Panini Kabob Grill, specializing in healthy Mediterranean fare, opened up at Del Mar Highlands Town Center on Oct. 8.
The company is growing rapidly—this is the 14th location in Southern California but the first San Diego location for the company that started in Corona Del Mar over 20 years ago. Panini Kabob expects to open two more locations in San Diego over the next two years.
“We’re very excited to be in San Diego,” said Harry Lopez, a member of the restaurant’s executive team. “We have high ambitions for this place. We are looking forward to getting involved and embracing the local community.”
“It’s a little scary to open in a new market but the feedback has been immensely positive. This will be the anchor of the San Diego market.”
Panini Kabob, Lopez said, follows the philosophies of the Mediterranean lifestyle—communion with family and friends over healthy and nourishing food. The restaurant uses only the freshest ingredients: Organic cage-free eggs, the best imported olive oil and cheeses from Europe, grass-fed and hormone-free meats, and fresh-baked bread from La Brea Bakery — and everything is delivered daily. “The freezers are for ice cream only,” Lopez said.
It’s a fully scratch kitchen—nothing is pre-made and they take pride in that, he said. Due to the scratch nature of the kitchen, the staff requires a lot of training to ensure that everything they serve is consistently high quality. The menu includes “something for everyone,” including vegetarian and vegan options and food that fits with specialty paleo and keto diets.
The menu features standards such as falafel and tzatziki, Caprese salad and hummus—hummus varieties of garbanzo, black bean or edamame are served up with pita triangles or cucumber slices for dipping. As the name implies there are a variety of paninis, all on grilled Tuscan-style country bread, such as the chicken pesto with sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts and the “must try” roasted salmon and brie.
Lopez said the number one seller is their chicken kabob—“That’s what built this company,” he said of the chicken that is perfectly marinated and grilled.They serve up chicken, beef, lamb, shrimp and salmon kabobs, skewered with grilled vegetables and served with brown or basmati rice or bulgar pilaf.
Lopez said Panini Kabob is unique in that its business is 50 percent takeout. He said it is a great value for families, they have perfected the take-out packaging and ordering on-the-go is easy online and on their app.
Panini Kabob is also open for breakfast with scramble and omelets stuffed with fresh vegetables and items like French toast and the open- faced smoked salmon—avocado toast with chunks of avocado, tomatoes, onions and sustainable smoked salmon topped with two poached eggs and capers. Mimosas are $2.95 every day of the week.
Panini Kabob moved into the space that formerly housed Mia Francesca’s and underwent a complete remodel—the enclosed patio remains (and is dog friendly) and the spacious restaurant has been broken up into rooms but they are separated by glass walls so guests can still see across the big space and yet still be able to have a conversation.
Since its opening, the response has been promising, the dining room was buzzing on a recent weekday at lunch—Lopez said that they have already had repeat customers.
“This really is the perfect neighborhood for the restaurant,” said Virginia Sullivan of VNS Marketing who has been working with the company for years and lives blocks away. “I’ve been holding my breath waiting for them to open up in this market. I could eat here every day.”
Panini Kabob is located at Del Mar Highlands Town Center, 12955 El Camino Real Suite G4 across from Cinepolis. For online ordering visit paninikabobgrill.com