464 Castro St, San Francisco, CA | Directions 9411437.761497 -122.435046
This Castro restaurant serves a moderately priced, moderately tasty menu of Middle Eastern, European and American classics for breakfast, lunch and dinner. – The latest addition to Castro Street's ever-growing list of halfway-decent eateries, Cafe Mystique tries to please everybody with a sprawling, geographically ambitious menu of Middle Eastern and European-themed breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The small cafe--bedecked in dark-wood beams, a stately bar, open kitchen, and soft lighting--moves to what sounds like Moroccan Muzak, and feels like a date spot, which makes sense since it's right across the street from the Castro Theatre. Mystique posits itself as neighborhood's go-to Persian cafe with items like falafel, naan, tagine, and a delicious lentil soup, while serving standards such as burgers, steak frites, and chicken fettucine, and breakfast options ranging from granola and fruit to huevos rancheros and crepes. The overextension, however, doesn't apply to the wine list, which is just 11 bottles deep, mostly French and well-selected. Though Cafe Mystique isn't quite sure what it's going for--Moroccan, Italian, American, Mexican, or French cuisine--it at least knows how to set the mood.
Marvelous Moroccan Meal – I recently visited the Cafe Mystique on Castro across from Clift's and the Castro Theater. Apparently, it is fairly newly opened although it seems to have readily found it's 'comfort zone' as it were. The menu is primarily Mediterranean (Moroccan mostly I am told) although there are some more 'conventional' items - particularly in the breakfast part. What I had when I was there was the Pomegranate Chicken. It is slow cooked until it is very tender and juicy and is served on a base of cous-cous. There was a delightful and exotic mix of flavors and textures within the dish that I found enchanting (zucchini, fennel, parsley, mint, raisins, and pine-nuts along with the chicken and cous-cous). The dish was ? along with the soup and dessert I had with it ? simply marvelous. The soups and desserts are worth trips of their own. I should mention the garlic naan which was light and crisp and possibly the best I have ever had. Overall the food was everything I hope for when I order a meal in a restaurant but is, unfortunately, rare to find. The meal was further enhanced by the friendly atmosphere and the excellent service. I felt as if they liked having me there as much as I liked being there. And being there is something I intend to do as often as I can.
As a footnote, I particularly liked the restaurant's interior itself. It is tastefully done with dark wood for the most part and with a fire place near the front that created a very comfortable ambiance. Overall it has a distinct middle-eastern feel that hints exotic places and exudes an easy charm that is a nice visual complement to the food.
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