Go Greek, American-style

Kabob House

Kabob House

648 E Bidwell St.
Folsom, CA 95630

(916) 983-6619

Kabob House has been around since I first came to Sacramento back in 2005, and long before that. For years I passed by the big white letters glaring out at Fulton in what had to be one of the most awkward to enter and exit strip malls in the city. An institution in Sacramento restaurant culture, this stalwart has survived economic crashes and who knows how many culinary trends. I decided to pop in and see what the fuss was about.

The Greek salad ($5.25 for a small) was a Greek salad. Familiar, inoffensive, unenlightening—a fine display of iceberg lettuce if there ever was one. There’s little more to say.

Most dolmas are served from a can and often cold. Here was a particularly unique—in American Greek restaurants at least—twist: the dolmas ($5.95) were served piping hot. Bursting with steam, the piquant and the musky flavor of the grape leaves were given a rare starring role. They begged to be bathed in a squeeze of lemon and you should readily indulge them.

The spanakopitas ($3.25), on the other hand, were soggy pillows that brought dishonor to their name. There were no impossibly flaky layers of phyllo dough, and the utterly unseasoned and underspiced spinach filling had all the verve of a comatose DMV drone.

The baba ghanoush ($5.95) tasted spicy, if not impossibly creamy, and a thorough plate-licking was certainly in order. Meanwhile, the hummus’ garlicky punch may prove divisive to some, but if you commute on the train, rest assured that no one will sit next to you the following day, so slather up as much as you can.

The shrimp kabob ($15.95) arrived overcooked and tough, though the enamel-suckingly sour parsley-lemon dressing that accompanied it was certainly welcome.

The lamb souvlaki ($14.95-$18.95) was the champion of the night. Tender cubes of lamb were marinated in spices, and skewered with chunks of onion and bell pepper. Here, it proved to be one of those delightful culinary practices that focuses on simplicity to deliver.

Gyros ($14.95), strips of seasoned beef, are a spiritual affair at Kabob House. They whisper the secrets of meat and fennel to you. Hit them with a creamy tzatziki and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better meal.

The pastitsio ($14.95) was terribly underwhelming. What it lacked in salt, it did not make up for in a measured spice. In addition, many Greek cooks would argue that a great pastitsio uses neatly organized bucatini noodles and nothing else, if only for the sake of beauty. This one uses penne, and, though it may be a shallow critique, I find this dispiriting. Furthermore, the Mornay sauce is flat and seems to lack the zing of a heavy hand of kefalotyri cheese.

The moussaka ($14.95) was, essentially, the same as the pastitsio but exchanged pasta for eggplant. Second verse, same as the first.

We didn’t order the baklava ($2.50) as it isn’t made in house, but rather shipped in from “some place in Texas,” according to the waitstaff. A disappointment for sure and certainly a mark against Kabob House in Sacramento’s current food-obsessed culture.

Order a gyro or kabob and you’re likely good to go (this is, after all, Kabob House). What’s served is the definition of classic Greek food as Americans have come to know it. You won’t be surprised, disappointed or blown away. What you’ll have is a reliable meal that—for the most part—satisfies and won’t ever change.