(Update, 9/20/2007. I’m sad to say that Mediterranean Spirit has closed.)

Nearly every week, you can bet on finding me at Mediterranean Spirit — a small, family-run restaurant at Polk and Bush in San Francisco. I was first lured into Mediterranean Spirit by some exuberant reviews on Chowhound, but I continue to return because I crave their delicious Middle Eastern cuisine.

Upon entering the restaurant, you will most likely be greeted by owner Khalil Aboudamous or his wife Lubna. If it’s the weekend, one of their children may be working behind the counter. This is a counter-service restaurant, so you can order and then take a seat where your food will be brought to you.

The Vegetarian Special ($7.95) is a good way to try out some of the best things that Mediterranean Spirit has to offer. Khalil makes the falafel balls fresh, which is something that he claims only occurs at a small handful of restaurants in town. I am a relatively new convert to baba ghanoush, and the baba served here is some of the best I’ve had, with a great balance of smoky eggplant to lemony acid. The dish is also served with dolmas, delicious hummus, and tabouleh salad.

The Kufta Kabab plate ($9.95) shown above is ground lamb on a skewer served with pita and couscous or rice. The lamb is delicious and grilled to order. Ask for a side of spicy red sauce, and it makes for a delicious combination all placed into a pita.

The shawerma platter is a large meal that is served with either chicken or a lamb/beef combination. The dish I order most often at Mediterranean Spirit is the chicken shawerma platter ($9.95) — the chicken is deliciously spiced and flavorful and is served with either couscous or rice. Both the couscous and rice are topped with a garbanzo bean sauce made with tomatoes, garbanzo beans and spices that is addictive and worth every trip to Mediterranean Spirit.

Both the shawerma and the kufta are available as wraps, which I see many people ordering to go during their work day.

Not only is this a great place to have a meal, but it’s an excellent restaurant from which to order food for a party. I recently had a small get-together at my house where I ordered baba ghanoush, dolmas, and falafel from Khalil and his wife. The cost was reasonable, and the dishes at the party were a hit.

The food here is very good, and that combined with the family-run atmosphere of the restaurant keep me returning on a consistent basis.

Mediterranean Spirit
1303 Polk Street (at Bush)
(415) 673-4900
Open Monday – Saturday, 10 am – 9 pm
Credit cards accepted

Mediterranean Spirit, San Francisco 10 April,2007Jennifer Maiser

  • marcia gagliardi

    wooo hoooo, someone else who has the spirit! I love this joint. hard. I get full-tilt physical cravings for it. (my favorite combo, which isn’t on the menu, is the chicken schwarma platter with hummus.) I also come by each week for a bag of their puffy pita bread for my sandwiches at home. so happy to see someone else spreading the word!

  • Michael Procopio

    You must be reading my mind. I went there for the first time last week for a kefta wrap. It’s only two blocks from my house, so I’ll be there quite often!

  • Jennifer Maiser

    Marcia – you’re right, the chicken with hummus is great too. What do they put in that chicken – pure crack?


    Michael – this place is totally close to your house. Now that you’ve discovered it I’ll probably run into you there.

  • shuna fish lydon

    this is exciting! I feel like you’ve posted the secret from your party… although I live no where even remotely close I imagine I will be getting there soon. (I was one of the lucky mouths from the party.)


Jennifer Maiser

“My passion for food began young.”

I am the editor of the influential website www.EatLocalChallenge.com which encourages readers to support local farmers and producers.

I began my personal website, Life Begins at 30, in 2003.

I have been published in Edible San Francisco and Fine Cooking, write regularly for Bay Area Bites, Serious Eats, and have been quoted in many nationwide publications. Photography is a passion, and I have had photos printed in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

I contributed to a Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking from the Farmers’ Market, which was released in February 2010.

I live in San Francisco, California and can often be found at local farmers markets seeking out the best of what’s in season and chatting with farmers.

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