SOMA Eats owners Shirley Azzghayer and Oussama Manna are bringing more of the Middle Eastern flavors they (and their existing 2nd Street customers) love to a larger sequel location. The second SOMA Eats, another hybrid cafe and bar, is also in SoMa, but closer to the Embarcadero at 121 Spear Street. It opens for breakfast and lunch tomorrow, October 10th. Full-service dinner and an extended menu will arrive in the coming weeks.
Azzghayer designed the new, 3,500-square-foot space space with Studio KDA architecture. Like the first location, it’s full of rich turquoise tiles and copper fixtures. “Kind of like our food, you see some hints of Middle Eastern,” says Azzghayer. A central bar divides the room, and a large wooden arch above it takes full advantage of unusually high ceilings.
On one side of the bar is table seating; on the other, a huge fridge with a selection of 400 beers. Azzghayer and Mannaa, who are married, know their beverages: They also operate Soma Wines & Spirits on 2nd Street. Beyond bottles, the bar has 9 beers and 6 wines on tap — happy hour is in the future — plus low ABV cocktail concoctions.
With a full kitchen, the new restaurant will expand on the original location’s menu of salads, snacks, and sandwiches — the Superior Farms lamb is a favorite — adding new bowls like a lamb tagine option with olives and dates over preserved lemon couscous. Others include a lentil protein bowl (romaine, cabbage, radishes, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, mint, pita chips, and caramelized onions over braised lentils and bulgur). Menu items are moderately priced, with dishes ranging from $9.50 to $15.50.
Azzghayer, who is Palestinian, and Mannaa, who is from Lebanon, say they’ve seen Mediterranean spices and ingredients gain favor in recent years. But for them, using sumac or harissa is no novelty. “We grew up with these flavors,” says Azzghayer. “We know how to use them — and sometimes, they’re misused.”
As SOMA Eats settles in for the second time around growing downtown SF office space, its owners hope to once again appeal to office workers at various hours of day. “We have people that come for breakfast, come back at lunch, and are back for happy hour,” on 2nd Street, Mannaa says.
Still, some downtown offices, like nearby Linkedin, have a reputation for impressive corporate cafeterias that compete with small operators like SOMA Eats.
“As much as we see expansion [downtown], I don’t think small businesses would say we’re getting all the benefits of that expansion,” Azzghayer says. “Our hope is that these companies will support the communities they’re in.”
Maybe with that hope, the new SOMA Eats was designed with corporate event bookings in mind, featuring lots of speakers, a large projector, and more technical capabilities.
SOMA Eats is open Monday to Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., serving breakfast from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., then lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.. Dinner and later hours are coming soon.