Safta combines traditional and hipster

Safta’s halloumi (front) pairs nicely with the crispy eggplant (back). Photo: Genessa Gutzait · The Sentry

Safta’s halloumi (front) pairs nicely with the crispy eggplant (back).
Photo: Genessa Gutzait · The Sentry
New Israeli restaurant stuns

One might expect Safta, a new Israeli restaurant in RiNo, to be traditional the way many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants tend to be, with featured regional décor and artwork. Safta’s website describes the restaurant as having influences from the Middle East, Europe, and North Africa. However, the atmosphere of Safta is decidedly not “traditional.”

It’s located inside The Source, a hotel in RiNo, in a building that looks like it was once a 19th century warehouse. Safta is on the second floor, across the hallway from two clothing outlets, and next to a coffee bar. 

Generally, this is not the location one would expect from a stylish new restaurant. Safta has concrete floors and windows that look like they double as garage doors.

Despite this industrial feel, the restaurant has an odd sprinkling of pink—with selective pink wall space, pink napkins, and little pink flowers in the water glasses at the tables. A server said Safta was trying to go for a “hipster grandma” vibe; but only if one wants to be reminded of going to visit their grandma who happens to also be an amateur artist living in a studio apartment in San Francisco. 

Possibly to adhere to this theme, many servers also had brightly colored socks—one server sported little waffles on his socks—and headbands.

The hipster-industrial vibe is more commonly associated with downtown breweries than an Israeli restaurant that aims to remind guests of someone’s grandma’s cooking.

Even if the restaurant theme is perplexing, the menu is impressive. The hummus plates, of which there are five options, seem to be one of more popular menu items. The pita bread for the hummus plates is taken right out of the oven and is still warm and gooey when served. 

There are sandwich and burger options for anyone who’d rather order a standard entree, but most guests order a small plate to share with their group. A server recommended the crispy eggplant from the “small plate” selections. The eggplant is topped with sweet tomatoes and goat cheese and has an almost buttery texture.

The falafel with yogurt dip is also a good option for someone who’s unfamiliar with Mediterranean or Middle Eastern food, and isn’t sure of what to order. 

Safta isn’t a casual dining experience. It seems like a place for special occasions, like celebrating a birthday or graduation, or somewhere to impress a date. 

If going with a group of friends, make sure everyone has Venmo since it’s the type of place to order shareable dishes. Also, be sure to make a reservation. On the restaurant website, it’s difficult to find reservations  for Friday and Saturday nights. It may have just opened, but Safta already seems to be popular.

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