Restaurant Review: Middle-Eastern, San Francisco, California

Tawla


First, ask for two orders of flatbread. Soft, warm and yeasty-rich, with a crisp wheat-bran crust on the bottom, the loaves will disappear alongside an order of the rich, tangy fava-based ful medames. Ful is a transnational dish, a spread prepared in various ways from Lebanon to Egypt. Tawla’s food is similarly transnational in its reach, drawing inspiration from all over the eastern Mediterranean and welcoming distinctly Californian contributions, like a salad based around fresh Early Girl tomatoes. Tawla is owned by Azhar Hashem, who grew up in Amman, Jordan, studied business at Berkeley’s Haas School and built a successful career in marketing at Google before leaving the tech world to open her restaurant. She brought on former Delfina chef Joseph Magidow to take charge of the kitchen. Wine director Shaundon Castonguay fills the one-page list with affordable wines that subtly elevate Tawla’s Middle Eastern flavors, from Andrea Felici’s rich, mineral Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi to Copain syrah from nearby Mendocino County. You’ll also find a few older vintages of Château Musar, in case your party of four needs something special to drink alongside the leg of lamb with three sauces.

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