Tahini Street Food duo in expansion mode with new stores, coffeehouse

Tahini Street Food duo in expansion mode with new stores, coffeehouse

Back in their teens, San Diego buddies Osama Shabaik and Mahmoud “Moody” Barkawi talked a good deal about opening their very own shawarma restaurant making use of recipes special to their personal Egyptian and Syrian cultures. They’d even figured out the identify for their long run business: Tahini Street Food stuff.

But after significant school, their life went individual ways. Barkawi acquired a degree in prison justice from San Diego Point out and was accepted into a sheriff’s division teaching academy, pursuing in his family’s extensive custom of general public company. In the meantime, Shabaik created it into Harvard Legislation College, but understood midway by his reports that being a lawyer no lengthier appealed to him.

So in the summer time of 2013, the two adult men resolved they’d give their teen Tahini aspiration a shot. If they unsuccessful after a few months, they’d return to their occupations in the legislation. As an alternative, they succeeded, and they’ve hardly ever appeared back again. In Oct, the now-33-year-previous business owners moved Tahini into a new Kearny Mesa locale that is twice the dimension of their primary retailer. In December, they opened their next location around Sacramento. And in late May perhaps, they will open up their up coming concept: Finjan, a specialty espresso house and dessert store that will promote espresso-based mostly and Turkish coffees as very well as knafeh, a Center Eastern phyllo and cheese pastry. Finjan indicates “coffee cup” in Arabic.

Osama Shabaik, co-founder of Tahini Street Food in Kearny Mesa.

Osama Shabaik, co-founder of Tahini Street Food stuff in Kearny Mesa.

(Sergio Gomez)

Barkawi and Shabaik say they are happy of the business they constructed from scratch and they get the job done well alongside one another as a crew. Barkawi is the provider-minded people today person who oversees operations driving the counter, although Shabaik is the extra introverted contracts, numbers and logistics guy who’s happiest powering a computer system. Besides running their flourishing business together, the two adult males are also lively volunteers in the local Arab-speaking neighborhood, supporting current Syrian and Iraqi refugees with paperwork, lifetime expertise and, in quite a few scenarios, work at Tahini.

Shabaik, whose heritage is Egyptian, was born in Baltimore and grew up in San Diego. Barkawi, who’s Syrian, was born and elevated in Paterson, N.J. and moved with his relatives to San Diego in his mid-teens. They achieved at a area mosque and bonded in excess of video clip video games, journeys to the fitness center and their enjoy for Mediterranean foods, nevertheless both of those felt that the shawarma and falafel they uncovered at local dining places was far too generic for their style.

A falafel rice bowl dish at Tahini Street Food.

A falafel rice bowl dish at Tahini Street Food stuff.

(Katie Fisher )

Tahini’s thought, honed about 3 decades at farmers marketplaces and a meals booth at a Pacific Beach front gas station, is intentionally basic. Diners can opt for from 3 proteins — chicken or beef shawarma or vegetarian falafel — in either a pita, a rice bowl or a salad, with selection of seven residence-manufactured tahini sauces and dips. The hen shawarma is marinated and cooked rotisserie-model in-residence with all-pure, cage-no cost halal chickens and the beef shawarma is also created in-household with all-normal halal Angus beef. Shabaik produced the recipe for the pitas, which are baked in-property each day, and the herb-rich falafel is Egyptian-design and style, built with fava beans alternatively than garbanzos and fried to buy.

For consumers who just cannot make your mind up there are a few specialty pitas: The O.G., a conventional Syrian-design shawarma preparation the M.T.W., an Egyptian, or “Mother of the Entire world”-design and style prep and the best-providing Esquire, which honors Shabaik’s accomplishments of earning his Harvard Regulation degree and passing the California bar test a couple a long time back again. Throughout a 2019 go to to Tahini for his Foodstuff Network series “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” host Dude Fieri termed the Esquire pita a “killer” sandwich.

The Tahini menu also features a several appetizers like pita chips with za’atar and sumac seasoning, fried halloumi (goat’s milk) cheese sticks and Tahini fries, which is a shawarma version of carne asada fries.

Two matters that aren’t on the Tahini menu are desserts and coffee, which will be served alternatively at Finjan, which is opening appropriate future doorway in previous Tahini locale. Shabaik reported provide chain delays are keeping up the opening of the coffee shop. They are awaiting cargo of various Turkish sand espresso equipment, which brew the sweetened coffee in copper cups on a heated bed of sand.

Tahini Street Meals

In which: 9119 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite H, San Diego

Cellular phone: (858) 779-3272

On the net: tahinistreetfood.com

Tahini fries, left, and beef shawarma pita at Tahini Street Food in Kearny Mesa.

Tahini fries, left, and beef shawarma pita at Tahini Road Foods in Kearny Mesa.

(Sergio Gomez)