With a food issue devoted to cheap eats, it's appropriate we devote this space to the cheapest Middle Eastern cuisine in town: NAZ KABOB, a joint in the part of Fountain Valley that's really more like Santa Ana than the Nice Place to Live. Not a single plate at this former hamburger dive registers more than $10, absolutely shocking considering the selections are essentially meat, more meat—and another round for $3 more.
In the face of rising costs, Naz's owners offer full kebab meals. Whether you order beef or chicken, kufta (ground beef) or even a veggie version, all the kebabs come with rice, a side of hummus, unlimited pita bread and a small salad. There is no skimping on the quality or portions of the meats. All the kebabs are large—really, you should only scarf half of one, lest you become logey—and grilled to the perfect nirvana between juiciness and char that only Mexicans and Armenians truly appreciate. A glutton? Go for the double kebab, two skewers along with the aforementioned sides. The most expensive option is the double fish, two salmon kebabs cooked to ruddiness—and that's only $9.49 before taxes.
Besides the kebabs, Naz also offers a couple of Middle Eastern specialties. Kibbeh is the carnivore's version of falafel, with ground beef mixed with bulghur wheat, then fried to a brown the color of chocolate—imagine fried meatballs, then salivate over these. Think of boereg, on the other hand, as Armenian empanadas—phyllo dough encasing creamy cheese. At a dollar a pop, you can eat big for five bucks. For idiots, there are hamburgers and French fries—they're bueno, but why the hell are you eating American at a Middle Eastern joint?
The best thing about Naz Kabob is that the owners are smart, knowing that their immediate clientele doesn't have time for niceties. This is a no-frills paradise—you order, you sit, you get, you eat. The menu is in English and Spanish, and decorations on the window state that shawerma is like al pastor, a truism because the traditional Mexican meat-on-a-spit was introduced by Lebanese immigrants at the end of the 19th century. When you ask for the shawerma as a sandwich, out comes a bizarre amalgamation of a pita and a taco—an open-faced pita decorated with grilled onions, a couple of pickles and tahini sauce. Forget that this is more Mexican than Arab and grub.
Naz Kabob, 16076 Harbor Blvd., Fountain Valley, (714) 775-7000.