Mediterranean Spirit, San Francisco

(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.

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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.

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

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