July 24, 2024


The Food community

Horn Barbecue, Shawarmaji and more Bay Area restaurants made the list

2 min read

Out of 40 businesses throughout the country, five restaurants from San Francisco and the East Bay were recognized. Jordanian restaurant Shawarmaji in Oakland was among the celebrated. Chef-owner Mohammad Abutaha told SFGATE that after the initial shock of learning that his restaurant made the list, he felt an immense sense of gratitude.

“That’s something I never thought would happen,” Abutaha said. “It’s one of those things that you want to achieve but the chances are slim, and you don’t really think about it. It was a surprise.”

The lamb shwarma at Shawarmaji in Oakland. 

The lamb shwarma at Shawarmaji in Oakland. 

Bashar F. on Yelp

The recognition also reaffirmed that the work Abutaha has put into Shawarmaji has been worthwhile. Shawarmaji began as a pop-up at Forage Kitchen before moving into 2123 Franklin St. last November. And since opening a brick and mortar, Abutaha has kept busy roasting chicken and lamb on revolving spits for the many shawarmas and Arabi plates he sells.

In that time, a number of customers have shared that his food reminds them of home.

Horn Barbecue landed Esquire's best new restaurant list of 2021. 

Horn Barbecue landed Esquire’s best new restaurant list of 2021. 

Patricia Chang / SFGATE

“People appreciate it,” Abutaha said. “Every time I think about the steps it took me to get here, I really think it’s fate. Things are happening for a reason.”

Among the other winners included Oakland’s popular Horn Barbecuethe Anchovy Bar and Abaća, which are both located in San Francisco, and Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya in Berkeley. 

“I can’t wait to see all the happy faces tonight during our service,” said Yoshika Hedberg, co-owner of Fish & Bird. “Our chefs and all our staff have been working so very hard during this pandemic. Being recognized is an affirmation we’ve been doing the right thing and on the right track.”

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