Monday, August 11, 2014

Alaçatı 2014: Where I Ate: Casual & Cafe Style

Dear readers,

In my previous post about my trip to Alaçatı, I wrote about the fine dining restaurants I visited... I hope you had a chance to read it and more importantly, if visiting Alaçatı, I hope you get a chance to try these very good restaurants.

In this post, I will share the restaurants I went to that are more casual and moderately priced for your outings with your friends or family. Once again, all of these restaurants and cafes are in Alaçatı... for some reason, in the two weeks I was there, I didn't get a chance to venture out of Alaçatı to visit other restaurants in the Çeşme peninsula.

Happy dining and bon apetit!


Kaptan'ın Yeri
I must have passed in front of this restaurant (Sea Captain's Place in English) countless times on my trip to Alaçatı in the past 15 years, but this is the first time I tried it out! 

This modest seafood restaurant is always packed and has tables on both sides of the pedestrian walk that leads to Kemalpaşa Street... the popular pedestrian only street lined with street vendors, restaurants, cafes and boutiques.  

The prices are incredibly modest and the food extraordinarily good! Don't expect much on ambiance or excellent service, but you are definitely bound to have a good meal!

I went for dinner with my sister and brother-in-law and we started out with typical Turkish meze (appetizers) to include melon and white cheese (beyaz peynir), mixed Mediterranean greens salad and eggplant salad prepared with olive oil...

Next up, we ordered fish!

I ordered grilled sea bream (only 15 TL! ... okay it was farm fed, but I honestly couldn't tell the difference because it was cooked to perfection); my sister had fried sardines (12 TL) and my brother-in-law had fried red mullet (since this was fresh sea fish it was 50 TL) and we shared an order of the best fried calamari (20 TL) I had in a long time!

The restaurant only serves one brand of wine (in single serving bottle by a Turkish winemaker at 15 TL), beer and rakı and a selection of soft drinks. 

So, if you want to have a quick dinner (not a place for a long leisurely dinner), I can say this is a good choice... but be prepared to wait for a table as it is always packed and reservations are not accepted.


Kydonia, with a branch in Istanbul for the past several years (on the 2nd floor of Incirli Şaraphane), is a wonderful wonderful seafood restaurant at the Port Alaçatı Marina.

Located on the waters edge at the Marina, this spacious restaurant has the most incredible selection of scrumptious hot and cold meze, that we totally went to town and ordered an incredible amount of meze! 
Kydonia /Port Alaçatı Marina
I went to Kydonia with my friends Mehmet and Mark who live in NYC and who were visiting Alaçatı for the first time (and they loved it!) and two friends they met on this trip... and it was their last night in town before going back home!

First, we visited the expansive display that showcased over 30 types of cold meze! They all looked so good and we ordered a bunch of different Aegean style treats, but only one portion of each and decided to re-order if necessary (and it was). Then we ordered a few different kinds of hot appetizers at the suggestion of our waiter...

Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of the food we ate only because there wasn't sufficient lighting and I don't like to post food photographs that are not as 'appetizing' to the eye as their tastes!

I cannot begin to tell you how much we ate, but we for some reason, we still had room to share one fish... a grilled red sea bream which was absolutely divine! And... maybe hard to believe, but we also ordered dessert and fresh fruit!

typical Turkish desserts at Kydonia 
Add to this 2 bottles of wine, extra wine by the glass and coffee... we paid 150 TL each (before tip!)... talk about a modest bill!

I highly recommend Kydonia and from now on, I will go there more often on my trips to Alaçatı... unfortunately until this visit, I hadn't gone in over 3 years! Talk about a major mistake!!!

Those familiar with Istanbul must have heard about a very popular restaurant called Banyan (Asian fusion) overlooking the Bosphorus in Ortaköy... Kydonia is also owned by the same group that owns Banyan. Besides these 2 popular spots, they also own Incirli Şaraphane and (see my post on this winehouse) and La Mancha Restaurant - all located in Istanbul.

I highly recommend a night out at Kydonia with your family or friends. You definitely won't be disappointed. The food, service and ambiance is excellent. I suggest you make reservations, especially on weekends. 

Tel: (0232) 716 07 65

Sailors Meydan (Square) is one of the most popular places in Alaçatı to go to for breakfast,all day casual dining or even for just drinks or beverages.

Sailors Meydan/Alaçatı
Located on a corner on Kemalpaşa Street, Sailors is also a boutique hotel. Tge cafe is usually full, but it is easier getting a spot under the awning away from the hit midday. I happen to be in town to visit a friend and stopped by for a quick lunch afterwards at around 2:30pm. 

