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Best Turkish in Bay Area (doner kebab, hookah?)


I’m looking for a great Turkish restaurant in the Bay Area. I’ve found a few recommendations in past posts (New Kapodokia (Redwood City), A La Turka (SF), Bosphorous (Berkeley), etc). Are there any others I’m missing? I live in the Peninsula but am willing to travel for great food. Also, does anyone know a place that serves truly authentic Doner Kebab? I’m also interested in finding a good Hookah bar. Thanks in advance!!

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  1. My favorite is Bursa Kebab in SF (west portal district) ... another great one is Troya in SF (on Clement), those two seem to be tied amongst the Turks I know. As for Doner, I like to get one at A La Turka during lunch hours

    2 Replies
    1. re: etincellex

      I second Troya on Clement. The food there is the closest to what I ate while in Turkey. I like Bursa Kebab as well, but Troya edges out because they have a large selection of mezes.

      1. re: Sebby

        I completely agree with Troya on Clement. That is a great place. There is a great variety of mezes to choose from- my favorite being the mucver (zucchini cakes). The entrees are big enough to share with one or more persons. I recommend trying the chicken beyti as an entree.

    2. Shisha bar, Kan Zaman on Haight St. is decent.

      Bosphorus is eh.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I think Bosphorus has been replaced by yet another Indian restaurant.

      2. We've been to a place in San Mateo (I think San Mateo...or one of those towns in that area) called Tarboosh that had hookah and really decent food.
        If looking in SF, Kan Zaman is fun too. (I strongly second Robert's suggestion) Be prepared to experienced a packed hookah bar on the weekends, especially if it's around one of the times they have belly dancing. The food there is great too and I love their hot spiced wine!

        2 Replies
        1. re: lj2899

          Tarboosh is in Redwood City (on Jefferson, across from the new movie theater complex). As far as I know, the hookah smoking is outdoors on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant.

          1. re: mspea

            They've also created a space on the grassy area beside the restaurant where they've set up nice tables as well...I found that the sidewalk tables were awkward, but they were quick to accomodate us.

        2. There's also Ephesus in Walnut Creek.

          I haven't been there, but it's generally well-regarded.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I respectfully have to differ with you on this. It is overpriced for what is doner kebab stand level food. so what if it has tablecloths.

            1. re: offalgood

              Ephesus isn't very expensive for its neighborhood and quality. The kebabs are better than at A La Turka or Gyro King.

              Does anybody else make kisir ("bulgur lettuce wraps")? I love that stuff.

          2. It doesn't have doner kebab and I only had one small snack there, but the new Hayes & Kabob might have some promise

            It's not easy to find a great hookah bar with great food.

            Sunshine Coast (1312 Haight Street) has great hookah I hear, but only limited snacks.

            Here's my report on Pride of the Mediterranea which a friend who is really into hookahs loves (and not a fan of Kan Zaman). I thought Pride had ok-ish food. I'm not so into hookahs.

            3 Replies
            1. re: rworange

              Isn't smoking illegal in Calif restaurants, or is there an exemption?

              1. re: ML8000

                Yeah, hookas are excepted but ... I forget the rules ... something like it has to be outside or in a separate area or something. It's sad, this friend was really into hookahs and I just wasn't interested so a lot of the pep talk about how it wasn't like smoking cigarets just sounded to me like blah, blah, blah ... should have listened.

                Aren't there also some cigar clubs in SF too? Some sort of exception about them being clubs.

                Other hookah / food combos that maybe someone else can comment on ...

                Ziryab Mediterrean Grill

                Casablanca Cafe (1609 Polk Street) Kind of a coffee shop

                Marrakech Moroccan Restaurant

                There was a place in Oakand that I wanted to try ... for the food ... but it closed before I made it there. I was going to at least note it hooka-wise when my freind came to the Bay Area.

                1. re: rworange

                  I had some pretty good food at Ziryab, but it's not Turkish:


                  The California law is no smoking in the workplace. To allow smoking indoors, restaurants and bars must either have separate, sealed-off smoking rooms that employees don't enter (like Hemlock Tavern), or must be entirely owner-operated (like Cigar Bar and Occidental Cigar Club).

