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Jul 28, 2006 12:29 AM

Mediterranean Spirit on Polk St., SF?

Not wanting jaybee's rave for the "real heavy as lead, oil laden hummus" to get lost in the shwarma topic, I'm starting this new thread.

What else is good at Mediterranean Spirit?

jaybee's post

Meditterranean (sic) Spirit, 1303 Polk St, SF, 415-673-4900.

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  1. I had a falafel sandwich that was spicy and freshly made. Been wanting to go back so I can blog about it...

    Here's a picture:

    1. Jaybee’s enthusiastic description of the hummus caught my attention. You know, it is excellent and addictive. To me it was not at all like the description ...

      “this is the only place outside of Israel or the Palestinian Authority that I've seen making real hummus. If you've been to the middle east, then you know what I'm talking about. If not, there is no way to describe real heavy as lead, oil laden hummus, except that what you're getting here ain't it ... this place is all about the hummus ... For simple, exquisitely spiced middle eastern food, pay Mediterranean Spirit a visit. Order the best hummus this side of Abu Ghosh and Salat Turkiye”

      I didn’t find it heavy as lead at all, but deeply flavorful with the nutty garbanzo beans. There was some golden oil around the edge and it was sprinkled with fresh green parsely and paprika (?). It is really good ... this is the first hummus I ever really liked ... ok, Aziza’s spreads ... but that is a different thing.

      It was even better the next day with a satisfying texture.

      The shawerma didn't look that great, but I'm no expert in this area. However, some of the food plates at the other tables looked delicious.

      They have daily lunch specials. Some of the usual food.

      Some other appetizers they have are:
      Fool Mudamas (fava beans)
      Mousabeha (?)
      side of pickles, chili, pepper & olives ($1.25)
      A special of the day and soup of the day
      Turkish salad
      Regular or Arabic coffee
      Regular or mint tea

      It is a little bare-bones shop that is spiffed up with a few decorative hookas and pictures of the food on the wall. The large windows give the shop a sunny look and there are two sidewalk tables. I liked the vibe

      The people are very nice too.

      It is located on Polk between Pine and Bush ... right near Snob and Chai-ya.

      A sign said the food is Kosher & Halal.

      You know, I say I'll go back to alot of places meaning if I was in the neighorhood, I'd be there. I probably really will go back to Mediterrean Spirit and try some of their other food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rworange

        As much as I agree that it is hard to get good Hummus outside of the middle east, I'm extremely happy with the options at "Old Jerusalem". Sadly I didn't manage to eat at Mediterranean Spirit so I can't compare. But the mission version is very similar to what you can get in the old city, it's is the "heavy" version ,i.e. you can flip the plate upside down without losing anything.., but real Hummus lovers (I was born and raised in Israel) would really appreciate it.

      2. Picked up a chicken shawerma and large hummus at Mediterranean Spirit tonight. Both were very good. The shawerma was a simple combo of chicken, grilled onions, seasonings, and pickled cabbage (looks like pickled cabbage anyway, but would be interested to know if this is something else -- red, thin, pickled strings?). This was served on lavash and lightly grilled; think next time I might request a slightly longer grill time, though I did drive it all the way back to Dolores Park before eating it. Very flavorful and comforting, without any excess moisture (my common complaint for many Bay Area shawerma). The chicken was a bit on the dry side, but the heavy dose of grilled onions made up for this some. Overall I'd probably take this over any other SF shawerma save perhaps Yumma's (which I also tried for the first time last week).

        The Mediterranean Spirit shawerma has a hearty and substantial feel to it that makes it difficult to compare to Yumma's, which was lighter fare with tomatoes and cucumber rolled in.
        I think what I really missed was some kind of garlic yogurt option, but otherwise it was quite delicious. Still contend that Truly Med on 16th St is WAY overrated, and I'd definitely prefer this MS shawerma to the TM offering.

        Hummus was also excellent, and I agree with 'rworange' that it didn't seem unusually heavy. Very tastey, with a vibrant chickpea flavor that seemed less obscured than usual. Am looking forward to enjoying more as breakfast tomorrow.

        Got a good laugh at the colorful chalkboard menu, which on its lower right corner indicates -- and I quote verbatim --
        "No Pita To Go". (!) Ordered the shawerma and the hummus and then paused and asked the friendly scarfed cashier "Err... Is it really not possible to take pita out of the restaurant???".
        Apparently the posting is intended to discourage customers from asking for free "extra" pita, or so I gathered from her
        explanation. I feel like a bit of an ass in hindsight, but the language _is_ ambiguous...

        And I second both of the earlier posters that the staff really do seem like a great bunch of folks. I was the only customer in the shop at around 7:30 tonight, and while I waited I was kept entertained by rapid fire Arabic interchange between the cashier and smiley chef. Have no idea what they were saying, but it sounded like they were having a good time. And as I was leaving some [apparently] familiar Middle Eastern music came through their portable stereo, and an older woman -- also part of the staff I'm guessing -- began dancing enthusiastically, as did the man who prepared my shawerma.
        Seemed very spontaneous rather than crafted for the customer.
        Really a pleasant bunch of folks.

        Will definitely be going back.


        3 Replies
        1. re: jflesh

          A happy ending to the shawerma saga! Thanks for the post. I hope those red pickled strings were slivers of pickled turnips 'cause that's what I like on mine.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Well, I'm not gonna call the saga over just yet, but I'm defnitely happy to have some new -- and better -- options on the table thanks to suggestions here. Will likely be trying those South Bay shawerma suggestions in the next couple of weeks too.

            Would make sense flavor-wise that the red pickled strings would be turnips, though usually when I've had the pickled turnips (like at Zankou in LA), they're thicker pinky-finger size pieces. The MS shawerma last night had what literally looked like grated cabbage, i.e. very thin long red pieces. Am guessing maybe this is grated turnip? Either way, it was good...


            1. re: jflesh

              Splendid! That's the spirit, the quest for better and more delicious chow is never over.

              Ziryab thread and shawerma report -

        2. No update. Googling to find this topic for another question, I came across the website which has a picture of the place, a little info and only a few of their menu items. It seems there is the intention to open more restaurants. Any updates?

          2 Replies
          1. re: rworange

            I just ate at Mediterranean Spirit for the first time tonight...I hadn't even read about it here, and I was about to post, and when I googled I found this thread. So i'm posting here instead!

            This place seems great....I had the lamb/beef shwarema sandwich. Inside a lavash wrap came the meat, pickled purple cabbage, homemade hummos!, tahini, sumac and hot sauce....that might have been it. The meat had great flavor, overall this was a terrific sandwich. The people there were super friendly, I'm excited to try more things soon!

            Dave MP

            1. re: Dave MP

              I've had the falafel here, good enough that I'd try more from the menu.