When I started Once I came up with this list, I quickly realized that the Bay Area has many forms of Middle Eastern food under euphemisms such as “Mediterranean” that obscure its origins. Politically, it is a broad geographic category encompassing tremendous diversity – in cultures, religions, and beloved dishes – that tends to be glossed over in this country. I learned so much about the nuances of Middle Eastern food from trying kebabs at family-run halal markets, wiping fresh pita through hot and cold hummus plates, and asking Arab friends for recommendations on kebab places that really get it right . Even something as seemingly simple as hummus looks very different from place to place. In the three Yafa Hummus restaurants in East Bay, the chickpea dip is simple or enriched with savory spices and pesto, according to the founder’s grandfather’s recipe. In the Israeli Hummus Bodega it is made without garlic and lemon and served warm with hard-boiled eggs and garlic confit. This list is an attempt to capture a snippet of our vibrant Middle Eastern food scene, ranging from fine dining to the most casual of settings.