Many years ago I had the pleasure of visiting Israel. I was a young boy, and it was my first experience with easy purchase of beer (whenever I bought falafel from a street vendor). Perhaps the perfect combination on a sweltering day.
Finding good middle-eastern food is much harder than it ought to be, IMHO. But try as I might, I know of only two places which seem at all authentic and are satisfying to me. The one closest to home is Truly Mediterranean, in the Mission.
The falafel here is stunning, always freshly-made (and not sitting around for days at a time, like some of those other places we all know about). But that’s not even my main infatuating with the place. The lamb shawerma, wrapped in a thin lavosh bread with broiled tomatoes, seasoned onions, and finger-lickingly good tahini sauce, is what brings me back again and again. (They do a chicken shawerma on Tuesdays & Fridays, which is good, but nothing like the lamb.) Their kefta kabab (seasoned ground lamb and sirloin) is charbroiled and served like the shawerma; also great.
Vegetarians are welcome too. Their Mediterranean combo plate has falafel, hummus, baba, tabouleh, cucumber salad, dolmas, feta cheese, seasoned onions, tahini sauce, and pita bread. All are great. The hummos (garbonzo bean dip, although it’s way better than it sounds in English) is stunning.
I haven’t covered the entire menu, but that ought to be enough to get you running on over. Oh, wait! I almost forgot. Their garlic mint yoghurt drink just blows me away, and I hated the description for years and avoided it. My mistake. A life without garlic yoghurt drink is a life not lived.
Truly Mediterranean / 3109 16th Street @ Valencia St. / +.1.415.252.7482 (PITA)