Tawla, the Eastern Mediterranean spot from first-time restaurateur Azhar Hashem, is now open on Valencia St., bringing an upbeat and bright space to the neighborhood.
The interior of the cozy, 2,400-square-foot restaurant is awash in geometric patterns inspired by the Mediterranean, including Spanish and Moorish influences, and splashes of turquoise. It fits into the San Francisco aesthetic well: airy, white surfaces, with a pop of color, a dash of mid-century decor, and a living wall. It was designed by cmnd+m with Hemminger Architects (Cala, State Bird Provisions). At the back of the space is a garden patio, where tables are clustered closely together in the spirit of community, and where diners can wait for tables.
The menu is a new take on how Mediterranean food is defined in San Francisco (and beyond), which Hashem refers to as "Mediterranean Cuisine 1.0." Tawla's "2.0" menu is executed by chef Joseph Magidow (Locanda, Delfina), and includes fluffy pita, meze plates and homey dishes guided by Hashem's mother. Falafel and hummus, the crutches of Mediterranean food, are nowhere to be found. Drinks are from the Bon Vivants, incorporating flavors like rose water, carcamom and mango. (Check out the food and drink menus here.)
Tawla is now open daily for dinner at 5:30 p.m.-10 p.m.