Welcome to Roxy’s, Encinitas!

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Proud of owning one of the oldest establishments in Encinitas, Shoja & Shahram Naimi are longtime residents of the charming, unpretentious beach town. He and his brother, Shahram, started The Roxy as an ice cream shop on Highway 101 in 1978. Eight months later, they expanded the place and introduced an all-vegetarian menu. When space opened up next door 15 years ago, they expanded again. They made room in the kitchen to prepare fish and chicken separately from the vegetarian fare, which includes today’s featured recipe, butternut squash enchilada casserole.

Although the brothers are from Iran, the Persian food they offer at the Roxy is limited to spinach frittata and grape leaves.

“Most Persian dishes are meat, and we do not want to do red meat here,” Shoja Naimi said. “We are not hard-core vegetarians because we eat chicken and fish. And when our mom serves us Persian food, we cannot tell her no.”

The governing principle of the Roxy is simplicity, according to Naimi. Most items are cooked from scratch; preservatives and food coloring are avoided. Apart from tomato paste, hardly anything comes from a can.

“The benefit of non-processed food is good health,” he said.

Even those who haven’t been to the Roxy may have eaten its falafel burgers. Naimi said they sell 6,000 to 7,000 of them at the San Diego County Fair each year.

“It is one of our creations and is our number-one seller,” he said. “People order it and come back again for it. I have a customer who has come in almost every day for 15 years and orders the falafel burger every time. If you are a vegetarian, you like the sensation of biting into that sandwich. It’s very satisfying.

“We make our food flavorful and make it not too expensive. That’s the philosophy. Good food, good portions at a reasonable price. Families can afford it.”