Bay Area shawarma restaurant opens second location

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Shawarmaji, known for preparing traditional shawarma in Oakland, has opened its second Bay Area restaurant

Chef-owner Mohammad Abutaha announced on Instagram that his second storefront officially opened its doors on Monday at 2281 The Alameda in Santa Clara, where guests will find a menu like his Oakland flagship location.

South Bay customers new to Shawarmaji will find a menu featuring chicken, which is prepared on a revolving spit, and served on thin wraps or Lebanese-style pita that are stuffed with garlic toum sauce and crunchy pickles. The menu also offers falafel served on pita or toasted bread. As at his Oakland outpost, Abutaha shared on Instagram that he will soon start serving lamb shawarma in Santa Clara.

After taking gigs at local restaurants like Noosh in San Francisco and Michelin-starred The Village Pub in Woodside, Abutaha decided to launch a restaurant of his own. Abutaha previously told Berkeleyside that he couldn’t find authentic shawarma in the Bay Area reminiscent of the flavors found in his native Amman, Jordan, so he started pop-ups at Reem’s and then Forage Kitchen. Shawarmaji eventually found a home of its own in Oakland in 2020.  

Last year, Shawarmaji was among a selection of Bay Area restaurants that made Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in America, which highlighted Shawarmaji’s “insanely delicious” offerings and highlighted its massive wraps the size of “your forearm.” The honor came as a surprise to Abutaha, he later told SFGATE.

Shawarmaji opened its second storefront, in Santa Clara, on Nov. 28, 2022. Pictured is the flagship location in Oakland. 

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“That’s something I never thought would happen,” Abutaha said. “It’s one of those things that you want to achieve but the chances are slim, and you don’t really think about it.”

Shawarmaji, 2281 The Alameda, Santa Clara. Open Monday to Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Shawarmaji also has a location at 2123 Franklin St., Oakland. Open Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

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