Sunday, August 4, 2013

ALAÇATI VACATION 2013 Part 4: Lavanta, Mi Casa, Noni'nin Meyhanesi & 35'lik Meyhanesi

Dear Readers,

Greetings from Istanbul! After a whirlwind 20 days (started out as 14!) in Alaçatı, Çeşme on the lovely Aegean coast in Turkey, I returned to Istanbul late Monday night and I'm not kidding when I say that Luka and I were so wiped out after very little sleep (I don't go on vacation to sleep!) during our vacation (yes Luka was always up late too!) that I'm just getting my bearings although I've been back home a week now!

Luka and me on last day of vacation at Alaçatı Kapari Hotel
I had every intention of writing the remaining posts I've planned to write earlier on, but unfortunately other things got in the way - from housecleaning and running errands to preparing a project for a customer to catching up with my cousin and his family who came to visit Istanbul from the USA to it being my birthday yesterday!

In this post, I will write about 4 more restaurants I visited in Alaçatı during this trip. Except for one, I hadn't gone to the other places on my previous visits to Alaçatı (have been going every year since 1999) and I was happy to "discover" some new places... I am going to prepare this post alphabetically, so here goes! 

Lavanta, which means lavender in Turkish has been around for about 10 years. Two years ago they moved from the crowded Kemalpaşa Street to a lovely restored building right off of Hacımemiş on a quiet street. 
Lavanta Restaurant @ 2000 Sokak No. 24 Alaçatı
My sister and I (and most of our other friends) were notorious for not making reservations for dinner in Alaçatı (except at Fogo) because we never knew what time we would go out to eat! So, after some friends recommended Lavanta and after we found out that Şebnem, an acquaintance of ours was now managing the restaurant, we went to Lavanta for the first time on July 18. We enjoyed it so much that we went once again on July 21st after my brother-in-law arrived. 

First I want to give an overview of the eatery. Upon entering there is a small indoor bar and a private indoor dining room to the right... Since Lavanta is open year round, it makes sense! Also, it's a good space for a large group year-round.
Indoor dining room
From the bar, you enter the small outdoor alcove that can probably seat up to 20-25 people with a small open kitchen on the left hand side.

Since we were only 2 people and it was a week night, we were able to get a table. Don't let the pictures fool you... Lavanta is dimly lit, so I had to photoshop most of the pictures! Also, there is a door that leads out to a side street from the alcove and there are a couple of tables there too.

The menu is posted on the wall and my sister and I went to town ordering a whole bunch of appetizers and one main course to share...
Lavanta's menu posted on the wall

Unfortunately I was able to take only two pictures of the food - between the lighting and just devouring our food, I totally forgot to take pictures! We ordered "frambuaz soslu börülce (sea beans (samphire) prepared with raspberry sauce) - incredible!; "tahinli patlıcan" (eggplant in tahini sauce) - scrumptious!; "bahçe salatası" (garden salad) to die for!; "karides börek" (pastry stuffed with shrimp) - delicious; and "otlu anneanne köftesi" (grandma's meatballs with herbs), which was crispy on the outside and moist in the center - so good!! Lavanta has a young woman chef and she is a very talented chef! 

Garden Salad at Lavanta 

Of course after all this food, we didn't have room for dessert and I just had a glass of wine and my sister a beverage at dinner and then coffee to cap off our night. I can truly say we had an incredible meal that when we went back the second time, we did make a reservation to make sure we got a table and this time, we ordered everything but the sea beans and also ordered "enginar and kabak çiçegi tempura" (artichoke and zucchini blossoms tempura) very light and flaky and "bonfile dilimleri ispanak yatağında" (tenderloin of beef slices on a bed of sauteed spinach) cooked to perfection and very tender! This time we also ordered a bottle of wine (pretty decent wine list and moderate prices) and literally rolled out of there! 

Tel: (0232) 716 68 91

Mi Casa
Definitely make a reservation before going to Mi Casa because more than likely, you won't get a table!

Although Mi Casa is quite spacious and now with tables also outside of the main alcove, it is highly popular and always packed. You can also stop by for a drink at their expansive bar, but the bar is usually crowded too! Our first attempt, of course without reservations was unsuccessful, but the second time we tried on July 17th (Wednesday), we did luck out because we got there after 10pm and we were only two people! 

Mi Casa has been around for about 5 years and is also located on a quiet street off of Kemalpaşa Street (the main street in Alaçatı). I've been to Mi Casa many times through the years and in fact, celebrated my birthday there with a group of my friends.

I've always enjoyed Mi Casa for its atmosphere, good food, decent prices and excellent service. Since it was very late, my sister and I each had two appetizers and a glass of wine each...

Grilled octopus
goat cheese, beets, balsamic sauce and almonds
We each had grilled octopus, Meltem had a grilled chicken salad and I had the goat cheese and beets which was quite interesting, but I think it would have been better if the balsamic sauce had a bit more of a kick! (I do love spicy food)

1026 Sokak No. 3 Alaçatı
Tel: (0232) 716 60 75

Noni'nin Meyhanesi
If you haven't made a reservation ,f you want to go to a trendy or popular restaurant for dinner on a Saturday night, you are pretty much out of luck! Remember, I mentioned above that my sister and I are notorious for this, mainly because we go to the "beaches" in mid-afternoon and by the time we get back to house/hotel and get ready to go out, we can not make a reservation upfront as we probably wouldn't make it and only make reservations for nights we don't hit the beaches during the day.

On a Saturday night - July 20th, my sister, brother-in-law and I didn't get to downtown Alaçatı till about 9pm! That's when we discovered Noni'nin Meyhanesi!

