Underrepresented national cuisines in the SFBA

I’m guessing there isn’t a large market for Albanian food in the Bay Area. Per Wikipedia:

As of 2015, the areas with the largest population of Americans with Albanian descent are New York City, Indianapolis, Northern New Jersey, Philadelphia, Boston, Worcester, Chicago, Detroit, Hartford, and Waterbury, Connecticut.[citation needed]

The rapidly growing Albanian population of Lincoln Park, New Jersey, within the New York City Metropolitan Area, is the second largest outside of New York City itself, and is expanding into nearby locations in Passaic County, including Pompton Lakes, Wayne, and Totowa. Additionally, Bergen County is home to an increasing Albanian population, with communities being found in towns including Garfield, Elmwood Park,

Well, as intrigued as I am by Albanian food it’s really not worth going back to Bergen County to look for it. I spent 8 hellish years there already.

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I think you’ve just displayed a subconscious yearning.

And Flying Falafel (on Market St). They even have real amba (sour/spicy pickled mango sauce).

An article from Berkeleyside about the Lao scene in the East Bay:

Thanks. I’ve been to the Lao-Thai Kitchen, but I couldn’t tell which dishes were Lao. This article gives some good pointers.

More importantly, Nuri’s also has Salteñas - which are Bolivia’s prized possession! i haven’t tried them there yet, shamefully, as a Bolivian, but a friend has and loved them.

Also, don’t know if i missed it but Arabian Nights in the Mission also has Lebanese dishes.

And i’m planning on going to Prubechu next week, will report back.

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Sadly Zosia cafe (Polish) in Graton has closed

Bel closed recently, and I can’t say I miss it much. The one time I tried it I felt like the food was poor value, and once burned, I wasn’t eager to return to see if there was any improvement. The owners (also own Pi Bar) know good beer, but their approach to food has been hit and miss.

Frjtz is quasi-Belgian with the frites and moules and crepes, but mostly it’s sort of fusiony pub food with burgers and the 20 different choices of sriracha/curry/avocado mayo.


Greek food isn’t exactly a great cuisine, and as you infer, most Greek places are the fast/casual low–end type. In the EBay those budget places abound, such as Troy Greek, Rojbas, Athenian Deli. Even Ikaros/Oakland, one of the better Greek places, is variable; it’s best when the owner is there but even so, every time we go the avgolemono is slightly different – keeps life interesting, I guess.

If you are willing to broaden the category to Greek/Turkish/generic Mediterranean, there are four we’d recommend:

Tannourine/San Mateo. The only real competitor to Kokkari (the latter we feel is vastly overrated now, having gone in May with a large party and been rather disappointed. It was a lot better when it first opened, or even 7–8 yrs ago, than now). Tannourine is one of the prettiest DRs, and the food is good.

Ba–Bite/Oakland. If you’re talking hummus, salads, and the true Mediterranean diet, you can’t do better than this place. Note it is geared to mostly take–out. Dining is bare-bones altho it’s adequate, but it has the ambiance of a brightly painted closet. Forget the early reviews lauding “brightly colored chairs”; now it’s all bench seating around oddly narrow tables. But it’s all about the food, and Ba–Bite makes possibly the best falafel you’ve ever had. My DH doesn’t even like the stuff, but we fought over the last one! “Made from scratch” actually has real meaning here.

The last two are Turkish, which has many similarities to Greek cuisine (as even my Turkish friends will reluctantly admit):

Tarla Grill/Napa. Excellent food in downtown Napa. One of the very few Turkish restaurants my friend and her family willingly return to eat at.

Lokanta/Pleasanton. New branch in WCreek just opened, have not tried that location. The talus is excellent, and don’t miss the yogurt/honey dessert. One of the best versions in the Bay Area.

There is one Greek/Italian restaurant that is pretty run-of-the-mill, except for 2 Greek dishes that are outstanding. Everything else is okay (pasta is old–fashioned mushy, for example) but for some reason, these two dishes rock at Gold Coast/Alameda:
– Lamb shank. It’s small so you can actually finish it, falling off the bone tender, in a tasty tomato-based sauce.
– Galaktoboureko, the custard-filled phyllo dessert. We try this everywhere but it’s always disappointing…except for Gold Coast. It’s made fresh, served warm, and is simply amazing.


A Bulgarian coworker who has been to Evvia in Palo Alto laughed at, according to him, the so-called Greek food there. He brushed it off and said that its not Greek, for the reason that the menu has so many beef dishes made for the American palate.

A Greek family I know suggested Evvia as the best around. When asked the next best one around the area (South Bay), they suggested The Greek Spot of Sunnyvale. I have never been. I believe they are from Thessaloniki if that matters. Though I don’t know if any restaurants around here serve a non-generic enough Greek menu to have any regional focus…

Great list. Thanks for the recs. If one is to focus on Turkish food only, would you say your recs are still Tarla/ Lokanta?

What’s wrong with Kokkari nowadays? I haven’t been in probably 15 years though I remember it was good back then. The last time I went to Evvia was 4, 5 years ago. It was a business dinner, with the group getting some generic apps and I didn’t order the mains that looked interesting for cost reasons, so I couldn’t form much of an opinion.

A new profile of the Royal Egyptian Food Truck. Apparently he now resurfaced in Berkeley.


Your wish is coming true. The first Georgian restaurant in the Bay Area is coming to, wait for it, and make sure you’ve swallowed your food, a block from University Avenue in Palo Alto! (reported by Elena Kadvany of Palo Alto Online That surely must be the weirdest combination of cuisine and location in the history of Bay Area restaurants.

I really wish Mr. Sirotin well, though I worry about the sky-high rent, absurd Palo Alto permitting process, unfamiliar cuisine and an inexperienced restaurateur. Hope he’s able to carve out a niche among the uninspiring options around University Avenue and be recognized and rewarded for it.

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Woot, Christmas is merry this year!

Come to think of it Moscow Tsibillis in the Outer Richmond has some Georgian items.

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Have you checked out this place in Sunnyvale:

I thought a couple of their veg items were pretty good, although I dont really like falafel itself, so no strong comments there [falafel is always “bad to ok” for me and this was at the upper en of my range].

Due to the nature of the occasion, I didnt try any meat items.

No comment on authenticity, just an endorsement of good taste/flavor.


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I finally made it to Tannourine and the server explained that the chef came from the town of Tannourine, Lebanon. So it seems like the food is more ‘generic Med/ Lebanese’, and the place seems to be a popular dining spots for Arabic extended families.

What defines a superior one? For some reasons all the falafels around taste pretty similar to me, i.e. pretty savory, nicely fried. I haven’t had Ba-bite, however.

Chef Pelle is a caterer who does both Swedish and Norwegian food. He previously operated the Nordic Food Truck which I wrote about here.


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New one in Hayward- Golden Safari !

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