I have been to Sailors many times and have tried the typical Turkish breakfast with all the fixings, but this was the first time I was ordering from their cafe menu. 

I'm skeptical about ordering salads at most cafes... I'm usually not happy with the quality of the greens, dressing or other ingredients used, but I took a risk and ordered a "Beef Tenderloin Salad"...

Beef Tenderloin Salad @ Sailors Meydan
and... it was excellent! Everything was just right! The greens and tomatoes were very fresh... the dressing just right (didn't have to add anything) and the beef tenderloin very tasty!

As I mentioned earlier, during the peak hours (early morning, late afternoon and evening) it's not easy getting a table at Sailors Meydan... so be prepared to wait for a table and I hope you like animals... because you might have to share your space with our friendly 4-legged friends! 

4-legged friends at Sailors Meydan
Kemalpaşa Caddesi No. 66 Alaçatı
Tel: (0232) 716 87 65


Surf Point/Taos Beach Cafe

This is one place I would not have "discovered" if it wasn't for my nephew Arman.

Nephew Arman, brother-in-law Ibrahim, me and sis Meltem (left to right)

Surf Point, as you might have gathered is a Windsurf School in Alaçatı and literally a 5 minute drive from my hotel and steps from the Port Alaçatı Marina as well.

My nephew loves all sorts of watersports and decided that after a 2 year-break he wanted to take up windsurfing again. So, we took him to the school to sign him up for a 2-week group class and at the same time, he took a class that very day with a private trainer to brush up before starting his classes.

So, while waiting for him, we sat at Taos Cafe on the waterfront. It was around lunchtime and we would hungry, so we asked to see the menu.

We were pleasantly surprised that the quality of the food was much better than we would have expected at such a "no frills" cafe at a windsurf school.

Taos Beach Cafe @ Surfpoint/Alaçatı
I ordered a grilled white cheese sandwich, while my sister, brother-in-law and nephew ordered fried sardines (forgot to take photo) followed by chocolate cake for my nephew... all were very very good and the prices very modest. 

A popular Turkish "street" food is stuffed mussels and you will notice street vendors like the person above selling these delectable delights at beaches throughout the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. As if we didn't eat enough food, after tasting this vendor's delicacies, we decided to treat ourselves by ordering a couple of dozen!

Don't feel you need to be a "windsurfer" to visit Taos... you can also sunbathe on the chaises in front of the sea or take a dip in the crystal clear waters - of course, away from the windsurfers!

Taşköy Restaurant

This newcomer is located in the Hacımemiş District in Alaçatı and is right next door to the popular Taşköy pastry shop... both eateries, as well as Taşköy Hotel are owned and managed by my 2nd cousin Sevim Ertan! 

A retired MD, and as if her plate wasn't full enough with the hotel and pastry shop, Sevim took over the restaurant next door... changed the name and menu and got into the restaurant business this year!

I ate at Taşköy twice - first time with my sister and brother-in-law and really enjoyed the food and modest prices... we ordered a few appetizers and I ordered grill shrimp as my main course...

Then Sevim invited us to dinner where we had a little "family reunion" with my other 2nd cousin Ayla and her husband Metin....

Sevim Ertan, Metin, brother-in-law Ibrahim, sis Meltem, cousin Ayla & me (left to right)
We left the ordering to Sevim and after starting off with wine & cheese, our meal consisted of a variety of appetizers and main courses... and I'm not saying this because it's my cousin's place... but everything was delicious and the quality of the ingredients very very good!

appetizers @ Taşköy Restaurant

Main courses @ Taşköy Restaurant
I'm sure if you try Taşköy Restaurant, you will enjoy it as much as we did... we already sent some of our friends to try it out and they too enjoyed their evening in casual surroundings!

I recommend that you make reservations, especially on weekends...

GSM: (0532) 242 47 40

My next and final post on my trip to Alaçatı this year will be about the beach clubs I went too... but I won't be able to post this article for awhile as I'm off on another vacation! This time to Bodrum... another wonderful coastal town along the Aegean Sea ... and of course, I will also be sharing my recommendations on Bodrum with you as well!

Stay well,

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Alaçatı 2014: Where I Ate: Fine Dining Picks/Club 29; Kapari Bahçe & MaNCar

Dear readers,

"Alaçatı 2014: Where I Stayed" was Part 1 of a 3-part series I plan on posting about my trip to the lovely Aegean coastline in Turkey: specifically Alaçatı on the Çeşme Peninsula.

