Jood, Lebanese Food

Mon, 11AM-7PM | Tue-Sat, 11AM-8PM | Sun, Closed
635 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070, United States
Nearby Places
  • Wells Fargo Bank
  • Siamese Kitchen, Thai Restaurant
  • Shelby's Garden, Gift Shop
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Jood, the #1 Lebanese Restaurant in San Carlos is a hidden gem worthy of a Michelin Star!

At Jood we have no shortcuts, no deceptive ingredients. We make food that’s real, wholesome, and piquant.

We don’t use machines to cut, we believe hand-cut is best because it preserves nutrients better. We buy farm to table meat. And never buy frozen, precut, and prepackaged meat cuts or ready ground meat. Because we understand slow growth means better animal welfare and higher quality meat, and good meat requires knife skills that a machine can’t learn.

We like to control preparation from start to finish. Because cooking is not robotic, it’s never been.

Good food is not made by adding artificial flavors, GMO ingredients, preservatives, and powdered man made flavor enhancers. It’s a process and it’s not supposed to be fast and easy.

Good food is made by using best natural and wholesome ingredients, then being intentional in their preparation and using cooking techniques that preserve their nutrients and enhance their flavors.

We know very few restaurants do this, because most are in it for the business. This is why we take pride in our food. Our bodies need food as fuel. Be intentional in what kind of fuel you consume.

In the Lebanese native language, Arabic, the word “jood” or “جود” means generous, kind, comforting, and/or warmhearted—perfectly describing Lebanese culture and food. 

From Jood’s Official Instagram

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At the Bay Area’s new Lebanese restaurant, chargrilled meat brings an earthy, smoky quality to takeout

A review by Soleil Ho from SF Chronicles

It’s rare that you see an accomplished vegetarian restaurateur pivot to meat — usually, the narrative is about omnivores, like New York’s Daniel Humm and Healdsburg’s SingleThread team, branching out into trendy plant-based concepts. But pivot to meat is exactly what the Harbali family did with their new San Carlos restaurant, Jood, where smoky and tender Lebanese charcoal-grilled kebabs and meats are the centerpiece of the menu.

Rawan and Khaled Harbali are the owners of Falafelle, a green-accented counter-service spot in Belmont that exclusively serves vegetarian fare. There, the falafels are fried to order, resulting in some of the most crisp, delicate and herbaceous fritters in the Bay Area. Since the couple opened it in 2016, the business has grown more popular, with lines often stretching beyond the door. But the Harbalis are not one-trick ponies. Despite making a living off chickpeas, Khaled Harbali comes from a prolific family of butchers and chefs.

Jood is easy to miss while you’re walking on Laurel Street: It’s tucked into a pocket-like alcove along with a Thai restaurant. There are only a few small tables inside and one larger table on the sidewalk, though it’s clear from the biodegradable dishware and in-and-out foot traffic that this is mainly a takeout-oriented operation.

The serene space lined with glossy white subway tiles doesn’t seem like it would have the kind of food that’d have you greased up to the elbow with chicken fat. But it’s hard not to feel a primal stirring deep in your jaw when you observe the charcoal-roasted bone and grill-marked skin of Jood’s grilled chicken ($16/$28). The bird is served butterflied, along with coleslaw, hummus and a fluffy mound of toum, a garlic paste emulsified with a simple mixture of oil, salt and lemon juice.

It was with a caveperson-like sense of urgency that I dug my fingers in, snatching up morsels of skin and juicy flesh to tuck into thin rectangles of lavash with the condiments. Lemony aromas, mingled with the earthy scents of black pepper and cumin, hovered over the platter. The chicken is already rubbed with the pungent toum, but think of adding more toum like sipping red wine with beef bourguignon — as an obvious and satisfying complement. If you can’t get enough toum, order the garlic baguette ($4), grilled pieces of bread just slathered with the stuff.

Kebabs also find time on the grill, including kafta ($18) that looks akin to an extra-long McRib. Made of a half-and-half mixture of halal top sirloin and rib eye, parsley and onions, the flat coins of beef are as improbably smooth and silky as a Cantonese fish ball. They come with umami-boosting charred tomato, jalapeño and onion, which subtly speak to the many unspoken culinary handshakes traded between Lebanon and Mexico.

On the menu, the kafta is called “Minced and Kneaded,” which is likely a play for accessibility. In fact, the owners mention on the website that the name was initially going to be the eponym of the restaurant itself, though I’m glad they stuck with “Jood,” a word in Arabic that can translate to “warm-hearted” or “generous.” There’s something about naming a dish after two verbs that just doesn’t sit well with me. Either way, whether you call it kafta or its American name, the flame-kissed dish is an excellent version of a classic.

The grill even touches the salads, like with the smoky, chargrilled halloumi ($18) that graces a mixture of beet microgreens, kale and spinach. Its interior develops a subtle gooiness during cooking, while the outside has an almost crouton-esque chew.

Though Jood is this restaurant family’s foray into meat dishes, it’s clear that their experience at Falafelle has made them accommodating of vegans and vegetarians. The kafta has a meat-free version made with Impossible meat ($18), and the well-seasoned and succulent kebabs have convinced me that burgers are fatally terrible uses of plant-based meat compared to this treatment. Impossible kebabs or bust.

Then there’s the satisfying Heaven’s Sandweesh ($16): roasted cauliflower and eggplant, fries, walnut pesto, super-smooth hummus and tangy sun-dried tomato sauce rolled in a piece of lavash. Composed of great ensemble players, this veggie sandwich is a standout.

