The mezze platter at Dyafa includes marinated olives, house-pickled veggies, and a glorious spread of dips. (Photography by Sarah Chorey)

First Taste: Reem Assil's Dyafa serves Middle Eastern hospitality + all the dips and breads​

If fluffy, home-baked breads, Middle Eastern flavors, and the heartwarming vibes that come with sharing communal meals are your thing, boy have we got a new spot for you.

Freshly opened in Jack London Square, chef Reem Assil's Dyafa celebrates diversity and welcomes everyone for a taste of Palestinian-Syrian hospitality ("hospitality" is literally the definition of Dyafa).

In partnership with Daniel Patterson's Alta Restaurant Group, Oakland's James Beard Award semifinalist has opened the follow-up to her popular bakery, Reem's California, and this new spot is proof that the La Cocina alumna is meant to be taken seriously.

The personable crew is all excited to be there, ushering you into their new establishment layered with colors, tiles, and textures, all lit by floor-to-ceiling windows and hanging basket lanterns. The look is your first indication that a good time is soon to be had.

But, on to the food! Already well known for her breads, Assil is carrying her signature dish over to Dyafa where she's serving plump mana'eesh and chewy fresh pita alongside a mix of small bites, hot and cold mezze, and a handful of entrees. (Feel free to share them all.)

For lunch, dip into a fattoush salad; mujadarra; a blistered asparagus grain bowl; and flatbread wraps such as the Steph Curry, stuffed with turmeric-spiced cauliflower, eggplant, and feta. At dinner, you'll find many of same tasty spreads, plus more. Look for labneh with fava salad and flowering coriander; charred eggplant; muhammara; stuffed squid; and mains including braised lamb shank with garlic yogurt and a whole roasted fish served with tahini, lemon, and cucumber.

(Sarah Chorey)

All those excellent dips require delicious breads. Go all in on Assil's mana'eesh flatbread seasoned with za'atar and olive oil. Other options include freshly baked pita and a special gluten-free chickpea pancake, all of which are baked on the saj, a traditional Arab convex griddle.


// Dyafa, 44 Webster Street (Oakland), dyafaoakland.com.