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.