Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in America list included five restaurants in the Bay Area, specifically from San Francisco and the East Bay.

Included in the list of 40 businesses across the country is the Jordanian restaurant Shawarmaji located in Oakland. The inclusion came as a surprise to the chef-owner Mohammad Abutaha who shared to SFGATE his gratitude for making it into the list.

“That’s something I never thought would happen,” he said. “It’s one of those things that you want to achieve but the chances are slim, and you don’t really think about it. It was a surprise.”

The credit became an additional affirmation of the work Abutaha pours into Shawarmaji, which started as a pop-up at Forage Kitchen before transferring last November into 2123 Franklin St. The chef-owner spends most of his time roasting land and chicken on rotating spits for several Arabi plates and shawarmas he sells.

The food Shawarmaji serves makes some people reminisce memories from home.

Horn Barbecue landed Esquire’s best new restaurant list of 2021. 

“People appreciate it,” Abutaha said. “Every time I think about the steps it took me to get here, I really think it’s fate. Things are happening for a reason.”

Apart from Shawarmaji, Horn Barbeque in Oakland; Fish & Bird Sousaku Izakaya in Berkeley; and Anchovy Bar and Abaća in San Francisco also made it to the list.

“I can’t wait to see all the happy faces tonight during our service,” Fish & Bird’s co-owner Yoshika Hedberg, said. “Our chefs and all our staff have been working so very hard during this pandemic. Being recognized is an affirmation we’ve been doing the right thing and on the right track.”