HILLCREST. It can be difficult for a restaurant to shine in Hillcrest, a neighborhood known for having excellent food options. Khyber Pass, however, offers up tasty Afghan dishes flavored with an array mouth watering herbs and spices. Curiosity first brought me to Khyber Pass — I had never tried Afghan food — but it is the quality of the food that keeps me returning.
On my most recent visit, we began with the hummus appetizer. Hummus has become ubiquitous in the United States and is no longer a novel menu item. Khyber Pass’ version of this garbanzo bean dish, however, is smooth, creamy, and tastier than anything available for purchase in the grocery store. It’s an excellent way to begin a meal.
[caption id="attachment_2455" align="alignnone" width="640"] Hummus Appetizer[/caption]
After the hummus, we moved on to the entrees. Thank you Khyber Pass for having an entire portion of the menu devoted to “Vegetarian Entrees!” First up, was the Chalow Baunjaun made from sauteed eggplant with fresh veggies and herbs and served with white Basmati rice. The eggplant is fresh, tender, and not overly oily. Mix in the soft basmati rice, and you have a delicious lunch or dinner.
[caption id="attachment_3005" align="alignnone" width="640"] Vegan Chalow Baunjaun[/caption]
Khyber Pass also shows how spinach, usually relegated to that of a supporting role, can succeed as the focal point of an entree. The Chalow Sabzi entree features a mix of pureed spinach, onion, and garlic and is served with white Basmati rice. This entree makes eating your greens tasty and fun.
[caption id="attachment_3006" align="alignnone" width="640"] Chalow Sabzi[/caption]
Can’t choose which vegetarian entree you want to try? You don’t have to, thanks to Khyber Pass’ Vegetarian Platter, a mix of five vegetable dishes and rices. The components of the platter are not fixed, but you can expect things like Chalow Kadu (featuring banana squash), Chalow Matar (featuring sauteed green peas), and Mushroom Curry to make appearances. I usually just ask for the platter to be made vegan (they are very nice about taking off any cheese or yogurt toppings for me) and enjoy the results!
[caption id="attachment_2458" align="alignnone" width="640"] Vegetarian Platter[/caption]
And if you’re like me, you’re always ready to try a new type of hot tea. The Afghan tea Khyber Pass serves is not too bitter or sweet and pairs perfectly with a meal.
[caption id="attachment_2460" align="alignnone" width="569"] Hot Tea[/caption]
Khyber Pass provides a comfortable and relaxing dining atmosphere. Beside the food and the ambiance, I always enjoy my experience with the servers. They are courteous, knowledgeable about the menu, and always happy to answer questions about the dishes.
[caption id="attachment_2461" align="alignnone" width="640"] Interior Khyber Pass[/caption]
Want to enjoy your food and fresh air? Ask to sit on Khyber Pass’ outdoor patio. It’s a great spot to relax and people watch!
[caption id="attachment_2462" align="alignnone" width="640"] Khyber Pass Outdoor Patio[/caption]
523 University Avenue
San Diego, CA 92111