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Thursday, September 14, 2006

A La Turca: Restaurant Review

Having a Turkish sister has many advantages. I can't imagine visiting Turkey, a country with breathtaking ancient ruins, sparkling coastlines and exciting cities without her. She is also my guide to all things Turkish in this country, including food. This week in honor of her birthday I ate at my favorite Turkish restaurant.

The secret to getting a good meal at any restaurant is knowing what to order. Even though my sister is back in Turkey these days, she was the one who steered me right at A La Turca from day one.

While kebabs are what most people associate with Turkish food, there is so much more than that to this cuisine. At A La Turca there are three must order items, none of them kebabs. There is a fairly long menu, but I recommend sticking to the really good stuff.

First of all, as a starter, have the sigara boregi ($4.50). There are versions of this dish all over the Mediterranean and the Middle East. You may know it as borek. It's a crunchy pastry filled with oozy, gooey salty cheese.

The next dish is lahmacun, which you might remember from a Post of the Week not long ago. This is like Turkish fast food, available all over Turkey. It's kind of a Turkish version of pizza, a flat bread topped with a mixture of spices, tomatoes and ground meat. But no cheese. You eat it folded up with slices of onion and a squeeze of lemon. Delicious! A portion to share or eat as a main course is only $3.75.

Finally don't miss the pide. Pronounced "pee-day". This is a more doughy pastry filled with meat, cheese or vegetables and sprinkled with crispy sesame seeds. A very large portion is about $7 and will easily feed more than one person.

If so inclined, you can order some cold salads or appetizers, and for dessert the kunefe is not bad. Kunefe is a shredded phyllo pastry with pistachios and a drizzle of syrup, served warm. Though knowing my sister, I'm sure she'd prefer chocolate cake! Happy Birthday Hande!

A La Turca
869 Geary St @ Larkin
San Francisco

Sun - Thurs 11 - 10
Fri & Sat 11 - 11