Occupation: Cross Cultural Educator and Dance Teacher
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Old Jerusalem Restaurant
Reviewed Old Jerusalem Restaurant: Sunday, December 8, 2013
When you walk into Old Jerusalem, you are instantly transported to the Middle East with beautiful murals of the Holy Land on the wall of a dark, cave-like restaurant. It is a small, casual hole in the wall, with a friendly atmosphere. I have been coming here for years, since they first opened, and have always been made to feel at home.
This time I tried their Lentil Soup, which was the perfect comfort food for a cold San Francisco night. My toddler gobbled it up. We also had a side order of Falafels, which are crispy without being greasy and perfectly moist in the middle. They are shaped like very fat cigars. We had the Mousakhan Chicken, baked to a perfectly moist doneness inside with crispy skin, and served with onion, sumac, and pine nut covered flat bread. We also had the Kifta Kebab, which was served with hummus-it was on par with Kifta Kebab in other restaurants. When you dine in, they serve you complimentary bread, with 2 dipping sauces, pickled turnips and olives-all house made.
We ended with Kunafa and black tea served with fresh mint. Kunafa is a very popular Palestinian dessert and Old Jerusalem makes it in house on a gigantic cast iron griddle. It is a must try, although it might not suit all palates. Kunafa is a cheese dessert sweetened with orange flower syrup and sprinkled with ground phyllo dough and pistachios—it is bright orange on top.
Old Jerusalem is the place to go for dishes outside of normal Bay Area Mediterranean cuisine. The friendly atmosphere, the reasonable prices and the exceptional food make it one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco.
Occupation: Executive Assistant
Favorite Restaurant: Massimo’s
Reviewed Old Jerusalem Restaurant: Sunday, November 24, 2013
Parking was great, right in front, a miracle on Mission. Restaurant was full, bustling with families inside and a few waiting outside for takeout orders. We were seated almost immediately. Clean, bright, happy and upbeat with conversations and families laughing and sharing food surrounded by beautiful murals. The complimentary appetizer made us feel very welcome and it was delicious! Our food came fast for one; the other took ten more minutes, while the staff was very attentive checking on us and filling waters, the quality of food was lacking. The Lamb and Beef Shawarma was probably fresher at lunch; dried, charred, cold and tasteless meat for one, while my boyfriend had succulent, juicy, flavorful chicken but only one slice of each onion, pepper and tomato. The really fluffy Hummus was lackluster and drowning in a lake of tasteless olive oil. A real let down. Dessert was very dry, no butter or honey moisture for the Baklava, so that was disappointing.
Would I go there again? Yes, with conditions: Only to give it another try as the staff was so nice, and only for a working lunch if I was in the neighborhood as I have many Mediterranean choices in my East Bay community that are really tasty and conveniently close. Overall rating: Not my cup of tea!
Occupation: Stanford Professor
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Baker Street Bistro
Reviewed Old Jerusalem Restaurant: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Meals begin with complimentary Pita, green olives, and pickled turnips. Meanwhile, an order of crispy Falafel—especially when eaten while they’re still hot—sets the stage for (dare I say it) an authentic Palestinian night out. On a recent weekday night, a group of three friends and I ordered four separate entrees, and passed them until all four plates were clean. Though we found all of the dishes to be tasty, and the proportions to be generous, it was one (the Fetta with meat: lamb slices on garlicky, lemony hummus) that was our clear favorite.
Our dinners were accompanied by black tea with mint and an “Arabian coffee” (a black, syrupy Turkish coffee with cardamom) and all three of the restaurant’s desserts. The Baklava was sturdy and traditional, while the Warbat (a rose water-infused custard wrapped in phyllo dough) is a house specialty along with the Kunafa which was the most unique and most confusing dish of the night; as told to us it was composed of shredded wheat on top of cheese and topped with honey.
Old Jerusalem is a small, neighborhood place. On the night we went, it was packed by regulars. As a result, there was a slightly louder than normal din, but it was a good, fun energy. The service was spotty, but when present it was warm and attentive. All four of us were able to spend a no-frills night together in a vibrant part of the city and eat as much as we could for about $20 a person. This isn’t a place for a romantic dinner, but for a casual evening with friends and authentic offerings you don’t often get in other places, Old Jerusalem is a bright light shining in the Mission.