Photo by Maria Ascarrunz

Reem’s California is a fast-casual restaurant serving Lebanese street food that opened in the Mission just before the pandemic started, and then began offering big family platters of food once the shutdown hit – too much food for our little household of two.

But recently, Reem’s California started offering its regular menu again, so I decided we needed to try this newest Lebanese addition to the neighborhood.

BF got the lahm bi ajeen, a flatbread with ground beef, tomato and red pepper, yogurt and lemon. It was tasty, with a slightly sour flavor to the beef I couldn’t identify. I ordered the La Gringa, which is like an Arabic version of Tijuana’s quesabirria. Instead of a tortilla, it’s a toasted bread (almost bagel-like), densely packed with sesame seeds and stuffed with meltingly tender, juicy, slow-cooked lamb, Oaxacan cheese, pickled onions, and served with a mild lamb dipping broth (like the quesabirria’s consommé).  You must get this sandwich.

We also had the mutabal shamandar to share: a beet dip with tahini, garlic, serrano chiles and cilantro, served with pita. Next to my sandwich, this was the best dish – a bit sweet, with a resemblance to hummus because of the tahini, with a nice, fresh bite of coriander. I used the leftovers for a couple of weeks on eggs and other things.

We also split a fattoush salad: greens, tomato, cucumber, radish, red onion, herbs and fried pita chips. Unfortunately, the pita chips were rock-hard, though they softened a little in the citrusy dressing.

So many things to try here.  There’s an Arab brunch, featuring dishes like shakshuka, falafel, and a couple of sweet knafe dishes, plus mimosas.  On the all-day menu, I’m eager to try the cheese man’ouche, a sumac chicken flatbread, a beet and kishik salad, and old favorites like hummus, muhamarra, and baba ghanouj.

Let’s all reward another business daring to stay open during these trying times!  The rewards will be delicious as well as adding to the continued restoration of our neighborhood.

Our takeout feast.

Reem’s California
2901 Mission St.
(415) 780-1953

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15 Comments

  1. We got takeout from here to eat with a friend who spend several years living in Lebanon and Egypt. She was skeptical at first, and then blown away. Similarly, some friends who keep halal are practically ready to move from the Sunset just to be closer.

    I still miss Mission Pie, but… wow. What a terrific replacement.

  2. The sumac chicken flatbread is amazing. And for dessert I recommend the workers wreath. Such a good addition to the neighborhood!

  3. I used to Love Reem’s. At one point, several months ago, I noticed a quote on the top of their website attributed to Rasmea Odeh. I was curious who this person was so I did a little research. It turns out she was a Palestinian freedom fighter convicted for her role in the murder of two Israeli students in 1969, ages 21 and 22. I was appalled that Reem’s would choose to highlight such a figure. So, no- In good conscience, I can’t support a restaurant that seemingly endorses such people.

    1. Thanks for letting me know about them supporting Rasmea Odeh. I will definitely be checking our Reem’s now! Free Palestine.

    2. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated Rasmea Odeh’s conviction because her confession was made after she was tortured for weeks by Israeli military authorities. She is a symbol of the injustice Palestinians endure on a daily bases.

      1. According to Wikipedia, “Although Odeh’s legal representation disputes the veracity of her confession to these crimes, based on her allegation that it was obtained after torture by the Israeli military,[13] according to American federal prosecutors the Israeli investigators had found “extensive bomb-making materials and explosives” and “explosive bricks in her room”.[28]According to Lis Harris, the trial was a sham, since she was not permitted to speak of torture, and an expert’s testimony was disallowed.[27]The Chicago Tribune reports that in the documentary, Women in Struggle, which was made before her indictment for concealing her arrest, Odeh made no denial that she had a role in the bombings.[4] The video also includes an interview with Aisha Odeh, who was also charged in the case, in which she describes the role Rasmea Odeh played in the bombing; federal prosecutors stated that this version of events corresponds “precisely” with Rasmea Odeh’s statement to Israeli authorities on her involvement.[citation needed] It was also pointed out that an observer from the International Committee of the Red Cross had attended her entire trial and stated that in his opinion, it had been a fair trial.”

    3. Hi SF Doc- I’d feel the same, Odeh doesn’t seem like someone worth quoting…but looking at their website now, I don’t see any quote attributed to her. Not that it was your obligation to do so, but did you ask anyone at Reem’s about the quote? I will next time I go in, it’s fully possible that it just seemed like a nice quote and the source was not researched or considered, and the fact that nothing like that is on there now might indicate that they don’t in fact “endorse such people”. I understand your feelings, but it seems clear that Reem’s is committed to a positive business model tied to just business practices and excellent food…if you love the restaurant, it might be worth having a conversation with someone there about this rather than writing them off.

      1. Thank you for your thoughtful response. I didn’t check in with them and should you discover that they didn’t know exactly who they were citing, please let me know. At the same time, in my experience, a restaurant can promote “just business practices” and still dabble in hate.

      2. No, that quote was deliberate. Also notice the passive aggressive mural about Palestinian oppression. You want to politicize your restaurant? How about a mural of hamas bombing residents in southern Israel ad infinitum?

        Second, I’m sick of everyone referring to MIDDLE EASTERN food as Arabic food. It’s not based on religion, it’s based on region. And everyone knows the most creative and best Middle Eastern food is in Tel Aviv.

    1. The family that owns OJ opened ‘Abu Salim Middle Eastern Grill’ at 1599 Haight st while they await repairs.

  4. The food at Reem’s is fantastic.

    Thanks Maria for posting this. Reem’s is one of my favorite places in San Francisco.
    However, I would love for the article to be updated to not call the food Lebanese.

    Not every food out of the Middle East Lebanese. Call it Arab (like Reem does) or Levantine or Middle Eastern.
    Calling everything Lebanese is really offensive to non-Lebanese Arabs. It erases our history and cultural contributions.

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