Mediterranean food is so much more than hummus and gyros.
Spanning a diverse range of distinct cultures, the region serves up the flavors of Southern European, Northern African, and Afghani cultures and, TBH, there's no better cuisine to gorge on guilt-free as you prep for beach days to come.
When you can't jet off to the Greek Isles for truly authentic eats, well-cultured gourmands know to take a Bay Bridge pilgrimage to some of the best Mediterranean restaurants in the Bay Area.
Ba-Bite has been serving affordable, to-go-friendly Mediterranean meals for the better part of a decade in Oakland's Mosswood 'hood. Consciously curated, diverse Mediterranean offerings from lamb kebabs to left-of-center salads fill their various lunch and dinner menus, each served inside a multi chromatic space that harkens back to owner Mica's Middle Eastern upbringing. Each visit should illicit a scroll through their always-rotating "hot bites" selection, taking cues from seasonally available produces and meats to assemble soups, salads, and more. Their shakshuka—eggs poached in tomato vegetable sauce, served with warmed pita—is a must-try. // 3905 Piedmont Ave. (Oakland), babiteoakland.com
Aria Grill & Cuisine
Kabobs, falafels, gyros, oh my! Highlighting the best of Mediterranean cuisine with unmistakable Afghani influences, Aria Grill & Cuisine—a low-key, casual eatery residing in downtown Oakland—hits all its culinary targets with bullseyes. Sure, their traditional pastas and dumplings are something to rave home about, but you'd be kicking yourself if you didn't also order their tikka kabob with charbroiled chunks of beef fillet marinated with saffron and served with grilled tomato plus side of Afghani rice. Don't forget their delicious $4 hummus. // 14th St. (Oakland), ariagrillcuisine.eat24hour.com
La Méditeranée opened in 1979 with the goal of serving Mediterranean fare in a warm, friendly environment with affordable prices. That idea has since expanded to multiple Bay Area locations (including one in Berkeley), and it's reason enough to say they've accomplished their maiden goal—fourfold. Vegan and gluten-free patrons will be delighted to see tasty dishes catered to their diets, while others can freely indulge in favorites like lamb lule—lean ground lamb meatballs seasoned with parsley, Middle Eastern spices, onions and tomatoes, served over rice pilaf. The baba ganoush is also delicious as a main or side. // 2936 College Ave. (Berkeley), cafelamed.com
Ikaros Greek Reasturant
Unabashedly Greek, this charismatic East Bay fixture specializes in classic family-style dishes that are served (and shared) in an equally communal, conversational atmosphere. Photos of the owners Zack and Lavender's island home, Ikaria—whose population, in particular, is noted for touting vivacious lifestyles and longevities worth newsworthy praise—decorate much of the well-lit, intimate dining room. From traditional moussaka to Greek grown-and-bottled wines, as well as a chicken gyro sandwich that's not to be missed, a meal at Ikaros is definitely worth the sometimes lofty wait times. // 3268 Grand Ave. (Oakland), ikarosgr.com
Asena RestaurantWith comfortable outdoor seating available upon request, Asena Restaurant is perhaps the best iteration of "Mediterranean cuisine with a Cali twist" anywhere in the Bay Area. Inside, diners can expect a slightly more upscale feel, where artisanal dishes hailing from the coastal gastronic mecca can be enjoyed atop white-liten table settings, hued by candlelight. Each and every day, Asena bakes their our own breads, roll their own fresh pastas, cure hand-trimmed salmon fillets, and even cure their own lemon to ensure only the finest plattings leave their kitchen. Fresh Fava bean ravioli—topped with mascarpone, fresh mint, blanketed by a sweet brown butter sauce—is our pick for dinner; ask to pair the soup of the day with a house salad for lunch. // 2508 Santa Clara Ave (Alameda), asenarestaurant.com