Tuba opened in 2010, and it’s become a mainstay neighborhood favorite. I tried it shortly after it opened with some out-of-town friends. I really wasn’t all that wowed by it at the time. I wanted to be, because there’s a dearth of Turkish food in the Mission, but some of the flavors were just muddled to me. Enter the BF, who wanted to check it out. So glad we did! We were told that it was the same chef as when they opened, so it seems he’s perfected his flavors.
I started out with a delicious Turkish sauvignon blanc…
The room exudes warmth, as does the friendly, knowledgeable staff. We were there early but the place filled up fast, with Turkish families and other locals. There’s nothing pretentious about Tuba, and you can tell the family loves what they’re doing here…
For our appetizer, we ordered the Cevizli Ezme…A walnut and Turkish red pepper paste, blended with tomato paste, garlic, olive oil, and cumin, it had a peppery bite to it. It’s one of their signature meze and we loved it, especially with their house-made bread… Known as pide, this is Turkey’s version of pita bread, but sprinkled with sesame seeds. Better than any pita we’d ever had, it tasted a little more like a focaccia to me, and we made short work of it with the sun-dried tomato butter, olives and feta.
Next, we tried the mücver…Pan fried patties of zucchini, green onions, eggs, dill, and mint were served with a garlic yogurt. The patties lacked a little oomph, despite the garlicky sauce.
For his main, the BF had the adana kebab:The BF loves any type of kofte-like thing – any seasoned ground beef combination – and this was no exception. Here, spicy ground beef and lamb were pressed onto flat skewers and grilled, served with roasted tomatoes, red and green peppers, pepperoncini, pickles, rice, and more of the garlic sauce. Juicy and flavorful!
I went with something completely foreign to me, the HünkarBeğendi:I agonized between this dish and the Karniyarik – another eggplant dish with ground beef, baked, with rice and salad. I made the right choice: pureed eggplant was topped with mozzarella and garlic, and chunks of tender stewed leg of lamb in a tomato sauce with bell peppers and a sumac garnish – a tart, Middle Eastern spice. I am not a huge bell pepper fan usually, but this dish was a comforting, delicious hug. Rich and creamy, it’s a must try. Couldn’t finish it, though, as we’d filled up on that delicious bread.
Make sure you try their Turkish wines, by the way. This was a Kalecik Karası – a grape and wine made from the grape from the Ankara region. Went well with my dish.
On our second visit, we started out with a house specialty, Mercimek Çorbası:Billed as the “best in the City,” it was a lentil soup with a spicy pepper paste, and little hints of cumin and mint. Smoky goodness.
The gentlemen at the table next to us had the Türk Salatasi, and it looked so inviting we just had to have it too…Rather like a Greek salad, it had chunks of tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, red onion, kalamata olives, and parsley in a lemony vinaigrette, and again garnished with sumac. Super fresh! I crunched my way through almost the entire bowl.
For my main, I decided on a small hot mezze (appetizer) plate, the prawns…The Peynirli Karides – prawns sautéed with tomatoes and garlic in a pepperoncini sauce and topped with feta, this dish was probably one of the weakest. Rather like scampi but lacking pizzazz.
The BF’s main dish was another kebab, but with a twist…The meat came wrapped in a lavas bread, topped with tomato and garlicky yogurt sauces with roasted veggies. Another stand-out dish completely unknown to us.
Our neighbors, who told us they drive in from Sacramento every few months and make a bee-line to Tuba, generously offered us a bite of their dessert, and who am I to say no? It was the house specialty, the Kunefe – a shredded phylo dough, filled with sweet cheese and apricots, baked, and then topped with a syrup, pistachio nuts and ice cream. Decadent! We were too full to get our own but I’m so glad we got to taste it.
And that describes Tuba to a “tee” – a neighborhood place where people feel free to share bites with you, have a chat, and enjoy this wonderful cuisine. The menu is extensive, and it’s the kind of place I’d be happy to take visiting friends or relatives. How lucky we are to have this ethnic outpost in our backyard. We’ll be back.
Tuba Authentic Turkish Restaurant
1007 Guerrero St.
San Francisco, CA 94110