Yafa Bakery Bakery & Café - Gastro Obscura

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Gastro Obscura

Yafa Bakery & Café

Palestinian-style savory breads and fine patisserie are served with a generous side of hospitality. 


On Somerville Avenue, wedged between New England strip malls, a Brazilian dining club, and a public park, is a gem of a neighborhood bakery. Opened in 2022 by Abdulla Awad, who is Palestinian from the old city of Jerusalem, Yafa Bakery quickly developed a devoted local following for the finesse of its pastries and its effusive hospitality.

“This is your home,” Abdulla likes telling customers who walk in, handing them a cup of creamy cardamom-spiced chai over the counter, and he means it. 

Here, you’ll find delicate displays of freshly baked baklava, served sprinkled with crushed pistachio and rose petals. The jewel-like desserts, inspired by recipes from around the Mediterranean, come as stacks of phyllo dough, rolled cigars, or bundt-shaped semolina cookies filled with walnuts, pistachios, and dates, imbued with fragrant syrups of honey, orange blossom, or rose water.

Each confection is an objet d’art: organic Medjool dates covered with chocolate, cashews, and dusted gold; kunafah of crispy shredded dough filled with honey-infused cream; cookies with delicate marbled icing so ornate it seems hand-drawn; lightly-sweet mamoul of crumbling semolina, adorned with ridges pinched and dotted like exquisitely woven fabric; and perfectly folded Tunisian qairawan cookies stuffed with dates, spiced with cinnamon and a hint nutmeg, and sweetened with honey syrup infused with orange blossom water.

While the sweets are show-stoppers, Yafa’s sun-drenched tables and inviting orange banquettes are perfect for a savory mid-day treat. The Jerusalem bread, freshly kneaded and generously encrusted in sesame seeds, comes out warm and pillowy (order sides of hummus and labneh to dip it in, and colorful pickled vegetables for a zingy contrast).

The famous spinach and cheese snails are stuffed with feta and ricotta, golden and crispy with hints of dill, onion, and sea salt. Safayeh, a Middle Eastern flatbread, is covered with heaping amounts of thyme, za’atar, and verdant olive oil, perfect to scoop up a heap of smoky baba ganoush.

Come with friends and you’ll soon find the table covered by a feast of warm breads, creamy dips, steaming teas, and a baklava or two, with neighborhood regulars coming in for an indulgent treat and, inevitably, lingering for conversation.

Know Before You Go

If visiting on a hot day, get a lemonada–icy, pulpy, and filled with citrus, mint, ginger, and orange blossom– for the road. For your own kitchen, you can also buy zaatar and extra-virgin olive oil that Abdulla imports from the groves his relatives harvest in Palestine.

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March 27, 2024

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