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How Wahib's introduced an Alhambra High misfit to a love of food

Alhambra Source hosted a party last Thursday to better get to know our readers — and for you to get to know us. Amongst the businesses who donated was Wahib's.  Last year Javier Cabral wrote about how the Middle Eastern restaurant became a refuge for him during a difficult transition — and introduced him to his passion.

I underwent a bit of culture shock during my junior year of high school, transferring to Alhambra from East L.A’s Garfield High School. As a result, I never really made any real friends. Instead, I would entertain myself walking around aimlessly and collecting take out menus from nearby restaurants. And when I had the money for it, trying them out.

For my classmates, the place to go eat after school was Rick’s Drive In & Out for an order of chili-cheese drenched crinkle-cut fries and a large coke with free refills. But for me, the best after-school snack was a little further down Main Street: fresh falafel from Wahib's slatered with the sesame sauce, tahini

At first, I was too embarrassed to eat by myself at Wahib’s and would order a falafel pita sandwich and homemade baklava to go (only to eat it in the back alley while listening to my iPod — as if it was any better). But eventually I got over it and my reward for accepting myself were platters stacked high with roasted eggplant babaganoush spread, sweet charred tomatoes and sometimes juicy lamb kabobs that were still rare on the inside.

Indeed, it was at Wahib’s where I first started to accept my unusual passion for food at such a young age. Waiters greeted me with a complimentary plate of creamy hummus and assorted mekhallel (pickled vegetables) with pita that was always served warm every single time I went. And even if the spread at Wahib’s would cost me at least double of what a burger combo at Rick’s, it was cheaper than lying to myself and trying to be like everybody else at the time. The plates of food were also easily enough for two adults or one growing boy. (This is about the time that I earned the nickname "Teenage Glut-ster" and started food blogging. Hundreds of posts, visits from a certain celebrated chef who cooked with my mother, and various published articles later, I'm now no longer a teenager and simply The Glutster.)

But back when I turned 18, there was no question where I would celebrate. I unwrapped sour grape leaves stuffed with highly seasoned gamey lamb and stubby short grain rice while my family giggled at the pinto beans that came with almost everything you order. “Para frijoles? Pues mejor en mi casa!?” “To go out to a restaurant and still eat beans?!” my dad exclaimed. (My family and I were dedicated beaners not for health reasons but for financial ones). But even though most of the kitchen staff working at Wahib’s now are from Mexican descent, legumes —of all types — happen to be staple food in Lebanon, yes, including pinto beans, papa.

Wahib’s Restaurant

Wahby Wahib and his wife have been doing this since 1981 and have recently introduced a pretty awesome buffet option featuring everything mentioned above and some more that is available all day ($10 lunch and $14.99 for Dinner Everyday; $11.99 Monday And Thursday). You can at least get your money’s worth with the all you can eat garlic sauce for which certain  Armenian chicken chain restaurants charge extra.

Wahib's Middle Eastern910 E. Main St.Alhambra CA( 626 ) 281-1006 

Independent journalism is a bedrock of democracy--and it's in crisis. Here at the Alhambra Source, we're committed to covering the local stories that matter most to you. We don’t have advertisers and we don’t have pay walls, but we do have bills. You read to the end of this story. That's great. But this kind of journalism will end without public support. Join us! Support the work and the democratic values it serves. Donate now!

The Alhambra Source encourages comment on our stories. However, we do not vet comments for accuracy or endorse links to posts in the comment section. The thoughts and opinions expressed belong solely to the author of the comment.

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