Reem’s California, the farmers market pop-up from Reem Assil, is growing into a full-fledged brick-and-mortar restaurant serving Arab street food. Assil started her business as an entrepreneur at La Cocina in 2015, and was recently named an SF Chronicle Rising Star Chef for 2017 (see all of them here).
Now fans Assil’s food can find it in Oakland, starting May 16 in the Fruitvale Transit Village (3301 E. 12th St., Suite 133, across from The Half Orange). The menu is a reflection of the chef’s Palestinian-Syrian upbringing, featuring mana’eesh flatbreads with toppings, breakfast pastries (savory and sweet), Red Bay coffee, and traditional Arab tea in the morning; for lunch, flatbreads are topped with meats and vegetables, rolled into wraps and served with green olives and house-pickled turnips. In July, the restaurant will open for dinner, with beer and wines (specifically from the Levantine region). Orange blossom shortbread and baklava will make an appearance for dessert.
Assil’s vision will combat the dearth of good Middle Eastern food in the Bay Area, offering fresh versions of new and old favorits (though SF’s Tawla has recently joined the scene in an inspirational way with dishes like freshly baked breads and labneh, and whole roasted fish stuffed with walnuts). The former labor and community organizer spent time at Arizmendi, and other local institutions before joining La Cocina, where she laid the foundation for her brick-and-mortar, and continued her passion for social justice. The counter-service spot is filled with art including a mural collaboration from Trust Your Struggle collective and Artist Chris Gazaleh, showing the struggles of immigrants and workers. The mural also depicts Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh, Oscar Grant, and names of Kickstarter contributors.
Starting May 16, the bakery will be open from 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Saturdays, and closed on Sundays and Mondays. Keep an eye out for brunch and dinner in July.
- Reem’s California [Official Site]
- The Chronicle’s 2017 Rising Star Chefs Are Culinary Leaders [ESF]