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Monday, August 1, 2011

Ramadan Begins, But Halal Restaurants Still Seeing Steady Business

Posted By on Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Cafe Zitouna. - MR. BOLO B./YELP

Today is the first day of Ramadan, the month in which Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. Because it follows the lunar calendar, Ramadan drifts across the Julian calendar from year to year. Right now, since it falls near the height of summer, the fast lasts 14 hours. SFoodie called up a number of the Tenderloin's halal restaurants to find out whether they were altering their hours to accommodate the 8:15 sunset.

Because they serve both Muslim and non-Muslim customers, none of the places we spoke to do. Pakwan (501 O'Farrell at Jones) donates food to the local mosque this month, but otherwise does not change its menu or hours.

Neither does the Tunisian-Moroccan Cafe Zitouna (1201 Sutter at Polk), which closes at 9 p.m. In fact, it doesn't see a huge late rush. "People tend to stay at home to eat," says Najib, the restaurant's owner. "A lot of mosques, such as the one next to us, hire someone to serve food to break the fast. Between the maghrib

[dusk prayer] and the late prayer, there's not much time, so it's an

occasion to keep people in the mosque to pray."

Of the restaurants we spoke to, the only one offering Ramadan specials is Yemeni's Restaurant (1098 Sutter at Larkin). Owner

Ali Abu Baker says he has five dishes planned: "We have sambusas

and sherbat, a special soup," he says, listing them, "as well as kastar,

a sweet thing. And we have fried vegetables and chicken and rice, or

lamb with rice, salad, and shafout [a green yogurt soup]."

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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