Falafel, mezze and shawarma: Meet San Francisco's 3 newest spots for Middle Eastern eats

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Photo: Sumac/Yelp

Hungry for some falafel, a pita wrap, or a labneh-topped veggie bowl? Whether your tastes in Middle Eastern food run old-school or new-school, we've found the 3 freshest new spots to satisfy your appetite. Here's what's new in Middle Eastern eateries in SF.


1096 Union St., Russian Hill

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Sumac is a fast-casual Turkish spot serving up sandwiches, bowls and salads inspired by the street food of Istanbul.

Try the Butcher's Kofte Sandwich, featuring lamb and beef meatballs, chickpea salad and fresh herb labneh; the rice bowl, topped with roasted chicken, seasonal veggies and sumac labneh; or a salad with red lentil balls and seasoned feta.

Other menu items include warm pita and an assortment of dips, as well as homemade banana pudding for dessert.

Sumac currently holds five stars out of 27 reviews on Yelp, indicating positive attention.

Yelper Shivani B., who reviewed Sumac on Jan. 4, wrote, "The food was fresh, well-seasoned and cooked right in front of us in the open kitchen. I am a fan and I cannot wait to try all the things on their menu."

Darshita M. noted, "Unique and flavorful!"

Sumac is open from 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on Monday-Thursday and 11 a.m.–10 p.m. on Friday-Sunday.

Beit Rima

86 Carl St., Cole Valley

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Burgermeisters across the Bay Area are quickly transforming into locations of Beit Rima, an Arabic comfort food concept from Samir Mogannam. Mogannam acquired the storefronts from his father, the burger chain's founder.

As we previously reported, Mogannam opened the first Beit Rima in Duboce Triangle in early 2019, and added this second location in Cole Valley late last year. In December, Eater SF and other outlets named the flagship location among the best new San Francisco restaurants of 2019, and a third is now in the works for Daly City.

This counter-service spot offers a selection of mezze (dips and hors d'oeuvres served with pita) and heartier platters featuring proteins like falafel, beef kebabs, braised lamb shank and whole fried branzino. For dessert, there's muhalabia, a pudding-like sweet flavored with orange blossom water.

Yelp users are generally positive about the new Cole Valley Beit Rima, which currently holds four stars out of 12 reviews on the site.

Yelper La H., who reviewed the eatery on Nov. 20, wrote, "Such a welcome addition to the neighborhood!"

K Graham G. added, "Outstanding little place!"

Beit Rima is open from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–9:30 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–9:30 p.m. on weekends. (It's closed on Tuesday.)


71 Stevenson St., Suite 100, SoMa

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Photo: Sababa/Yelp

Fast-casual eatery Sababa has added a new location, offering diners more chances to try its build-your-own Israeli street food-style bowls and pita sandwiches. After debuting FiDi outposts on Kearny and Commercial streets, it's now operating south of Market, on Stevenson Street, as well.

At Sababa, guests choose a base (pita, bowl or rice) and protein (falafel, chicken shawarma, kofta or fried eggplant), then customize their meals with a variety of salads, pickles, sauces and add-ons.

Sababa, whose name comes from a Hebrew slang word meaning "thumbs-up," also bakes its own pita daily in a stone hearth.

The new spot is off to a strong start, with 4.5 stars out of 11 reviews on Yelp.

Yelper Whitney L., who reviewed the eatery on Nov. 15, wrote, "If you're ever in need of a quick yet tasty meal, Sababa is the place to go!"

Sababa is open from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. on weekdays. (It's closed on weekends.)

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