President Trump’s most recent executive order on immigration attempted to ban travelers from six majority-Muslim countries — Syria, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, and Yemen — from entering the US. As with Trump’s first Muslim ban, the federal courts struck down that executive order. But the administration’s anti-Muslim rhetoric has made many Americans want to do something to show solidarity with the Muslim community — perhaps by supporting restaurants run by people from these banned countries, for instance.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to find Bay Area restaurants representing all six countries — there don’t appear to be any Libyan restaurants, for instance, and though we heard rumors of a Sudanese-owned pizzeria in Oakland, we weren’t able to confirm it. For Syrian food, you can, of course, buy one of the exceptional, fresh-baked flatbreads at Reem’s, which you perhaps just finished reading about. And we’ve got you covered for the cuisines of the three other countries affected by the ban.
Middle East Market
This Berkeley market-bakery specializes in a range of Persian/Iranian delicacies. A father-son duo bought the business a year and a half ago and revamped the menu with even more traditional dishes from Iran. The market sells pre-packaged foods, as well as hot items in the deli section. One of the most popular dishes is the koobideh, which is well-seasoned, marinated ground beef. The taftoon bread is baked in-house in a tandoor oven. In the deli section, you can also buy ghormeh sabzi, an herb stew popular across Iran. And if you’re looking to celebrate Persian New Year, try ordering sabzi polow mahi, a white fish and herb rice that’s traditionally eaten around late March for Nowruz. — E.C.
2054 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, 510-704-8800.
You’ll have to travel to South San Jose to find a traditional Somali restaurant. Jubba is a family-owned business, best known for its well-seasoned beef, goat, and chicken dishes — the beef suqaar, which is similar to a stir-fry, seems especially popular. Typically, these meals are served with rice or chapati (flatbread). Reached by phone, a Jubba employee said that only about 5 percent of the restaurant’s patrons are of Somali descent, and that the flavorful meats and other unique dishes intrigued many newcomers to the cuisine. — E.C.
5330 Terner Way, Ste. 40, San Jose, 408-440-1504
Chef Mohammed Aboghanem, a native of Yemen, is known for his “Arabic fusion” cooking, which includes dishes as outlandish-sounding — and delicious! — as salmon baklava and knaffe (a kind of pastry) made with lobster. But Saha also serves a wide selection of very traditional Yemeni dishes, including a tomato-y version of fouel (a fava-bean dip) and the hearty, peppery lamb stew known as “Helba & Pita.” Much of the menu is vegan-friendly (see p. 30). — L.T.
2451 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-900-2457