The other vegan sandwich is the batata sandweesh ($8.88), a french fry wrap that has all the makings of great hangover food. It’s got a touch of garlic and ketchup, with cabbage slaw for crunch, but there’s a key error here that extends throughout the menu: The fries aren’t very good. Much like the famous fries at In-N-Out, the ones at Jood are hand-cut and fresh — but, like at In-N-Out, they seem to be fried just once. They’re pale and a little too greasy, like a photo of a fry with the exposure turned way up. (Double frying, a technique that calls for blanching the fries in not-so-hot oil in batches, and then frying them to order, is what generates fluffy interiors and golden-brown crusts. It’s impossible to do quickly if you’re cutting fries to order.)

Still, there’s so much to like about this place that the fries aren’t a fatal flaw. I love the fact that Khaled Harbali will just show up at your table with little dishes of seasoned bulgur to nosh on while you wait for your food. And I love how unapologetically strong the toum is, how it douses the palate with garlic flavor. Then there’s the chicken, that dish with an evocative char that feels so much like a direct connection to the food we must have eaten at the beginning of civilization: It’s absolutely one of my favorite dishes of the year.

Soleil Ho is The San Francisco Chronicle’s restaurant critic. Email: Twitter: @hooleil


Top Reviews

Asad B | Google

Been here several times you can’t skip the chicken, just amazing. Had a get together with a few friends and needed to bring some food so stopped by for kebabs and a whole chicken.

Everyone raved about the hummus and the chicken. The costco pizza someone else brought was barely touched. This place is now one of our go to places for a weeknight dinner.


Vikas Chinnan | Google

Simply amazing. The family platter is a great deal. The owner is super friendly. He noticed I was having trouble walking and offered to help get my take-out to the car. We thoroughly enjoyed our food.


Gary Selick | Google

Very small place; outstanding food (especially the chicken!). Friendly staff. We’ve taken many friends there and everyone is surprised and delighted. Definitely highly recommended.


Destiny Vigil | Google

Don’t miss this delightful hidden gem of San Carlos. Atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming. Food is delicious, high quality yet unpretentious and clearly made with love.


Glencora King | Google

My husband and I LOVE this restaurant. I have yet to try anything I didn’t like. The hummus is amazing and I use the garlic spread on everything!


Hans Goertz | Google

Delicious, authentic Lebanese food. I just wish they offered a platter that included meat, hummus, baba ghanoush and bulgur instead of having to buy the baba ghanoush and bulgur as extra side dishes


jennifer farhat | Google

Great authentic lebanese food. The ribeye skewers are probably the best item on the menu but overall we enjoyed everything we tried (tabboule, chicken, kafta, ribeye and hummus). The one thing we didn’t like was the cucumber in the tabboule ( as it’s not a typical ingredient in lebanese tabboule but taste was still good).


Natalia Szczygłowska | Google

The best chicken ever! The best hummus! Don’t be discouraged by the little place or lack of restrooms, it’s a genuine hidden gem!


Jenn Yee Huang | Google

The rotisserie chicken was juicy, succulent, tender and tasty. It especially paired well with the toom (Lebanese vegan garlic spread).


Mei C. Chen | Google

The vegan sandwich (more like a wrap) with eggplant and cauliflower was really good. It had the right amount of hummus, unlike a lot of vegetarian sandwiches that tend to have a thick layer of hummus.


Sandra Arriaga | Google

Completely delicious — the halloumi salad was a highlight with a wide range of flavors that worked together perfectly. Meats were cooked just right and had beautiful flavors. Even the pickles were perfect. I highly recommend Jood for lunch or dinner!


Astrid Usong | Google

This place deserves a Michelin recommendation. Everything I ate was delicious and authentic. Even all the side dishes and sauces were artfully prepared, and all the different flavors complemented each other so beautifully.


Andrew Fitzgerald | Google

Amazing Lebanese food. Had the rib eye and taouk. Both were perfectly spiced, tender, and juicy. Fries were crispy and perfect. And the hummus! Some of the best we’ve had in the area. Also highly recommend the halloumi salad — could’ve been a meal in itself!


Ra1214 | Google

Delicious food, great service, generous owner, & nice skilled chefs. I appreciated the batata (potato) sandwich so much since it’s the one and only place in the bay area I know that makes it. My friends ordered Tawook plate and heaven sandwich which were also the best we’ve ever tried. The place’s sign is a little small so one might miss it but the address is correct. Thank you, Jood, for the great experience. We’re looking forward to repeat it all.


Jay Shilling | Google

The food was delicious, the portions were generous and the service was friendly! I had the chargrilled minced and would absolutely have it again!


Steven “Stevo Swiss” Scholom | Google

Lots of awesome flavors. So worth it, especially because I had never tasted anything like it before. The salad was super healthy and had the coolest tangy sauce. I recommend the steak -can’t remember what it’s called. So tasty.The owners were there, and showed a lot of respect! I think that makes such a difference. Would highly recommend this place for lunch, it was served fast, or dinner take-out. Don’t miss the sign, it’s a small place. I feel dumb not noticing this place was there, so I hope people see the review!


Kenza Fahmi | Google

The best Mediterranean food I’ve ever had here at Jood. I tried both the chicken tawook sandwich and the ribeye bites sandwich and they were both to die for. Literally had me drooling! Khaled, the owner, is also a super nice, hardworking guy. I’ve never written a review for any restaurant but Jood is that good and deserves the recognition!!!


Savannah Owens | Google

As a recent San Carlos transplant, I have been searching for the best restaurant in town and I think I have found it. The chicken is incredibly juicy and delicious! The owners were very kind and made my rice fresh just for me!


Rawan Hammoud | Google

We tried Jood today and absolutely loved it. The chargrilled whole chicken blew our minds and tasted so authentic and just like back home in Lebanon. The toum garlic sauce was also Devine. Super recommended !!!!


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