Fénix Rising from the Ashes of TBD Restaurant, Sababa Coming to the FiDi

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TBD’s dining area (on the main floor). Photo: Nathan Ziebell.

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A preview of Sababa’s falafel pita sandwich at 2015’s Outside Lands. Photo via Facebook.

After ~TBD~ in SoMa closed after a nasty fire more than a year ago (insurance claims are a tedious thing), Inside Scoop reveals what’s opening next in the space: ~ FÉNIX~.

And here’s the surprise twist: Mercer Restaurant Group owner Matt Semmelhack and chef-owner Mark Liberman (AQ) have decided it’s going to be a Mexican restaurant. Look for a menu of small plates, shareable dishes, and sangria (it’s just beer and wine).

Semmelhack tells me the service style will have some similarities to a classic Korean barbecue joint (but without the grill in the center of the table). Diners will choose a couple main courses (probably 2-3 for a party of 2), and then a bunch of little bites and sides will come out automatically and quickly (like banchan), think 10-15 ramekins of salsas, plates of warm, housemade tortillas, beans, queso, etc. Mains will feature larger portions of meats and vegetables, many slow-roasted or from the plancha, and are designed to be shared.

They are working toward an April opening, with more details to emerge in the coming months. 1077 Mission St. at 7th St.

Another project coming from the Mercer Restaurant Group: after running a few pop-ups of ~SABABA~—the fast casual/Middle Eastern street food project from Israeli-born Guy Eshel (a cook from AQ)—he will be opening a brick-and-mortar location in the former Paladar in the FiDi. Eater reports the menu will have a healthy slant. The focus is on flavor, but the food is inherently healthy and includes many vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

We checked in with Eshel, who tells us the menu can be enjoyed three different ways. First you select from these options: pita sandwich, bowl with selection of mezzo salads (like roasted beet salad with sheep’s milk lebne and za’atar), or a hummus plate. Next you choose your protein: falafel (their signature item), sabik (fried eggplant and slow-baked egg), shawarma-spiced chicken, and more. There are going to be extra toppings to customize your meal with such as olives, feta, toasted almonds, or avocado. There is also a self-serve and complimentary pickle bar with housemade hot sauces too.

They’re trying to source as much local and organic produce and meats as possible, and making everything from scratch. They will be baking pitas in a Wood Stone oven, a beautiful stone hearth that is gas-fired. It’s going to be primarily a take-out situation, with just 14 seats inside. Look for an opening later this spring—it’s a big remodel. 329 Kearny St. at Bush.