Restaurant Review – August 2009

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review August 2009

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Juju’s… The Middle Eastern Treat That You Don’t Want To Miss!
By Dorothy and John Salmon

The next time you invite friends to dinner and you are tired, want to have fun instead of cooking dinner, and want to impress your friends with an exotic Middle Eastern dinner fit for a sultan, head over to Juju’s. Just off Trancas at 3375 California Blvd next to the Mini Garden Chinese Restaurant. By the way, this little corner is becoming an “insider foodie hangout.”

We walked past two outside tables into JuJu’s for lunch and into a whole new world. JuJu’s is exotic, bright, cheerful, warm and very clean. When you walk into JuJu’s you are stepping into Lebanon with Lebanese TV playing in the background, three charming tables for lunch set up next to shelves of fascinating Middle Eastern spices and exotic canned goods. If you are looking for a Middle Eastern grocery store, THIS is the place, with grape leaves, couscous by the BIG box, tahini, eggplant relish, pomegranate molasses, roasted sweet red peppers, big fat Beirut style caravan pocket bread (pita) and pistachio mamoul. You step into a world that’s warm and wonderful So, give up that typical turkey and Swiss cheese sandwich and head to JuJu’s. The Middle Eastern décor makes you feel like you are on vacation, not just out for lunch.

As we walked in, the son of the owner, Joumana Sheiky, was watching football (or soccer to us) on Lebanese TV. If you want to listen to great Middle Eastern music, tune into Dandana TV, that was on too. Immediately we wanted to know more about the remarkable couple who opened this very unique restaurant off the beaten path in Napa.

If you are a local and love Middle Eastern food, you probably know Carl and Joumana Shweiky from their years running Gina’s Kitchen on Main Street in downtown Napa. They opened JuJu’s on California with the help of their children. JuJu is Joumana’s nickname.

JuJu’s has been open for a year now, celebrating their one year anniversary this month. Stop by and congratulate them on their anniversary by ordering lunch, or taking it with you since they do a gangbuster business with their takeout. They will make your next dinner party far more fun at a very reasonable cost. If you are at JuJu’s for the first time, you will have the pleasure of meeting some of the nicest, most caring people in Napa. Their menu has many well known dishes like chicken, beef and lamb kabobs, hummus, gyro salad and tabuli. Their homemade walnut baklava is to die for!

Be adventurous and try their baba-ghanough, their fatoosh salad, lamb kabobs and the kefta wrap. We let Joumana choose lunch for us since we wanted to try everything. We sat at one of her warm and lovely tables with an embroidered table cloth, across from an inviting table offering small pieces of pita crackers and one of Juju’s fabulous dips. While we were at Juju’s, the CFO of Regulus came in with his auditor and ordered lunch for the office staff. That is a common occurrence at lunchtime.

Joumana served us a plate of caravan pocket bread and hummus (homemade cooked garbanzo beans, lemon juice, garlic, tahini and olive oil ($6.95/lb); baba-ghanough (roasted eggplant blended with fresh lemon juice, yogurt, garlic and tahini ( $8.95/lb); mujadara (cooked brown lentil beans and cracked wheat with caramelized onion and olive oil ($9.95/lb); dolma (cooked grape leaves stuffed with a savory mix of rice, fresh mint, tomatoes, olive oil and pomegranate molasses ($9.95/lb); and the best tabuli we have ever had (finely chopped parsley, tomato, onion, fresh mint, lemon juice, cracked wheat blended together with olive oil ($7.50/lb).

We consumed the entire Mezza Plate menu and ate healthy, fresh, interesting food for lunch washed down with a cool iced tea plus an amazing walnut baklava for $1.50 each. Dorothy couldn’t resist trying the mamoul, baked semolina flour stuffed with crushed pistachios ($1.75). It was very different and terrific. JuJu’s serves real Turkish coffee for $2.50, fresh lemonade for $2.25 and, best of all, pomegranate lemonade for $2.75.

You can find their on-line catering menu at: http://www.jujuskitchen.com. Click on their “take out menu”, “box lunch menu” and for sure the “about us.” Try their salads too. Those are wonderful. Their sandwiches are original, and spending time with Joumana talking about life in Napa, life in the world in general, education for our children and how we need to really take time to understand each other, will be for you like it was for us, the best part of your visit to JuJu’s.

They like to remind you that going to Juju’s is about “transporting you and your guests to an enchanting place of love, peace and health”. What could be better?

Give them a call at (707) 226-6537

http://www.napavalleymarketplace.com

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