Enjoyed my babaganoush from Oren’s last week. Smoky, garlicky eggplant goodness (and I don’t even like eggplant). What are other sources of great baba ganoush around the Bay Area? Thanks!
Having moved from NYC not too long ago, the dearth of middle eastern/meditteraean restaurants that can serve a reasonable shawarma and typical sides like babaganoush. The latter just does not seem to exist on restaurant menus, in SF, at least.
Complaint aside, the last one I tried was at Truly Meditteraean on 16th just west of Valencia and found that to be average, don’t remember why now as it was last year. I also awkwardly asked about the food background and if it was Greek or somewhere else and was told Palestine.
Also, just learned per Wikipedia that baba ganoush is traditionally made with other vegetables while the version with such eggplant(+seasoning) is called muttabal. This is not the definition that I’ve come to know and not the prevailing one in NYC from experience.
serves me right for trying to respond at 4am… meant to say that the dearth of such restaurants is sad, and that muttabal is just eggplant and seasoning.
on that note, has anyone smoked eggplant in a smoker like a weber smokey mountain? what’s the temp/timing?
I love the range of eggplant products at Oren’s.
Royal Market on Geary in SF makes a good baba ganoush. Their hummus is also excellent, and they sell a homemade pita-like bread that I think is Armenian. One stop shopping!
Just picked up some baba ganoush from Oasis Market in Oakland the other day, along w/ some still-hot fresh pita. It has a nice smokiness, and I recommend it. I really like this place and want to try more of the food, though the stuffed grape leaves I got were fine but nothing special.
For SF, try for shawarma Old Jerusalem (though the kalaya lamb sauté and half a chicken on housemade bread are killer) in the Mission and Goood Frikin Chicken in La Lengua (excellent hummus too). They unfortunately use lavash for the sandwiches, which is why I prefer doner at Turkish places instead.
Yeah, Truly med’s baba ghanoush is watery, not smokey, and pretty bland. I don’t think much of their shawarma or falafel either.
I’ve been by GFC once omw to the UPS store and Coles I’m that hood and it was tempting but had just eaten beforehand.
I will be reasonably happy when the Halal Guys open up in the TL. Just to have that option by work will be sanity-inducing - my first experience with SF halal was Oasis Grill on Battery? Still scars me to this day.
I just had a falafel plate at Kobani in Berkeley (University & MLK) that came with sides of tabouli, hummus and pretty good baba ganoush. Their shwarma/gyro is excellent, with stacked meat on the vertical spit instead of the usual Kronos mystery meat. Sorry, hyperbowler, they use lavash in their wraps, and it’s also excellent, warm, flaky and slightly crisp from the grill.
Ooh, good tip! I shop there fairly frequently, but have never tried their hummous or babaganoush. That Armenian pita-ish bread is quite good.
And I’m a huge sucker for their lamb lula…
ETA: I used to love the babaganoush at the late lamented Haig’s. I gather they have some supermarket distribution, although the store is gone; I can’t vouch for it, but it’s probably worth a try.
I wish I liked GFC because I live so close to it. But there’s nothing there I like. The falafel has no flavor at all. The chicken is dry and withered.
Palmyra in the Lower Haight is really good–I haven’t been there in a while, but their falafel sandwiches are fantastic and cheap.
Truly Mediterranean is the typical crap Middle Eastern food in SF. Watery hummus made without any tahini in evidence, dry thin pita that can’t hold its contents, cheap sauces. In short, drunk food for 16th and Valencia.
Old Jerusalem has great baba ganoush. Smoky, fresh and just the way it should be. Their hummus, musabaha, lentil soup etc are all great. Nice thick pita. Falafel stuffed with pine nuts and onions. I’ve heard mixed reports on the shawarma, but never tried it (although I mostly don’t trust the reports of others when it comes to middle eastern food). My one gripe is their soggy french fries.
I was very disappointed with Palmyra. I was really hoping it would be great, but it wasn’t. Hummus was decent. Mejedra, a dish of rice, lentils and fried onions, was steamed to death in its soggy, flavorless entirety, with no sign of any of it having ever been fried. It’s not hard to avoid that, and to add the fried onions immediately prior to serving. All it takes is knowing how to make the dish properly and caring enough to make the small effort required.
If you’re near Oren’s, check out Med Wraps. I like their baba ganoush. Not sure if I like it better than Oren’s. Probably not.
Sajj is getting popular. I don’t think much of them.
I’m fairly happy with Med Grill House on Castro. Again, Oren’s is probably better.
Others worth trying: Cafe Baklava on castro is more sit-down. Ephesus is pretty good, also more sit down.
I liked a place on Broadway ( Paradise ), but they closed.
Tried Old Jerusalem for take out this past Saturday, thought the baba ganoush tahini:eggplant ratio was way off for me - mostly tahibi and not nearly enough eggplant, smoke level was medium - I prefer mostly eggplant or maybe all eggplant?! versions.
Additionally, the sharmwa was mediocre and dry, though it did it sit in a container, in a plastic bag for about 20 minutes while I hunted for a bottle of cointreau. Other menu items seem appetizing so will have to make a trip back for sit down perhaps.
Will need to try GFC and Royal Market now.
You’re most likely to find it without [or with minimal] tahini at Greek, Turkish or Armenian places. Same goes for hummus if you’re looking for the kind without much tahini and heavier on the lemon juice and garlic.
I just had baba ghanoush at Ali Baba’s Cave that was delightfully smoky. Valencia and 19th.
Also, their shawerma (beef/lamb) was one of the juicier ones i’ve had.
I was surprised, as that place doesn’t look like much, but it’s been around over 30 years.
Timing is dependent on size, put them on grill whole and blacken/char the skin, turning as needed. Direct cooking is better for this than a true smoker. Grill over real wood and you’ll be very happy.
The best baba ganoush I’ve had in the Bay Area was from Aladdin Gourmet on E. Hillsdale near Saratoga in San Mateo but my last time was probably 5 years ago.