is a variation of the doner kabob which I've eaten in Japan. The kifta kabob sandwich is much like the shawarma, except that it does not come with onion and it has ground beef instead of sliced beef. I much preferred the shawarma to the kifta kabob.

Fetayer is pastry stuffed with spinach and onion. I was disappointed that it was mostly pastry and too little spinach and onion. Even after I took the top layer of pastry off, I still was not a big fan.

Falafel is chickpeas (garbanzo beans) soaked in bicarbonate of soda, then ground together with onion, parsley and spices such as cumin and coriander, then shaped into patties and deep fried.
I was very surprised to open them up and find that they were green inside. I think of garbanzo beans as being white. However, there are many different varieties, including green. I did not particularly like the falafel, but it is usually eaten in a pita with lots of other ingredients.
So I went back and got a falafel sandwich: a pita with falafel, tahini sauce, lettuce, tomatoes and some pickled turnips. The falafel was much better with the supporting cast.
Somewhat similar is fried kibbeh. Kibbeh is a Levantine Arab dish made of bulgur (durum wheat parboiled, dried and partially de-branned) stuffed with minced beef and pine nutes. It is in an an egg shape and came with a tahini sauce, including chopped tomatoes, for dipping.  I was not real fond of it. It was heavily fried, not very moist and not particularly tasty.

Baba ghanoush is an Arab dish of roasted, peeled and mashed eggplant, blended with tahini, garlic, salt and lemon juice, and served with a dressing of oil and pomegranite concentrate. I don't believe the baba ghanoush I had included pomegranite. I liked it, but compared to the hummus, I preferred the hummus. The baba ghanoush was a little lemony.
I also had some stuffed grape leaves, called dolma, with rice, tomato, parsley, and onion, steamed in lemon juice and olive oil. I think of it as a Greek food, but it has its roots in Turkey and the Middle East.
Fatoush or fattoush is a Levantine salad made from toasted or fried pieces of pita bread combined with mixed greens and other vegetables. Mine included tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic, onions, lemon juice and olive oil, in addition to fried pita chips. I would also guess it had some balsamic vinegar although the menu does not list it as an ingredient.

They also make very good baklava. Baklava is a pastry made of layers of phyllo dough, filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey. It appears that modern baklava originated in the imperial kitchens of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, where Judy and I hope to visit this summer.


  1. Ok, when are we going? I'm drooling over here! The best mediterranean I've had is at my fave place in Sugar House... I LOVE pickled beets. SO GOOD.

  2. It makes me sad that the only restuarants near my work are fast food chains. I would love to have options like this.