Each week, Patch picks a restaurant in Novato, Petaluma or San Rafael that is worth checking out. Here's this week's choice.
Afendi’s Turkish Grill
299 N McDowell Blvd., Petaluma, 707-763-1998
Open daily 10 a.m- 9 p.m.
Overview: In the past, I have dined many times at two San Francisco Turkish restaurants Troya and A La Turca, so I have a passing knowledge of the cuisine. Afendi’s, found in a shopping center with a Kmart and CVS Pharmacy and many other shops, serves hands down the best Turkish food I’ve experienced in the Bay Area.
Décor: One big room decorated with pictures of Turkey; placemats depicting the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul and a video screen showing educational videos of Turkish history, architecture and culture plays continuously.
Drinks: Free and unlimited tiny cups of Turkish tea, and also Turkish coffee. Sodas and wine and beer also on the menu.
Appetizers: If dining for two, the best way to go is the generous appetizer plate combo, or in Middle Eastern parlance, a mezza. This generous platter offers hummus (a chunky, mild chickpea spread); patlican salatasi (a roasted eggplant salad with balsamic vinegar); dolmas (stuffed grape leaves); tabouli (a bulgur salad with tons of parsley and a nice hit of garlic); piyaz (white bean salad); patates salatasi (potato salad); and my favorite, ezme (chopped vegetables with finely chopped walnuts and chili pepper, lemon and olive oil). It runs $13.95, and those can all be ordered separately. Wonderful breads and rolls made in-house, especially a long flat bread with black and white sesame seeds.
Entrees: A large cylinder of lamb and beef is on a skewer that revolves in front of a heat source. "Doner" in Turkish equals "gyro" in Greek. Meat is sliced from the cylinder and comes in a wrap or as a plate. A chicken gyro also is available.
The other main offering is kabobs — lamb, chicken, spiced ground lamb or in a combination plate. Falafel is also another treat.
I had the tasty lamb/beef gyro plate on toasted bread cubes topped with a tomato sauce and a yogurt sauce. (Afendi Iskender) $16.95.
There are several soups, salads and savory pies. Try spanakopita (spinach-Feta pie in phyllo dough); lentil soup flavored with mint; Greek salad; Feta cheese pie; and ground beef pie.
Desserts: There is Turkish rice pudding, but almost everyone gets the housemade pistachio or walnut baklava. Sweet semolina cake is sometimes available.
Service: Warm and homey
Cost: Entrees $11-$17
Disabled accessible: Yes.
Noise level: Can talk easily.