A Little Story About Us
Grape Leaf in Morro Bay combines a special blend of seasonings, aromatic and zesty spices, natural and highest quality produce to create the finest, mouth-watering Mediterranean food. To ensure that we only provide the best, we keep our menu simple while offering delicious entrees for everyone to enjoy. We have food for beef, chicken and gyro lovers, vegetarians and vegans. We also have gluten-free options to try.
Known for our signature falafels, plentiful portions and friendly service, we hope to make your stay on the Central Coast a savory trip to the Middle East.
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Our Mission Story
Establised since 2017
A Friendly Intro to Middle Eastern Fare
Originally published in the Bay News (April 2017) by Neil Farrell
“Hello, welcome to Grape Leaf Deli,” Ibrahim “Abe” Abuhilal says to folks passing by on the sidewalk or sticking their heads in the doorway of Morro Bay’s newest eatery.
Abe is the owner of the new, Grape Leaf Deli and Market, located in the 800 block of Main St. The Grape Leaf specializes in Middle Eastern foods, specifically as prepared by Palestinians, his native people.
“We want to show everyone our culture and what we eat,” Abe explains, as a small group of ladies come in. He greets them like old friends and welcomes them to his latest business venture, which will couple with a farm he has just east of town in Chorro Valley. That’s where he grows the vegetables and raises sheep for his “farm-to-table” style of cuisine.
A reporter mentions that Morro Bay has a wide variety of food types — Italian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, health foods, and traditional American fare, so why not Middle Eastern?
The Italians brought pasta to America, he explains, the Mexicans brought tacos and the German’s brought schnitzel. He notes that people who were born outside the U.S., when they grow up in America, they long for the ethnic foods from their childhoods. And one could say, people born and raised in America often crave something different than the typical steaks and burgers.
He notes that several people have told him he serves “the best falafel they ever had.” His recipes come from his grandmother, he says, and his mother who used to be a chef. “My dad and mom cooked for orphans in Jerusalem,” he recalls.
He used to raise sheep in Palestine and drive them to the Dead Sea to market. In the U.S., he’s continued farming, working a 10-acre parcel in Chorro Valley, and has for a long time had a booth at Farmer’s Market selling cheese, donning a Packers’ cheese-head headdress, and talking to people with a carnival barker’s friendly style.
It serves him well in the setting of a small town deli with a small menu of delicious offerings. Beef, chicken and lamb are the main meat stuffs, rice, and of course they have falafel and Baba Ganoush. The dishes are made with traditional herbs and spices, giving them the unique Middle Eastern flavors, and they’ve also got stuffed, grape leaf appetizers that burst with flavor. “Everything is made in-house, from scratch,” he says. They’ll even give you a free sample.
As for his friendly nature, “I want to be close to the community, so they can understand their food.”
He explains that they will deliver and do catering as well. He also has a wood-fired pizza oven and has decided to stay open late for the folks enjoying themselves at the downtown watering holes — Legends and The Siren. Being open late also draws customers from the nearby motels, with who he says he has a great relationship.
He’s also seeing customers from SLO and Camp San Luis, who had served in the Middle East. “I love to hear from them their stories,” he says. “And we make the things they want.”
They are open daily. “Like a farmer’s life, 7-days a week,” he smiles. He plans to open a roadside farm stand where Quintana Road intersects with Hwy 1, and offer the produce grown at the farm, including fava beans, and free range chicken eggs. It’s not GMO, he says, it’s organically certified. The farm will supply the deli and the stand.
They’ve only been open a few weeks, choosing to do a soft opening before making a big announcement. The Bay News would be his first interview. “I’m so happy with the feedback,” he says. “That is very important. These are very nice people in Morro Bay.”
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