A La Turka: Turkish Kitchen

Katia Pavlyuk

Among dozens of Italian restaurants, Irish pubs and chain establishments in Lincoln Park and Lakeview, it’s truly a rarity to find a Turkish restaurant. Located steps away from the intersection of Lincoln and Belmont, A La Turka: Turkish Kitchen has become a Chicago staple for authentic Turkish cuisine and great entertainment. The restaurant’s engaging atmosphere makes its customers comfortable while celebrating all types of events, whether it’s a birthday party, romantic dinner or a leisurely night out with friends.

Despite the ongoing political debate on whether Turkey is a European or Middle Eastern country, A La Turka shows no such boundaries in its food. Specializing mainly in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, A La Turka strives to prepare the best foods from both worlds. The cuisine has been influenced by diverse culinary styles, some ranging from areas once encompassed by the Ottoman Empire. This restaurant brings together the different regions of modern Turkey with its eclectic fare.

Appetizing spread at A La Turka

My waiter Fatos said, “The Meza Platter is really popular dish, no one really knows for sure who came up with it, but it does have combinations of different Mediterranean appetizers from different cultures.” The Turkish Meza Platter is really a good way to introduce Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine for people who have never had this type of food in the past. This substantially sized dish gives patrons the opportunity to pick five individual appetizers from a wide selection for just $22. A popular choice is the Feta Cheese and Olive Platter. Although this dish looks very similar to the ones often served in Greek restaurants, this dish is served with Turkish feta cheese. Mediterranean Eggplant, Stuffed Grape Leaves and Humus are also possible choices for the platter. These appetizers are not exclusive to Turkish menus; they are featured on various Middle Eastern menus as well. The best thing about Turkish cuisine is its ‘flexibility’. It offers a wide variety of lamb, chicken and beef Kebab, but also carries rich vegetarian dishes that are often too tempting not to try.  A La Turka uses eggplant, peppers, zucchinis, toasted almond and Turkish kasari cheese to transform these vegetables into real food art. Eggplant Istanbul and Eggplant A la Turka are only two examples of these culinary masterpieces.

The restaurant is designed to really represent the diverse Turkish culture. “The furnishings are all imported from Istanbul,” Fatos revealed about the interior design. The ceilings are decorated by long sheets of canvas, which drop down creating the atmosphere of dining inside an old style Ottoman tent. There are also floor-sitting tables, which are very significant to the Turkish tradition; they are all decorated by embroidered pillows of Turkish design. The whole setting is softly lit, with a lot of flame lamps complimenting the red colors of paintings and brick walls. The floors of the restaurant are covered with authentic ornamented carpets, which make the restaurant look even more charming. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that A La Turka’s ambiance is always low-key and relaxing.

Authentic low-sitting tables

This restaurant becomes a huge spectacle during the weekend. One thing that contributes to its popularity is their weekly belly-dancing shows. Some of the most talented female dancers come to entertain the crowds. And this really does bring a whole new aspect to dining that many people have never been privileged to enjoy. The dancers give attention to every table, and the customers are always invited to join them in this traditional Turkish dance style. So don’t hesitate. Make a reservation and experience the Turkish culture at A la Turka: Turkish Kitchen first hand.

Check it out:

3134 North Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
(Belmont/Ashland/Lincoln Intersection)

Published in: on 05/02/2010 at 5:05 PM  Leave a Comment