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Machka–Istanbul in San Francisco

A new Mediterranean restaurant opened in San Francisco last month ( at 584 Washington St. in the Financial District) called Machka. The small 32-seat dining room features long communal tables, a few smaller tables, and lots of dark wood paneling, suggesting an old tavern with its exposed brick walls.   A beautiful flag with the Tengrian crescent symbol (used for the restaurant’s logo), representing the moon and stars, hangs outside by the front door.

Serving dishes that artfully combine Turkish cuisine with the flavors of Spain, Greece and Italy, Machka  would be the perfect place for either  lunch or late dinner in a district of San Francisco not known for many top restaurants.

Stuffed Dates

A signature appetizer of blue cheese and chorizo-stuffed dates with pastirma, or Turkish pastrami, on a small  frisée salad served with sherry wine and mustard vinaigrette was our favorite, a culinary flavor bomb!

Pistachio-crusted Goat Cheese

A close second was pistachio-crusted warm goat cheese with caramelized onions on crostini topped with golden currants and drizzled honey!

Other signature menu items include house-made falafel, grilled octopus, grilled kebabs (smoked paprika marinated beef, lamb or chicken), and flatbread wraps (durum) stuffed with vegetables, meat (lamb, chicken or beef), and tahini. The wine list has both Turkish wines as well as California ones.   We chose a white Turkish wine, Kavaklidere’s “Cankaya” which was dry, crisp and delicious.

Next time we go (and we definitely consider this a winner), I want to try the kebabs and falafel.  The durum, I thought, was not quite as good as at other places where I have eaten –a bit too dry and the lamb should have been more tender.  The flatbread was also a bit thick for my taste.  Still, the appetizers (mezes) and service were outstanding and I am still thinking of those flavor bombs!

Visit Machka at  584 Washington Street, at Montgomery Street (415-391-8228)  and let me know what you think!

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