Grill House Mediterranean restaurant marks the comeback of Turkish chef Vahit Besir to the Tenderloin neighborhood. Besir’s previous restaurants had a devoted following among locals, so I decided to checkout his latest venture.
Grill House is a small and narrow restaurant that specializes on kebabs (cubed meat skewers) and shawarma. For those unfamiliar with that last term, it’s slow roasted meats carved from a rotating rod. Choose from chicken, a lamb and beef mix, or a combo of all meats, served inside a lavash bread wrap similar to a burrito for $6.99, or a generous plate with rice and salad for just a few dollars more ($9.99-$12.99). Alternatively, you can assemble a custom meal from their extensive list of modestly priced appetizers like: hummus, babaganoush, taboule, dolmas, falafel, numerous salads, and assorted pies ($3.99). It’s also one of the few places in the city where you can find Lahmajun – a Turkish pizza filled with ground meat for $4.
In addition to the regular menu hanging above the counter, a white erase board posted on the right side wall displays a list of daily specials, which changes weekly.
I ordered the weekly special on my first visit. It was roasted chicken for $6.99, including rice, bulgur wheat, and salad. The friendly staff also provided yogurt and garlic dipping sauces, and complimentary bread. I was pleasantly surprised by the generous portions, my takeout order had half a chicken, enough food to share among two people. Every part of the chicken was moist, and still hot after spending a few minutes on the grill. The heavily spiced skin was flavorful and crisp. Simply delicious!
Remember to save room for the handmade desserts. Like the phyllo layered Baklava, which comes in three varieties: filled with pistachios or walnuts ($1.75 each), and rolled fingers filled with ground cashews for $1.25 each. Or the Kunafa ($3.50), a unique dessert made with toasted kataifi, a noodle-like pastry wrapped around mild akkawi cheese. Note that these types of pastries are meant to be consumed right away, ideally best right after it’s made. Later on, these pastries become soggy, after prolonged soaking on the housemade syrup. My home toaster oven came in handy, to regain some of the crispyness. The only dessert I haven’t tried yet is the Kazan Dibi, a milk pudding for $3.50.
The place will probably become a favorite late night dining spot. Not only is the food good, but they stay open longer than anybody else on that block. Since Shalimar is open until 11:30 pm, and Chutney closes at midnight.
533 Jones St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Hours: daily 11:30am – 1am (Thu – Sat until 2am).
Photo Credit: Luis Chong