Tahini has been open for a little over two years (how do I miss these things?) and may be giving some of our other Middle Eastern eateries a run for their money (pretty ballsy, if you ask me, to park yourself practically across the street from Old Jerusalem!) It is fast food done right, in a homey way. The space seems to be a lighthearted ode to felines, with brightly colored, exotic murals painted by local artists (and one from Australia!) and cat videos on the t.v. screen.
Owner/chef Monti Majthoub told me he likes them because they make people laugh. Majthoub is Syrian/Lebanese, but grew up in Madrid, and speaks fluent Spanish to his small kitchen staff, who help him prepare typical and tasty Middle Eastern dishes.
On our first visit, the BF and I inquired about the various combinations pictured above the counter. The problem is that there’s no listing of the different components of each combo — Majthoub has to tell you what’s in each one. He rattled off the items in the BF’s The Big Classic:
I know there’s luscious lamb kabob in there, a fantastic hummus, some rice, tzatziki, a couple of salads, and a wonderfully smoky baba ganoush. Chicken, too. And powerfully garlicky toum to pour over the whole shebang. All of it tasted fresh to me, the meats juicy and flavorful. And as you can see, portions are huge. BF wasn’t as thrilled as I was. Is he ever?
My Kitchen Sink was no less hefty:
I got the same tasty accoutrements, but with lamb and beef koftes (the BF’s favorite!), which were also incredibly juicy. All the food was cooked to order but came out relatively fast. The only thing missing was falafel and pita! Next time.
We’d noticed that a lot of people were picking up their food already made, to-go, and Caviar delivery orders seem to make up a good portion of Tahini’s business. “But then you don’t get to watch the cat videos!!” I whined to the BF. Nevertheless, the next time, I went and picked up our food for take-out.
What’s the old saying? You always get screwed at the drive-thru? They messed up our order a little bit. The BF wanted falafel, pita, hummus, rice, and kofte. The closest dish they had to that came with chicken as well, plus salads, but Majthoub said he would substitute extra rice for the salads, which the BF wasn’t crazy about last time.
When I got the food home, there was, sadly, no pita, which he’d been dying to try. And no chicken (which he didn’t care about anyway). Instead, we got two falafel which, for me, were overdone; I like them a little more on the golden-brown side.
I had the falafel shawarma.
Tasty and veggie-heavy, but again, the falafel were cooked too dark for me. The biggest disappointment, however, was that I’d also ordered a side of zaatar fries for us to share — I was stoked to try these — Fries! Zaatar! Together at last! Unfortunately, they didn’t make it home with me either. Insert sad emoji.
I did call Tahini, just to let them know about the mistake, although I didn’t intend on going back for the missing items nor try to get my money back (it turned out that they hadn’t actually charged me for the food we hadn’t received, just omitted it.) To his credit, Monti was very apologetic and said the blame was all on him.
I’d never hold a mistake or two like that against a place. There seem to be many repeat customers who get their orders right, every evening. And besides, I need to go back and try those fries! They’ve become my holy grail.
Fresh food, inexpensive, and cat videos. What’s not to love?
2859 Mission St. (Between 24th St. & 25th St.)