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When travel and food writers (yeah, I’m both) hate to write about a place or a restaurant, it’s usually because we think … It’s just perfect the way it is. God, I hate to spoil things by telling the world about it.

Though I think Troya is a splendid San Francisco restaurant, that’s not why I hate to write about it.

Why I hate to tell the world about Troya is because that’s where we go to watch Golden State Warriors play basketball. We grab the last two seats at the counter, the ones closest to the TV, order our first course and a glass of Talbot pinot noir, and start cheering/groaning/high-fiving/weeping — all the stages of grief and relief that Warriors’ fans experience in nearly every game.

I don’t want to tell the world about Troya because I don’t want you to take our seats.

But responsibility calls. Troya, in the beating heart of San Francisco’s Fillmore Street, is a Turkish-Mediterranean delight. The wait-staff are friendly, smart and food-wise. The room is quiet (except for our groans and hand-slaps) enough for real conversation. The prices are San Francisco reasonable. The dishes are generously sized and perfectly seasoned. And the desserts … we’ll come to the desserts.

But start with the Turkish trio dips: hummus, yogurt, and red pepper, ($18). If you’re alone, choose one for $7; with the accompanying pita, this is one filling starter.

For mains, I like the harissa spiced meatballs ($18) and Effin loves the vegetable moussaka ($17.50).

As for desserts, at most Mediterranean or Turkish or Middle Eastern restaurants, I avoid them; they’re too sweet for my palate. At Troya, they’re a knockout. The kunefe is a warm, baked, sweet and cheesy pastry big enough for two or more. Ditto the sutlac, a Turkish rice pudding. It comes sprinkled with cinnamon and almonds. They’re each $9. And aromatically delicious.

Troya: 2125 Fillmore Street, San Francisco. Sunday-Thursday 11a.m.-9:30 p.m.Friday & Saturday open till 10 p.m.  https://www.troyasf.comand 415 563-1000

Go Warriors!



Andy Warhol: Beyond the Soup Can

If you ask anybody to name the most famous contemporary (OK, almost contemporary) artist, nine times out of ten, they’ll say, “Andy Warhol.”

They’ll be right. Between the Campbell’s soup cans, the Marilyn Monroe portraits, the Brillo Pad boxes, and Warhol’s saucy blonde wig, he was the most outrageous, most innovative and most game-changing artist of the late 20th century.

Through September 2, SFMOMA is celebrating Warhol big time.  The mega-exhibit covers most of one floor of the museum and parts of two others. All the classics are there, including those famous/infamous cans, along with Warhol’s sketches, self-portraits, movies, books, posters, TV shows and more. Tell your readers to book early — everybody wants to see Andy Warhol—From A to B and Back Again.



The most exciting exhibit I’ve seen this year is at MoAD, Museum of the African Diaspora. Coffee, Rhum, Sugar & Gold will run through August 11. 

          Though I approach anything subtitled “A Post-Colonial Paradox” gingerly, in this case I should have let my guard down. It’s not doctrinaire, not a visual polemic — the show is filled with real art; some of it, extraordinary art. 

Visually, it’s a treat for the eyes; thematically, a challenge to the mind. And while it “looks at the legacy of European colonialism in the Caribbean through the work of 10 contemporary artists,” it does so through colorful, creative art, not a hit on the head with a sledge hammer.

          For your readers visiting San Francisco, I recommend starting at MoAD, then bouncing to its two neighbors, SFMOMA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the CJM, Contemporary Jewish Museum. That’s one full, art-filled day.


Looking to buy in a quiet area with spectacular views, beautifully kept lawns, bubbling fountains and sparkling ponds? And never hear a word of complaint from your next-door neighbor?

Look no further than Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. Plots are currently available for $5,000 to $8,000 for a single grave. If money is no object, check out a primo plot where $400,000 will buy you a modest, uninhabited mausoleum. Renowned residents who are already “committed” to the Mountain View community include architects Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan, J. A. Folger (the coffee guy) and Domingo Ghirardelli of chocolate fame. For more name-dropping, the cemetery was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted whose landscape designs include Central Park in New York City, the Stanford University Quad, and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Although it’s privately owned, the cemetery is open to the public. Dog walkers, picnickers, and lovers out for a sunset stroll are frequent visitors. Docent-led tours begin at 10 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month and last about two hours. For a private tour, contact Kristie Ly (510) 658-2588. For all tour options, check the website.


Confess — unless you’re Asian, you don’t know what a tiffin is, do you?

Confession — neither did we.

Resolution — a tiffin is:

  1. A Scottish cake that’s not baked.
  2. A town in Ohio.
  3. A multi-layered lunch pail.
  4. All of the abo — yes, of course; 4’s the right answer.

But in San Francisco, 3 is righter still. Since June, 2018, Le Colonial(see that entry) has been serving Sunday night tiffin dinners. In this French-accented Vietnamese restaurant, tiffin is another way of saying family-style.

Here’s how it works. You’re handed a menu, from which the table must choose Tiffin Dinner 1 (three tiers, $19 per person) or 2 (four tiers, $29 per person). Then —and here’s where it gets tricky — all tablemates have to agree on one course from each tier. Spring rolls or crab cake. Curry shrimp or lemongrass chicken. Garlic noodles or fried rice. And so forth.

Agreement reached, food ordered, and a few minutes later, the waiter appears, carrying a stack of round, stainless steel containers. He deconstructs them and passes them around the table.

We chose the coconut-crusted crab cake, jumbo shrimp curry, wok-fried jasmine rice and green beans with shitake mushroom garlic oyster sauce. Followed by, for six dollars, a flourless cake dessert.

Delicious. All delicious. And served in the tropical, old Vietnam, wicker chairs and ceiling fans that is Le Colonial, a San Francisco gem.