When Khaled Waleh, a former visual arts student, opened Zia Gourmet Pizza on Adams Avenue in 2008, he tapped into pizza dough as a round canvas, splashing it with nontraditional ingredients like the yogurt combined with garlic, mint and herbs sauce, bean curd, walnuts, scallions and roasted eggplant. The vegetarian menu takes on a gourmet attitude with feta, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and mozzarella. Akin to a dessert, the cinnamon pear pie layers caramelized pears, walnuts, light cream cheese, sesame seeds and mascarpone cheese onto a white crust. Vegans are also appeased with the vegan spinach garnished with rosemary potatoes and topped with cranberries. This edible artwork is served by the slice, pie or as a calzone. From 5 p.m. to10 p.m., the open kitchen eatery, with its craft beer cooler, brings to Normal Heights the cool vibe and artistic culture that’s typically related to University Heights and Hillcrest.
Helmed by brothers Sandeep and Jagdeep Kambo, Royal India represents the best of two worlds—fine dining and homecooked cuisine. Made-to-order naan, mint chutney, and a decadent tomato tikka masala sauce—which Fodor's summed up in one word: "smoky"—all come from mother Kambo, as do the rest of the menu's authentic Indian specialties and the kitchen's heirloom spoon. Paired with the Market Street location's 125-seat dining room and dazzling indoor waterfall, and it's no wonder Royal India's cuisine has nabbed a top-five ranking in the Best Indian category of San Diego A-List for five years running. What’s more, the spot features an ornate, hand-carved bar, where mixologists craft refreshing Indian mojitos and mango martinis—drinks that rival the kitchen's decadent desserts of mango mousse and spiced rice pudding.
Open from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day of the week, Headquarters Café offers round-the-clock sustenance in the form of artisan sandwiches, pastries, and 100-percent organic coffees, espressos, and teas. Its colorful, breezy interior features various seating options, and compliments a pair of outdoor patios. To properly utilize all of its spaces, Headquarters plays host to frequent events, such as open mic nights, children’s workshops, live DJs, and more.
The ingredients at Spread the Restaurant don’t have much time to enjoy their life outside the garden. In fact, many of the all-organic, fresh veggies, fruits, and edible flowers that go into their eclectic entrees get dug out of the ground, plucked from the tree, or shaken out of the Jolly Green Giant’s knapsack that very day. Spread’s team is uncompromising when it comes to freshness, and virtually everything that their restaurant is and does reflects that philosophy. The menu, for example, changes every day to reflect what foods have been gathered in the garden or at the local farmer’s market that morning, rotating through such creative dishes as wild mushroom ragu, savory cornbread French toast, and white chocolate salad. But besides their freshness, the items on the menu all have something else in common; they adhere to the team’s belief in the benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet.
A passion for fresh and organic plant-based ingredients led Mitch Wallis and Rich Robinson to open Evolution Fast Food several years ago. Dedicated meat eaters will be surprised by the vegan menu, which includes “chicken” burgers and even faux buffalo, along with sandwich wraps, and smoothies. The compact site includes a small inside seating area, a drive through, about a dozen parking spaces and shaded patio spaces for relaxed dining. The ever-popular desserts include cheesecakes, lots of cookie choices and even soft serve non-dairy ice cream that will even please the little ones. The casual atmosphere makes trying the unique and flavorful offerings at Evolution Fast Food an easy and fun dining choice.