We were going to meet friends at Fogo Bar later in the evening, but we were starving and wanted to have a decent meal. Also, we don't prefer eating at eateries right on Kemalpaşa Street especially on weekends, as the street is wall to wall people and you can't walk let alone enjoy a meal at a restaurant as people pass by right on top of you and jostle your chair!

But, the location of Noni'nin Meyhanesi on Kemalpaşa Street is away from the hustle and bustle of the main area and a short distance from Mi Casa...

Meyhane, which means tavern in Turkish is basically a place where you can listen to traditional Turkish music (live or recorded) and enjoy a whole host of appetizers, called meze and fish with rakı, the local alcoholic beverage of choice. One difference at this tavern is that Greek music is played and unfortunately from time to time, the cacophony of music from the next door bar also spills (typical in Alaçatı!) I guess you can say that the main difference between a "meyhane" and seafood restaurant in Turkey is the fact that there is no music at seafood restaurants and there are a bigger choice of appetizers at taverns...

The appetizers and fish in the open display looked decent, so we decided to try it out, and a "small world" that it is, it's owner Gökhan Tilkioğlu knows my brother-in-law from when he lived in Izmir in his youth! We found out from Gökhan that Noni'nin Meyhane is fairly new and not even a year-old and he manages the restaurant with his wife and daughter.

me, my sister Meltem and brother-in-law Ibrahim
I didn't get a chance to take pictures of the appetizers as we were too busy eating and had the typical "tavern" fare: white cheese (similar to feta), melon, eggplant puree, salad, etc. and we had the most incredible fried barbunya (red mullet)!

Fried Red Mullet at Noni'nin Meyhanesi
You would have thought they just caught the fish and plopped it in a pan to cook and served us! As you can see, the fish was served typical Turkish style: with a side of greens (usually arugula), lemon wedges and red onion.

So, with or without reservations, Noni'nin Meyhane is a nice spot to stop by for a quick (like what we did) or lingering meal away from the normal crowds on Kemalpaşa Street.

Kemalpaşa Caddesi No. 33 Alaçatı
GSM: (0533) 562 63 64

35'lik Meyhane

As you can see, I hit two "taverns" on my trip to Alaçatı and I went to this one twice!
35'lik Meyhane

35'lik Meyhane is on the other end of Kemalpaşa Street and once again on the "less crowded" side right next door to Sakızlıhan Boutique hotel. On July 24th, I made plans to get together with my dear friends the "Şahin" family. Didem is one of my best friends although we only met 1 1/2 years ago, her husband Selami is one of the most popular singers/composers in Turkey for over 30 years and I absolutely adore their 3 kids (two sons Lider and Emirhan and daughter Irem). We are neighbors in Istanbul and live in the same building. They too are major "Alaçatı lovers" and spend most of their summer vacation in Alaçatı and now are homeowners as well! 

35'lik Meyhane
On the night we got together for dinner, they took me to this tavern which they had discovered a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed very much. The tavern has seating on the street, but also has a lovely garden if you prefer more privacy and that's where we sat...

35'lik Meyhane Garden
As with other taverns, the appetizers and fish were showcased in an open display and I noticed that they had an incredible number of choices compared to others. I cannot begin to tell you how many types of appetizers (about 10!) we had and I didn't get a chance to take pictures of most of them, but did get in a few... I loved them all, but one of my favorites was the "kaşık salatası" (spoon salad) which was so so spicy but so so good! I guess they call this "kaşık salatası" because it is so juicy that you need a spoon to scoop up the juice or you can just dip your bread in it!)

Kaşık Salatası (Spoon Salad)
A couple of other pictures I took was of the "ahtapot tandır" (octopus tandoori) and "karides güveç" (baked shrimp topped with kasari (yellow) cheese)

We also had dessert and although the picture might not look so great, it was delicious and the house special although unfortunately I can't remember the name! But it was made with sponge cake, vanilla frosting and topped with almonds, pistachios on a bed of raspberry sauce and some chocolate sauce. Talk about decadent! 
House special dessert at 35'lik Meyhane
So, once again since I had an enjoyable evening with the Şahin family and my sister and brother-in-law stopped by after dinner to pick us up to all go to Fogo Bar (notice I keep on mentioning this place... I wrote about Fogo earlier on my trip, but will definitely be writing about it again later on) and they too wanted to try this tavern, so we returned the very next night! We didn't make a reservation and arrived late around 10pm and this time, we sat on the street side, but didn't go crazy overloading on many appetizers and ate lighter with more cold appetizers (white cheese, melon, eggplant puree, artichoke puree) and an order of grilled calamari which were all very good too.

One final note, it is called "35'lik" because when you order rakı by the bottle, it comes in two sizes: the small bottle is 35 cl and the large 70 cl! So, you would say, give me a "35"er or "70"er!

Kemalpaşa Caddesi No. 110 Alaçatı
Tel: (0232) 716 07 97

In Part 2 of my blog post I had written about Fogo and Ferdi Baba and added 4 more restaurants because throughout my entire stay, I only ate out at 6 restaurants, some twice and on other evenings either had dinner at friends homes or a quick bite at my hotel, Alaçatı Kapari Hotel (if you haven't read my post on the hotel, I highly suggest you do if planning on visiting the area).

In my next post(s), I will give you info on several cafes I visited for snacks or cocktails, a couple of beaches and will also do another write up on Fogo.

And... since I had such a fantastic time in Alaçatı where I also made some new friends, I decided to re-visit Alaçatı in the latter part of August instead of going to Bodrum, so I'll probably discover and write about some new places then... keep following me!  

Stay well,


  1. Thank you! I usually don't get comments from my readers :(( So... it's nice to get a comment which is very motivational for writers/bloggers!!