Sababa Hot Pita Bar Bringing Israeli Street Food To The FiDi

Guy Eshel. (Photo: Geri Koeppel/Hoodline)
By Geri Koeppel - Published on May 02, 2016.

The 200-300 block of Kearny Street is abuzz with weekday dining options, and another is just around the corner: Sababa Hot Pita Bar is opening possibly within three weeks, bringing with it Israeli street food with an impressive pedigree. 

Guy Eshel, with minority owner Matt Semmelhack of Mercer Restaurant Group (A.Q., Bon Marché), is opening in the former Paladar Cafe Cubano at 329 Kearny St. Eshel, who attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York, has worked at One Market and with Semmelhack at A.Q. The new spot will have limited seating, as with many of the cafes on that stretch of Kearny, catering mostly to the lunchtime grab-and-go-crowd.

Rendering: Courtesy of Guy Eshel.

The concept centers on a build-your-own sandwich, bowl or hummus plate, and includes freshly baked pita bread. "Someone's going to be rolling out the pita and baking it in a stone hearth oven to order," Eshel said. Proteins will include chicken with shawarma spices, ground beef kabab braised in tahini, falafel, or sabich—a fried eggplant and caramelized egg combo. They'll offer various add-ons, a pickle bar, house-made hot sauce and a selection of side salads.  

In fact, Eshel says, "75 to 80 percent" of the menu will be vegan or vegetarian. Salads will surpass the usual fare and include kale quinoa tabbouli, Moroccan carrot salad with sheep's milk feta and orange, roasted beets with labneh cheese and zatar, and a roasted cauliflower salad with hot pepper pine nuts and tahini. Ingredients will be organic and locally sourced whenever possible. "We're making Israeli food, but I don't want to bring stuff over from the Middle East when we have such good products here," Eshel says. 

Eshel said he's from Israel and his entire extended family is there, and he visits often. "This is my first restaurant project of my own, and it made sense to go to my favorite kind of food, having been from there," he said, adding that it's hard to find this particular kind of cuisine in the city. Prices will range from $10–14. Sababa will concentrate on lunch to start, but Eshel hopes to eventually add dinner and weekend hours.

About 6 hours ago
San Francisco Chinatown

$1.9 Million Chinatown relief measure passes Board of Supervisors

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a relief measure that would pay ailing Chinatown restaurants nearly $2 million to serve up meals for their neighbors in need. Read More

About 9 hours ago
San Francisco Tenderloin

The Tenderloin used to have a bar where a woman was slowly dying in a bed behind a curtain in back

An autobiographical essay titled "The Hard Crowd" by novelist Rachel Kushner, published in last week's New Yorker, offers some vivid snapshots of several long-gone Tenderloin bars, including one with a convalescing person in a bed in back. Read More

About 11 hours ago
San Francisco Castro

Milk Club holds MLK Day tribute at Castro's 'Hibernia Beach' honoring community leaders

Yesterday the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club (Milk Club) held a Martin Luther King Jr. Day tribute at Castro's Bank of America (501 Castro St.), commonly referred to as 'Hibernia Beach,' honoring the civil rights icon and the passing of recent community members. Read More

Jan 18, 2021
San Francisco Cow Hollow Presidio Heights

‘Purse Filled With Yogurt’ alert on Citizen app milks jokes in Cow Hollow

The culture of Cow Hollow may be under attack, or maybe some joker called the police for a pretty cheesy reason. Read More