Upon arriving at Sonoma American & Mediterranean Grill, my boyfriend took one look at the shawarma rotisserie and asked “Do you think they’ll let me just jam my face into their meat wheel?” I share this tidbit to illustrate a single point: A spinning wheel of meat can turn an otherwise thoughtful academic into a bespectacled caveman. And Sonoma features meaty menu items a-plenty, from shawarma-stuffed pitas to rib eye kebabs. The kefta kebab (grilled ground beef and lamb) is rich and spicy, and you’d be a fool to turn down the optional cumin roasted potatoes. A closer reading of the menu reveals some star vegetarian players to round out the cavalcade of meat: fattoush (cucumber-tomato salad), tabbouleh (cracked wheat with veggies and mint), and cumin-scented lentil soup. The hummus and baba ghanoush disappointed this garlic lover—they arrived with an odd-but-tasty garnish of pinkish pickled turnips, but overall lacked punch. And I prefer baklava like my imaginary scarf-clad ya-ya would have made: light, flaky, and dense with honey and butter. This parched version didn’t exactly inspire finger licking. Sonoma occupies the former Kona Bistro space in newly gussied-up Oakley; owners Ryan Kassis and Johnny Kaissieh toned down the paint job but kept the full bar and wide-open feel. The “American” part comes in the form of a bacon cheeseburger (and mini corndogs, for which I suppose we must also admit responsibility). The resulting combination is a solid sit-down spot where vegetarians, carnivores, and their picky-eater friends can live in harmony.
Prices: $7.25 and up. Lunch and dinner seven days.
Originally published in the July 2011 issue.
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