Thursday, February 6, 2014

Expanding Our Mediterranean Food Knowledge at Garbanzo Grill

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill
6278 Irvine Blvd. 
Irvine, CA 92620

It seems that maybe the new "it" cuisine for 2014 will be Mediterranean food. It is only two months into the new year, and this is already the second Mediterranean restaurant we have visited. After these two visits, I have to say that I am hooked on Mediterranean food now. Not only is it delicious, but apparently it is healthy for you as well, (not that this is a major selling point to me, but to some of you out there, this may appeal to you). 

Anyways, we were recently invited to try Garbanzo Grill. They are relatively new to the restaurant scene, as they were founded in 2007. Started in Colorado, they have now expanded to nine other states, including our very own California which boasts two locations, (this Irvine location and another one in Aliso Viejo). Pretty big growth from a company founded just seven years ago, and they plan on expanding to other markets in the near future. 

Garbanzo Grill focuses on bringing fresh, healthy, and authentic Mediterranean food to their customers. They make almost everything on site, including their own pita bread, which is made fresh everyday. They also pride themselves on using only the freshest ingredients to make their shwarma, falafels, and babaganoush. Not sure what any of these items are? Don't worry, their menu explains what these are in explicit detail, so you will become a Mediterranean food expert in no time. 

It's probably no surprise since Garbanzo Grill is from Colorado, they have adopted a similar style of ordering to Chipotle, also from the Rocky Mountain State. The assembly line process of ordering has become all the rage lately. With foods that people are not familiar with, this makes much more sense. At Garbanzo Grill you start by choosing your entree, (stuffed pita, a plate, or laffa, which could be described as a wrap). You then select your protein, sauces, and sides. The girls behind the counter were very patient with us as we made our decisions.  They explained everything to us, and they even offer samples to help make your decisions easier. Let's see what Katie and I ended up with. 

I went the very traditional route with my choice, the Beef Shwarma Plate ($7.39). Shwarma is marinated beef with Mediterranean spices. The beef at Garbanzo Grill was pretty tender and flavorful. After deciding on the meat portion of your meal, you are offered your choice of salads. I went a little crazy here by getting the lettuce, red cabbage, babaganoush, and their signature vegetable salad. To round out this big plate, I also got their seasoned rice, which I really liked. Next time I would probably skip the salads, except for the babaganoush (which is a puree of eggplant and tahini), and the vegetable salad. I also got a white pita, which was puffed up and perfect for filling it with the shwarma and veggies. This was a good amount of food. 

Katie is always into wraps, so I was not surprised that she ordered the Chicken Shwarma Laffa ($6.79). I would call this a Mediterranean burrito. As with the plates, you have your choice of protein, and many other options to pile into this very thin flatbread. Katie thinks she has perfected the perfect flavor combination on her very first trip here. She added seasoned rice, tzatziki sauce, feta cheese, humus and vegetable salad to her laffa. She liked the lightness of this, but it did not sacrifice flavor. She is already counting on coming back here for lunches, since it is so close to her work. I know for a fact, this will be her go to order when she does come back. 

The sauces at Garbanzo Grill really need to be highlighted here. The night we were here, they had five to choose from. I really liked all of these different sauces. They each brought something different to the table, literally. Of course I was partial to the Red Chili, but even the more mild Tzatziki and Tahini were good as well. If you are into garlic, the Mediterranean Garlic will become your go to sauce here at Garbanzo Grill. Katie felt the Cilantro sauce went perfect with her laffa.  

If you like a crunchy chip, you must get the Garbanzo Chips. These are fried in the store everyday, and are one of the side options to choose if you want to make your meal a combo. Other options include Dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), Falafel (a fried ball of ground garbanzo beans), and an Apple (a fruit, okay you probably already knew what that one was).

Also on the menu at Garbanzo Grill is something that is more well known to people, a Kabob Platter ($9.69). These platters are served two to an order, and each skewer is served with red and green peppers, onion, and your choice of steak or chicken. Each kabob is marinated in their special house marinade. Along with the kabob's, these come on a bed of rice, humus, and their signature vegetable salad. Of the two that we tried, I enjoyed the chicken better. It was pretty tender, and the marinade really came through.

With restaurants like Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill popping up all over, it is just a matter of time before these foods become more well known to the masses. Ordering was easy, everyone was super nice, and they took the time to answer all of our questions. We had a great time, and we will definitely be back soon. 

For more information about Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill, go to their web site here:


  1. Yesssss...keep loving on the Mediterranean food! Maybe you'll even try olives next Mike!

  2. And there's a location in Aliso Viejo, with more OC locations to come! :)

  3. Minerva - You know I'm not into olives, unless you want to make me an olive scone. Now that would be something for your test kitchen. Thanks for reading the blog.

    Jane - Thanks for the info. Keep us posted on what next at Garbanzo Grill.