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Beyond kebab: Five great Bay Area halal restaurants

Halal foodies cannot live on shawarma alone. But even in the metropolitan Bay Area, it can feel like most of the halal offerings are of the Middle Eastern or Mediterranean variety. Everyone needs variety. Luckily, Zabihah.com, the world's largest guide to halal eateries and markets, reminds us that there are more than 400 restaurants in the Bay Area that serve halal food. Here are four casual spots -- and one mouthwatering fine dining restaurant -- to grab a bite:

1. IB's Hoagies & Cheesesteaks: Nothing 'Philly' about these cheesesteaks. They are made to order using 100 percent never-frozen Angus beef and freshly sliced veggies on rolls baked and delivered every morning from a bakery around the corner. 1601 San Pablo Ave., Oakland; www.ibshoagies.com.

2. California Pizza & Gyros: Two words -- Halal pepperoni. Regulars also rave about the cheeseburgers, gyro pizza and soft-serve ice cream. 29587 Mission Blvd., Hayward.

3. Monterey Crepe Company: Specializing in French crepes loaded with fruits, veggies, cheeses, preserves and other tempting treats. Try the King Zakaria with banana, Nutella, strawberries and whipped cream. Fueling up on the way to the Aquarium? Try the chicken panini. 601 Wave Street, Monterey; www.montereycrepecompany.com.

4. Red Hot Chilli Pepper Restaurant and Wine Bar: If Flea and the rest of the rock band wanted authentic Indochinese food straight from Calcutta, this is where they'd go. Chowringhee Chicken with serious Sichuan pepper treatment. Whole fried pomfret (butter fish). Minced lamb cake with star anise and Napa cabbage. 1125 San Carlos Ave., San Carlos. www.redhotchillipepperca.com.

5. Pronto Gourmet Burritos: Need a quick garlic lime steak burrito? How about a tortilla stuffed with lamb or eggplant? Regulars swear by the freshness, friendly service and delicious specialties of this casual burrito house. 6654 Koll Center Parkway, Pleasanton.

(Jessica Yadegaran, San Jose Mercury News, August 13, 2013)

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