Think Turkish food is all dolmas, hummus and baklava? Think again. A crop of new and established modern Turkish restaurants meld local, organic ingredients and classic dishes, creating some eye-opening Turkish flavors. Here are new takes on tartare, pot pie, pasta and more, transporting you to totally different Turkish food territory.
584 Washington Street, Financial District
At this sexy, chandeliered recent addition to Jackson Square, pass right over the fattoush and head for the lamb tartare ($13). Pristine cubes of meat are tossed with mint and argan oil, forming a glistening mound of meat that's light on gamey flavor, and heavy on Mediterranean vibrancy. Spread generous heaps on toasts and alternate bites with the creamy, refreshing green bean salad at its side. For lunch at Machka, try any of the durum ($12), which wrap yogurt or tahini sauce with crisp lettuce and gently cooked meat.
2125 Fillmore Street, Pacific Heights
Five months old in the former Citizen Cake space on Fillmore, Troya makes lovely renditions of hummus, dolmas and kefte (Turkish meatballs). But why order those when there's a Turkish baker in the kitchen hand-making pastas and breads on the premises. Try any of the Analonian flatbreads ($11), like the oblong pide topped with feta and arugula. Ravioli lovers should not miss the Turkish beef dumplings ($16) which tuck rounds of spiced ground beef in dainty pasta skins, doused in a creamy, yet light sauce of yogurt and paprika butter.
1457 18th Street, Potrero Hill
Named after the exotic European district in northern Istanbul, this three year old neighborhood favorite might make the best baklava in the city. First thing's first: get dinner started with halikarnas karides guvec ($12), a warming yet healthful tomato-based stew accented with tiger prawns, fresh fennel and melty Feta cheese. Another show stopper is talas Boregi ($17), a large phyllo pocket bursting with smokey chicken, vegetables and creamy coconut curry. Flaky crust meets hearty filling, providing all the comfort of chicken pot pie.
1007 Guerrero Street, The Mission
Exert powerful will to avoid eating the entire basket of warm, fresh-baked bread at this two year old Mission haunt. Tuba serves a slightly more rustic version of Turkish fare than the others in this list, but its ezme ($6), or crushed walnut-garlic-cumin spread, is too good not to mention. Order this to start, or the Tuba cold platter, which provides a taste of this and other traditional spreads. Then move on to heavenly hunkar begendi ($15), which starts with a layer of luscious smoky eggplant pureed with kasseri cheese and ends with chunks of falling apart, tomato-braised lamb.