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Celebrate culinary diversity 

    Spanning the world of multicultural cuisine, Adnan Saleh is laying the foundations of a small culinary empire in central San Luis Obispo, and proving that even this seemingly-homogenous city is capable of embracing diversity. A native Palestinian, Saleh moved to SLO from San Diego four years ago to open a small café at 1212 Higuera St. The Jaffa Café has since flourished, providing delicious Middle Eastern delicacies like shawarma and falafel, all under $9.99. Just as Saleh’s staff members — a Lebanese, a Jordanian, and an American Jew — have succeeded in laying their differences aside, the local population has welcomed the manifold Mediterranean menu with open arms.  
    Riding on that success, Saleh has just opened Higuera St. Café at 1074 Higuera. He and Beto González, certified chef, are now introducing shy San Luis Obispo to the flamboyant flavors of Nuevo Latino, a fusion of Latin American, Caribbean, and European influences that originated in Miami in the 1990s. Like the melting pot of cultures commingling in Jaffa Café, Nuevo Latino features a culinary cornucopia of Yucatec achiote, Argentinean chimichurri, and many other succulent salsas heretofore unknown to the palettes of SLO. All of the menu selections at the new restaurant are under $10.
    The Higuera St. Café staff is particularly excited about the full cappuccino bar offering a range of strictly fair-trade organic coffee, but Saleh is most thrilled to have González running the kitchen. A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, González grew up in Morro Bay and took his first job at the Inn at Morro Bay washing dishes when he was 17. After discovering his passion for cooking, he went on to win a scholarship to a culinary school in Washington where he earned numerous awards including Culinary Student of the Year. “This is my passion,� González says. “I love cooking.�
    Higuera St. Café, located next door to the new county government building, serves breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and looks forward to offering a dinner menu within a few months.
— Jeff Hornaday

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