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 — Dyafa.
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.
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.
Another star from the hot mezze section, the zidbiyit gambari is a stewed tomato dish filled with plump shrimp, peppers, and chickpeas—a claypot full of goodness you’ll be sopping up with the last of your flatbread.
Not just another chicken dish, the musakhan is a bowl of extremely tender sumac-spiced chicken confit, rich and juicy and covered with purple cabbage and pine nuts. It sits atop a blanket of markook bread. Look forward to eating the leftovers the next day for lunch.
Dessert time! Dyafa offers a menu of Arab sweets so distinct that you have to try at least one. We went for the kenafeh, a square of sweet cheese covered in phyllo, orange blossom, and a handful of crushed pistachios.
Dyafa has just the right kind of energy you want when you’re thinking of a fun dinner with family and friends.
Find Dyafa in Jack London Square, open daily for lunch and dinner, as well as weekend brunch.