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Best Shawarma in SF?

Who's got the best? I've read some good things about Taboun on Yelp.

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  1. I would definitely throw Old Jerusalem into the discussion.

    Old Jerusalem
    2976 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    2 Replies
    1. re: Calvinist

      I went to Old Jerusalem about a year ago and my notes are "Shawarma was just OK, service was not very interested. It's definitely not on my list to go back.

      1. re: Mick Ruthven

        Concur, definitely concur.

        Chicken shwarma was good, tho.

    2. Truly Mediterranean.

      Truly Mediterranean
      3109 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Wow. I just realized that this is the place I used to eat at waaaay back in the day when I worked at Muddy Waters. The owners were friends of my bosses, and so I was hipped to TM early on.

        Amazing food. I've only ever had shwarma there, but it was really, really tasty. I wish to god I still lived in SF...

      2. I second Old Jerusalem - everything I've had there is top notch. Best hummus in town, btw.

        1. Having been to both Truly Med and Old Jerusalem several times -- but Old Jerusalem a greater # of times for logistical reasons -- I'd say Truly Med is the better of the two for shawarma.

          3 Replies
          1. re: vinchar

            Based on just the shawarma, I would agree that TM is better than OJ. However, at OJ you can actually sit down in a relatively pleasant environment and the various spreads and sides that they prepare are excellent. So it really depends on what you are in the mood for.

            BTW, between TM and OJ are Ali Baba's on Valencia St. (@19th?) and Zanes on 24th (between Mission and Valencia), neither is nearly as good as either TM or OJ. However, there is a new Shawarma place opening across from City College on Valencia Street -- It could be a contender.

            1. re: SFDude

              I believe Zanes is closed or something.

              1. re: xanadude

                I walked by it yesterday and the space is definitely under going extensive renovations; unclear whether Zanes is going to reopen or whether something new is coming in.

          2. Ali Baba's on Haight has fantastic falafel, and the Shwarma is very tasty, but the lamb is sometimes badly edited and may contain gristle. They also have chicken Shwarma, but why bother?

            1 Reply
            1. re: mr_morcilla

              Chicken shawerma, if properly grilled and seasoned, is as good as any lamb or beef version. I've heard Taboun's chicken shawerma is very good. In Montreal, where Lebanese dominates the Middle Eastern cuisine, chicken is the most popular embodiment (event though they unaccountably call it shish taouk). Ditto New York, where "chicken and rice" carts are a popular term for the Halal street food vendors, even though they also offer lamb (one of the chicken rice carts won the Vendy award for street food vendors in 2006).

            2. I'm a Truly Mediterranean fan. It's approaching institution status at this point, the food is very consistent and high quality for the price.

              I have tried Taboun based on people's recommendations and I didn't like it at all. It was too wet and sloppy and I didn't like the meat (I had the chicken). Overall it wasn't flavorful enough. Maybe I should have tried the Lamb?

              1. What about the place on Irving around 7th or thereabouts? I can't remember the name. It's been a few years since I've been there, but I always liked it, even if one of the owners tends to be kind of cranky.

                1 Reply
                1. re: maigre

                  irving && 7th = Yumma's.
                  yeah, it's ok.

                  my consistently favorite sh'ma place was the RIP truly med on upper haight.

                  right now i think variable quality makes for no clear winner, so among
                  the "acceptable" places, i just go by convenience [location, hours, parking] ...
                  i think prices are pretty similar.

                  i probably go to truly med in the misson most often due to late hours,
                  location and yogurt drink.

                2. Yumma's is good real schwarma (as opposed to the schwarma roll many places use).
                  Gyro King on Grove is also excellent.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: sugartoof

                    I tried the shawarma at Yumma's last summer and thought it didn't have much flavor or substance. It was a loser to me.

                    1. re: Mick Ruthven

                      It's some of the most authentic I've had in SF.... what most places serve really isn't schwarma.

                      Where do you prefer?

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        My favorite is still at Aram's in Petaluma, owned by an Armenian family.


                        1. re: Mick Ruthven

                          I went to Aram's for lunch today and had their chicken shawarma. I thought the place deserved its own thread, especially since this one is really about shawarma in San Francisco. Take a drive north and check out Aram's.


                          1. re: Mick Ruthven

                            Looks good. Is it on the fatty side, or did you order the chicken schwarma? Hard to tell from the pics. I'd hope Yumma's isn't the best in the Bay Area by the way... but for SF, it's a candidate.

                            Sometimes I wish this forum split San Francisco, from the Bay Area the way they do Manhattan from the outer burroughs.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              It was Monday and that's their day for chicken shawarma. It's hard to see what's what in the pics because of the other stuff there, but it had large chunks of chicken in it. I just love their spicing, but am not enough of a cook to know what the flavors are from.

                        2. re: sugartoof

                          Just Curious, what makes it real Schwarma. I don't notice a difference between Yumma's and other places in terms of it being "real."

                          1. re: virtualguthrie

                            It's the lamb product they use. Most places are using a prefab roll instead of cooking it for entire days to get it ready.

                            Also, if it looks like a gyro meat, then tasty as that stuff is, it's not real shwarma.

                    2. recently Sunrise Deli on irving at 22nd won for best falafel in the sf weekly, but they've won me over with there shawarma. it's not wrapped burrito style and it has a much meatier flavor (which i have a feeling might be related to the slow cooked style mention recently) The falafel isn't too shabby either. very crunchy outside, and soft inside, a bit of spice to it.