All the best pitmasters choose their grilling materials with care, and Hakki Goksover, owner and head chef of Ephesus, is no exception. His preference? Applewood. It’s the whiff of woodsmoke that puts Ephesus’ kebabs above the other gas-grilled kebabs in the East Bay, and you’ll taste it in every bite. But Goksover has been in the States long enough to know that, unlike many Middle Eastern diners, we Americans like our meat moist and pink inside. His lamb, steak, and kofte (ground beef and lamb) kebabs are cooked perfectly medium-rare, and his vegetables retain a little crunch in the center. Ephesus sells its kebabs by the skewer. They make up the centerpiece of a multicourse small-plates meal that starts when your waiter lugs over a huge tray of cold appetizers like hummus and bulgur salad. And the room, a study in soft grays and cherry woods, must be the centerpiece of somebody’s design portfolio. Take a date.
Papa’s Persian Restaurant
2026 University Ave., Berkeley,