            2. After returning from living in Istanbul, I found Bursa in West Portal immediately and it's great. I love the meze combination platter and the adana kebab. Troya is authentic as well, but I'd be more inclined to go there with a group and enjoy their huge variety of mezes. Enjoy!

              1. The most authentic hookah place I've been is Nile Cafe, next to the old Tajine location in the Tenderloin. I believe the owners are Morroccan and most of the clientele is middle eastern. Their Arabic tea is amazing as well. Their website is: www.nilesf.com

                2 Replies
                1. re: alag

                  www.mr.kebab.net in Union City
                  Sumptious platter meals for 7.50

                  1. re: rdabke

                    I haven't tried it, but it's now on my list:
                    Mr. Kebab
                    1760 Decoto Rd.
                    (between Alvarado Niles Rd & Meyers Dr)
                    Union City, CA 94587
                    (510) 324-3035

                    They are between Rite Aid & Safeway, by Starbuck's & the fountain..so across the street from Marina Market.

                    Hrs: 10a-10:30p Daily
                    Credit cards accepted

                2. You can read my reviews of five Turkish restaurants here:

                  It doesn't include my recent trip to Cafe Artemis, a Turkish/Greek place in Campbell. Great lentil soup, sigare borek, and cold lentil koftes. Meat-wise the doner was a bust, but the beef kofte was good.

                  Also, my review doesn't explain fully how awesome New Kapadokia (New Kap) really is. I make a meal of the lentil soup and an appetizer (and the bread and baklava). Their meats (especially beef and lamb) are excellent. Love their "mini hamburgers."

                  1. I was at a Turkish event yesterday. The food was catered by "Adana Kebab, Anatolian Cusine". It was excellent.

                    I met the owner, who says he has a restaurant at 637 Larkin Street. I am looking forward to getting there once my car is fixed (cracked engine head--ouch!).

                    The owner gave me his card, which mentions a website: http://www.adanakebabsf.com/

                    The owner is from Kayseri (see after my signature line for more) in Central Anatolia region of Turkey. The region has an interesting food culture, which is a story in itself.

                    Tell him that you heard about him from the director of Turkish Radio.

                    Ahmet Toprak

                    Director, San Francisco Turkish Radio
                    Host, Orient Express

                    P.S.: For Kayseri see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kayseri . This article says Elia Kazan was also from Kayseri. The ancient name for Kayseri was Caesarea, "Ceasar's city".

                    1. Question...I passed by Adana Kebab today. Anyone tried this place?


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: badbatzmaru

                        I tried the namesake adana kebab a few months ago,

                        There was a chowdown here a couple weeks ago, but so far, no report posted.

                        1. re: badbatzmaru

                          I had some pretty bad food there. Haven't been back to find out if it was a fluke.


                        2. I myself have tried those restaurants you mentioned above. I must say I have found a gem in little saigon. The place is called Adana Kebab. Authentic turkish food. Let me know what you think if you go.


                          1. If you're on the peninsual, you should check out a few places on University Ave. My experience with Donner has been on drunken evenings in London, thus I don't claim to be an expert.

                            Sehbali Cafe and Hookah Shop is behind Mill's Flowers near the Stanford Theater. Sehbali has no obvious sign, and has no Turkish food - they have some smoothies, and only/best indian chaat like bhel puri on univ. ave - not great, but if you've got an itch--- But there's a hookah place in the back. I haven't tried it, not being a smoker, but it seems to attract young arabic folk from stanford - a nice crowd. The feel in the food area of Sehbali keeps me coming back.

                            For donner kebab, you'd try Cafe 220 across the street. I think it's merely good, but if you want a kebab & hookah, I think you could do worse than dragging your kebab across the street to Sehbali.

                            Cafe 220 and Sehbali are open late - midnight weekdays, maybe later on weekends. Just like a proper Arabic street joint.

                            For Sit-down Mediterranean food on university ave, I like Kan Zeman. Lots of dishes I had never seen before. I don't know if they're slanted Greek or Turkish or what, but I think they're worth a try. By their graphics, I suspect them as part of the Mediterranean Delight crowd, but with more sit-down.