Back in their teens, San Diego buddies Osama Shabaik and Mahmoud “Moody” Barkawi talked a great deal about opening their own shawarma restaurant making use of recipes exclusive to their personal Egyptian and Syrian cultures. They’d even figured out the identify for their potential enterprise: Tahini Avenue Foodstuff.

But following substantial school, their lives went independent techniques. Barkawi earned a diploma in legal justice from San Diego Condition and was acknowledged into a sheriff’s section education academy, pursuing in his family’s prolonged tradition of public provider. In the meantime, Shabaik made it into Harvard Law University, but recognized halfway by way of his experiments that currently being a attorney no lengthier appealed to him.

So in the summer months of 2013, the two adult men determined they’d give their teenager Tahini aspiration a shot. If they unsuccessful following a few months, they’d return to their occupations in the law. Alternatively, they succeeded, and they’ve never ever seemed again. In October, the now-33-calendar year-previous business owners moved Tahini into a new Kearny Mesa place that’s 2 times the dimensions of their original keep. In December, they opened their 2nd site in close proximity to Sacramento. And in late May perhaps, they will open up their subsequent notion: Finjan, a specialty coffee household and dessert store that will market espresso-primarily based and Turkish coffees as nicely as knafeh, a Middle Eastern phyllo and cheese pastry. Finjan indicates “coffee cup” in Arabic.

Osama Shabaik, co-founder of Tahini Street Food in Kearny Mesa.

Osama Shabaik, co-founder of Tahini Street Foods in Kearny Mesa.

(Sergio Gomez)

Barkawi and Shabaik say they are happy of the business enterprise they crafted from scratch and they perform nicely collectively as a crew. Barkawi is the service-minded individuals man or woman who oversees functions behind the counter, although Shabaik is the far more introverted contracts, numbers and logistics guy who’s happiest powering a pc. Aside from working their flourishing organization alongside one another, the two males are also lively volunteers in the nearby Arab-talking group, encouraging current Syrian and Iraqi refugees with paperwork, lifetime skills and, in many circumstances, employment at Tahini.

Shabaik, whose heritage is Egyptian, was born in Baltimore and grew up in San Diego. Barkawi, who’s Syrian, was born and elevated in Paterson, N.J. and moved with his family to San Diego in his mid-teens. They achieved at a neighborhood mosque and bonded over movie online games, visits to the gym and their like for Mediterranean foodstuff, while equally felt that the shawarma and falafel they identified at area dining places was also generic for their style.

A falafel rice bowl dish at Tahini Street Food.

A falafel rice bowl dish at Tahini Road Food.

(Katie Fisher )

Tahini’s thought, honed around three several years at farmers marketplaces and a food booth at a Pacific Seashore fuel station, is intentionally simple. Diners can select from 3 proteins — hen or beef shawarma or vegetarian falafel — in both a pita, a rice bowl or a salad, with selection of seven house-designed tahini sauces and dips. The chicken shawarma is marinated and cooked rotisserie-model in-home with all-normal, cage-totally free halal chickens and the beef shawarma is also designed in-property with all-purely natural halal Angus beef. Shabaik produced the recipe for the pitas, which are baked in-home every day, and the herb-prosperous falafel is Egyptian-design, built with fava beans somewhat than garbanzos and fried to order.

For shoppers who can’t come to a decision there are a few specialty pitas: The O.G., a standard Syrian-type shawarma planning the M.T.W., an Egyptian, or “Mother of the World”-model prep and the top-providing Esquire, which honors Shabaik’s accomplishments of earning his Harvard Law diploma and passing the California bar exam a number of several years back again. In the course of a 2019 go to to Tahini for his Food Network collection “Diners, Travel-Ins and Dives,” host Person Fieri termed the Esquire pita a “killer” sandwich.

The Tahini menu also features a handful of appetizers like pita chips with za’atar and sumac seasoning, fried halloumi (goat’s milk) cheese sticks and Tahini fries, which is a shawarma model of carne asada fries.

Two things that aren’t on the Tahini menu are desserts and coffee, which will be served in its place at Finjan, which is opening ideal next doorway in former Tahini site. Shabaik said provide chain delays are holding up the opening of the espresso shop. They’re awaiting cargo of various Turkish sand espresso devices, which brew the sweetened espresso in copper cups on a heated mattress of sand.

Tahini Avenue Foodstuff

In which: 9119 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite H, San Diego

Cellular phone: (858) 779-3272

On the internet:

Tahini fries, left, and beef shawarma pita at Tahini Street Food in Kearny Mesa.

Tahini fries, still left, and beef shawarma pita at Tahini Road Food in Kearny Mesa.

(Sergio Gomez)

By Taba