Mohamed Ali Abdelmeguid is giddy that the tremendous, pastel-hued, sign of a cat is finally up outside his new cafe on Evans Avenue. Hungry Cafe, a new destination for Egyptian entrees and fresh pastries on San Francisco’s east side, soft opened in February 2023. But as its host building the Southeast Community Center comes to life — launching a Black-producer-centered farmers market in June — the development’s destination for strong coffee and affordable eats is now fully open to the public. “We’re energizing the space,” Abdelmeguid says. “We’re creating a beacon of fresh food while providing from my heritage and sharing.”
Abdelmeguid’s first food company, the catering outfit Hungry Kitchens, was all about the individual: Think acai bowls, smoothies, and grilled cheese sandwiches for a work event or group lunch. But when the pandemic happened, he couldn’t stop thinking about how food bonds people. Growing up in Egypt, Abdelmeguid says, the central reason to cook is to bring communities and families together, at lunch and dinner. To that communal end, at Hungry Cafe everything is more affordable than San Francisco diners might expect. Pastries go for $3.25, and vegan breakfast entrees such as the berry tartine topped with nut butter or mascarpone, cost just $11.50.
He goes on to say that everything is made with group dining in mind. To the owner, everything from bamia — a stewed okra and tomato dish — and falafel to the flaky croissants and sweet escargot ought to be shared. The Egyptian items on the menu deserve attention: Herbed labne, sumac-spiced basterma toast, and even chickpea confit. To address okra’s infamous texture, Abdelmeguid prepares the plant Egyptian-style by stir-frying, roasting, then stir-frying it again before combining it with a tomato salsa. The cook incorporates California flavors, too like relying on rusticana bread as an accompaniment. “People are always intrigued,” Abdelmeguid says. “It’s full-body flavor.”
The entrepreneur applied alongside loads of other business owners to run the Southeast Community Center’s on-site cafe. When he learned he won the bid in 2021, he was both glad and nervous. It’s not lost on him that the Bayview isn’t considered one of the city’s go-to eating destinations. “I’m not in the Marina or next to Dolores Park,” Abdelmeguid says. “And there’s a connotation of the Bayview.” But he’s confident that highlighting the space, and all of its accessibility to locals looking for cheap and healthy eats, will bring folks in. He’d like neighbors to turn to Hungry Cafe as a go-to for hosting events and spending lots of time working remote. “This marks the beginning,” Abdelmeguid says. “It’s all about creating good food and good spirits. It’s not a Michelin star-vibe, but it’s affordable, healthy food.”
Hungry Cafe is open at 1550 Evans Avenue Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.