138 Church St., San Francisco
Open Tue–Sun 11am–10pm
Enjoy Quality, Homestyle Arabic Dishes at the New Beit Rima
There’s nothing like being greeted at a fast-casual place with a complimentary cup of hot, sweet, minty black tea and kindly asked to take a seat with “Don’t worry, I will take your order at the table.” The hospitality at Beit Rima (“Rima’s House”) is matched by the delightfully and deliciously homey food, which is proudly proclaimed as “Arabic comfort food” on the business sign and logo. It’s an homage to chef-owner Samir Mogannam’s mother and her wonderful cooking (she is originally from Jordan), although he has quite the cooking pedigree himself from cooking at Aziza, Tawla, and Dyafa.
The location was previously Burgermeister, and his father, Paul Mogannam, was the founder of Burgermeister, who is retiring and passing it on to his son. The tables are now covered in green and white checkered tablecloths, with classic wood spindle chairs, and there are hanging houseplants and other residential décor touches throughout the space. The only thing that isn’t welcoming is how chilly it is inside, so don’t forget your jacket.
The menu is built to share, but you can easily come for a solo meal of the chicken shish tawook plate ($12), with tender, grilled bites of yogurt-marinated chicken with “mom’s rice,” charred onion and red pepper, toum (Lebanese garlic sauce), hummus, pickles (plus beet-pickled turnips), and a half of warm and lightly fluffy pita. Mom would also want you to eat your greens, so get the fattoush ($8) salad, which comes with charred dates and a kicky dressing with pomegranate vinegar.
Mezze include a warm bowl of ful (fava beans), mashed with garlic, olive oil, and lemon, with a little bit of chickpeas ($7); you can order a supplement of a soft egg on top, and it comes with pita. The flavorful hummus was silky with nutty notes of tahini and there’s the option to get it with ground and spiced beef on top along with some pine nuts ($12), another dip you’ll want to scoop up with the warm pita. There’s shakshuka all day, falafel, beef kabobs, vegetables from Mariquita Farm for dipping, and more mezze, plus muhalabbia milk pudding for dessert, and nothing is over $14. You’ll be well-fed and doted on, which will bring you back as quickly as the good food will.
A Quintessential Neighborhood Place: Tadu Ethiopian Kitchen
Tadu Ethiopian Kitchen
484 Ellis St., San Francisco
Open daily 11:30am–9pm
Nestled right in the heart of the Tenderloin is Tadu Ethiopian Kitchen, a popular stop for some theater-goers who are okay with walking through a couple of the neighborhood’s scruffier blocks for a meal. Husband-and-wife Elias and Nani Shawel have created a colorful spot you can’t ignore, with artwork on the bright mandarin orange walls. Inside, there are just a handful of tables, with couples and friends sharing plates of tibs (chicken, lamb, or beef) and scooping up kitfo (buttery chopped beef, usually served on the rare side — we ordered ours medium rare and it came out perfectly) with spongy and tangy injera bread from baskets on a counter.
The menu is full of vegetarian and vegan options, like chickpeas with turmeric and ginger; collard greens with ginger, garlic and onions; and lentils. Don’t miss the vegetarian combination hiding in the specialty entrées section, which includes kik alicha wot (chickpeas), misir wot (split lentils), gomen (collard greens), alicha tikil gomen (cabbage, potatoes, and carrots), plus some salad and buticha (mashed chickpea), a full spread for just $12.95. They even offer gluten-free injera for an extra $3. Portions are hearty — two people will have more than enough to eat by ordering one dish each. Hopefully you’re dining with someone who likes to share — and eat with their hands — because everything comes out on a big plate that you eat from communally.
Everything tasted very homemade and freshly made, with tender meat morsels, but the flavors didn’t have the pop of Berbere (spice mix) like I’ve had at other places. It ends up you need to tell your server to really bring the flava, otherwise they keep things pretty tame. Even our spicy kitfo came out pretty mellow. When the owner saw I was seeking more than the little bowl of Berbere spice he brought over, he told me the next time I should request the kulet: here, it’s a deeply savory and thickened onion sauce, almost a paste, loaded with Berbere that they can cook into your dishes. Ah ha! That’s the stuff. So now you know.
This location doesn’t have any alcohol, but you can try telba, a slippery-textured drink made with ground flax seeds and honey. While I wouldn’t call this place a destination, if I was looking for something homey and affordable (and vegetarian) in the neighborhood, it fits the bill. There is a newer and brighter location in Mission Bay as well.
Causwells Launches a Monthly Guest Chef Burger
Guest Burger Series (monthly)
2346 Chestnut St., San Francisco
Causwells in the Marina already makes one of the best double cheeseburgers in town, but now it’s truly double trouble since they just introduced a guest burger series. Every month, they will feature a rotating burger special from favorite restaurants throughout the Bay Area. For February, the burger collaboration features a burger with chef Telmo Faria of Uma Casa and Piri Pica: the OG Mosto Burger (double smash patties, Oaxaca cheese, poblanos, spicy serrano aioli, pickled red onion). You can get the burger for $16.95. Upcoming burgers include March with Che Fico and April with Prospect.
Get Your Cheese on at This Annual Weekend Festival
California Artisan Cheese Festival
Various Sonoma and Marin County locations