Walking into Café Turko in Fremont is rather like entering a Turkish bazaar. Multicolored lanterns hang from the wall. Jewelry, prayer rugs and books are arrayed on counters.
All those items are for sale. But the main reason to visit this former rug emporium is the delicious cuisine, served from a long counter to more than a half dozen dining tables in the bright, cheerful room.
The menu: Fresh vegetable dishes, a rainbow assortment of hummus dips, chicken and lamb kebabs, and savory and sweet pastries are popular items on a large, inviting menu with plenty of veggie and vegan options among the platters, appetizers, pita sandwiches and desserts. Breakfast is served, too, and what other Seattle cafe invites you to start the day with Turkish chocolate and vanilla halvah (a tahini-based candy) atop a warm pita?
What to write home about: For starters, a fragrant, homey lentil soup ($4/cup; $6/bowl), and some ultra-fresh, tasty salads to share, like the Anatolian with peppers, cucumbers, olives, boiled egg, feta and a mint-lemon dressing ($8.50). The Ali Nazik platter nestles succulent kebabs against mounds of rice and grilled eggplant, served with garlic-yogurt sauce ($11/chicken; $14/lamb). Exotic beet or yam hummus is worth trying ($6), and the Zeytinli Pide, one of several kinds of gondola-shaped Turkish pizzas, tops a pillowy baked crust with cheeses, olives and fresh veggies ($8.50). House-made desserts include a delectable Kataif pastry, ricotta filling beneath a shredded wheat crust and pistachios ($6).
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The setting: The surroundings are charming, the vibe casual, the proprietors and waitstaff friendly. Service can be leisurely, so speak up if you’re in a hurry.
Summing up: A cup of lentil soup ($4); an Anatolian salad ($8.50); a chicken kebab platter ($11); a Kataif dessert ($6); a mint iced tea ($2.25) and a sour cherry lemonade ($3) fed two well for dinner, and came to $34.75 before tax and tip.
Misha Berson: firstname.lastname@example.org