The Perfect Baklava From Hayes & Kebab | San Francisco

The makeover of a maligned sweet

Oh, we've suffered.

Dry baklava, tooth-achingly sweet baklava, baklava filled with stale nuts: The insults suffered by this poor phyllo treat are endless.

But brothers Bawer and Emin Tekin, owners of Hayes & Kebab, are redeeming a much-maligned dessert. They were born and raised in southeastern Turkey, and their baklava ($3) is made according to their mother's recipe.

She makes and hand-rolls her own tissue-thin phyllo, while the brothers opt for the convenience of ready-made dough. Otherwise the version served at Hayes & Kebab is a faithful replication of mom's. A combination of finely chopped walnuts and pistachios is sandwiched between buttery pastry, then baked until golden-brown. Once cooled, the baklava is generously drizzled with a thick sugar syrup to which a touch of lemon has been added.

When you bite into a diamond of the baklava, it crackles marvelously; then the pastry gives way to a filling that is juicy with butter and syrup. We believe baklava is best eaten fresh, and here Hayes & Kebab delivers: It's baked every day to keep up with demand.

Redemption tastes sweet.

Hayes & Kebab, 580 Hayes St. (at Laguna St.); 415-861-2977 or