SF Weekly's Seven Day Dish

Around Town:

It isn't every day that a new vegan restaurant opens, even in veggie-friendly San Francisco, which is why The Usual Suspects Cafe (450 Broadway at Kearny) in North Beach is generating so much interest – and because word of mouth has it that the food is terrific. Chef and manager Mark Benedetto, who learned the vegan-friendly ropes at Millennium, describes Usual Suspects' menu as “99 percent vegan, with a distinctly Italian slant. I think it's best described as Mediterranean comfort food with a little Latin sprinkled around. We have a few dishes that are heavy on cumin, but a lot of pastas, a pizza, and of course the shawarma.” Pressed for his favorite dish, Benedetto goes straight for the shawarma wrap ($8.50): “We use seitan, broiled tomato, hummus cucumber, tahini sauce, all made in-house,” he says. “Everything is housemade except the vegan mayo. I also really like our breaded portobello sandwich ($8.95). We also have, I think, the only vegan pizza ($12.95) in the city. It's made with an organic cornmeal crust, basil pesto, seared oyster mushrooms, caramelized onions, and cashew cheese.”

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