Mediterranean food covers a lot of delicious territory, and San Francisco has more than its share of restaurants serving cuisines from every country in the Mediterranean region. Some countries share a few staples, though each with its own cultural flavor, along with their national cuisines. Here are five local dining spots to satisfy a craving for Mediterranean dishes.
Layaly Mediterranean Grill
2435 Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94121
A popular spot for traditional favorites such as hummus, baba ghanouj, cacik and mezza platters, Layaly regulars give high marks to the restaurant’s specialties including braised lamb shank and Layaly’s distinctive vegetarian moussaka, a delicious take on the traditional Greek meat and eggplant dish. Layaly also provides free delivery, making the Mediterranean dining experience feel more at home when you want to dine in.
2210 Fillmore St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
A local favorite since 1979, La Mediterranee has not only been serving scrumptious and authentic Mediterranean dishes for years, but also deliciously accommodates its diners on restricted diets with separate gluten-free, vegan and nut-free menus. There is a second San Francisco location on Noe Street in the Castro district where brunch is served on weekends. Both locations offer catering menus as well.
200 Jackson St.
San Francisco, CA 94111
Known for its wonderfully flavorful and mouthwatering Greek dishes, Kokkari is definitely a food lover’s destination, particularly when looking for something different yet comforting. Try a grilled octopus dish that one fan describes as “light and citrus-y,” grilled lamb riblets with lemon and oregano called Amisia Plevrakia or a charcoal-grilled rib-eye steak with braised greens and potatoes called Mosharisia Brizola. These dishes all have fan followings, as does the goat stew that likely is not a dish you often make at home.
1075 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Saha invites diners “to go on a culinary exploration with us,” as it serves Arabic-Fusion cuisine the restaurant describes as “a unique blend of Yemenese Arabic cuisine and boundary-pushing California cuisine with French hints mixed in for good measure.” With that description, you know something extraordinary is cooking at this intimate and secluded spot that truly has something for everyone. In addition to traditional Middle Eastern favorites like hummus and pita, baba ganoush, fire-roasted eggplant, kofta, mezza plates and bastilla, Saha serves meat, chicken, lamb and fish dishes, along with a variety of vegetarian specialties that are substantial meals full of spicy flavors. Vegetarian bastilla, veggie tagine and classic North African couscous are on the menu, plus dishes are tagged as vegetarian and/or gluten free, so you know what’s what before ordering. Salads at Saha are more than the usual suspects, as quinoa, kale, roasted tofu, couscous and pears make appearances as well. Visit the website to see the full menus and for more information.
700 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
Opened in 2011, this friendly and cozy spot in the city’s increasingly popular Lower Haight area serves Syrian cuisine, putting its own spin on the local Mediterranean food scene. Owner Mohammed Eltawil takes pride in offering authentic Syrian-style cuisine, with some of the best in Middle Eastern food flavors. Customers say Palmyra serves the best kabobs around, along with truly excellent Middle Eastern chicken, beef and vegetarian platters, plus traditional appetizers, soups and salads. Happily, Palmyra opens early for breakfast and closes relatively late for dinner. Order online for pick-up orders. Visit the website to download an iphone or android app to make ordering even more convenient.
Related: Best Sangria Spots In The North Bay