I was in Alaçatı for two weeks a couple of weeks ago & we pretty much dined out every evening... some to places I went to last year (please refer to my write-ups on dining places in 2013), so I do not want to write about them again. However, my favorite place for dining, wining, dancing and socializing last year was Fogo, but unfortunately... and I don't know why... this fine dining elegant, yet cozy eatery is no longer open. 

So, let's get to my list of places for a "fine dining" experience for you to try this year... and I will try to keep it short & sweet and use the pics to do the talking! The next post will be about the places I went to for casual and cafe style dining and I plan on posting my picks in a couple of days.

Happy dining and bon apetit! 

Club 29 Alaçatı

If you are an Istanbulite, then "Club 29" (Ulus 29 in Istanbul) is not a new name or brand, but it is new to Alaçatı!

Last year the ever popular posh fine dining Ulus 29 opened a "summer" branch in Göltürkbükü, Bodrum and this year decided to move the branch to Alaçatı and I'm happy they did!

Club 29 is located on the waterfront along the road that leads to the Port Alaçatı Marina (about 1 mile before), alongside the ultra deluxe Port Alaçatı residences.

It is an elegant bar/restaurant and open only in the evenings. After walking down a flight of stairs ad once you pass the expansive lounge/bar area....

... an area right by the water has been sectioned out for the restaurant...

I went to Club 29 for dinner with my sister and brother-in-law on a Monday night and most of the tables were full with diners.

The menu is quite extensive and includes favorites from Ulus 29's menu in Istanbul, but also includes many dishes from Italian and Thai cuisines. Prices are not cheap (especially for mains), but it is definitely worth it because our meal was excellent.

We opted to order a bunch of appetizers and pasta and share which was an excellent decision and...

we enjoyed our meal with a bottle of Büyülübağ Reserve (Cabernet Sauvignon) wine... we had Moules Marinieri (absolutely delicious,!); pasta with lobster; breasola with asparagus; beetroot & hellumi cheese salad; and the most outrageous gyoza shrimp dumplings! 

Loved the atmosphere... loved the food... loved the service... loved the music...just my kind of place for a fine dining experience!


Final note: the building in the background is under construction and will be a hotel opening next year... when it does, Club 29 plans on being open during the day time too. 

Reservations are a must! Tel: (0232) 716 03 03 

If the name sounds familiar, it should! Kapari Bahçe's property is owned by the owners of Kapari Alaçatı Hotel and the restaurant managed by Banu Maga and her husband (Banu is the owner of Bazen, a wonderful boutique with all sorts of name brand accessories, clothing and more and right next door).

Kapari Bahçe opened this year and last year at the same spot was a casual cafe with sandwiches, etc. managed by the Kapari Hotel, but this year it went through a major transformation and has quickly become a popular spot in the neighborhood of Hacımemiş for a fine dining experience in casual, yet elegant surroundings.

I had dinner at Kapari Bahçe twice and stopped by for cocktails in the late evening several times.

The menu includes a nice selection of hot/cold appetizers (Turkish & Greek style) and main courses and the restaurant's chef is Greek.

Among the appetizers, we tried the beetroot salad, Aegean greens with olive oil, grilled saganaki-mastello cheese; Horiatiki salad, etc... 

Among the mains, we tried the moussaka and "anneanne köfte" (grandma's meatballs). The moussaka on the 1st visit was better than on the second visit though.

The food was very good and prices for appetizers are between 15-35 TL and main courses between 28-52 TL. The restaurant's wine list is limited and includes selections from Turkish brands Suvla, Prodom and Urla... but does have an extensive choice of cocktails.

Me with Banu Maga 

Reservations are highly recommended and Kapari Bahçe is open only during the evening. Tel: (0232) 716 00 94


MaNCar (no, this is not a typo... this is how the eatery writes its name on their website) is also a newcomer and is located in a lovely spacious garden with an open kitchen and nice-sized bar. The chef is Spanish, the sous chef Italian and their is also a full-time Turkish chef. 

I visited MaNCar on my 2nd night in Alaçatı with my sister, brother-in-law, my two friends Mehmet & Mark from NYC and their two friends from the U.K. so we were a diverse group. We are all "foodies" one way or the other, so we all had our own opinion... but the general consensus was..."it's a lovely and elegant restaurant with wonderful service, great music, excellent presentation, but while some dishes were quite good, some others need some work"

We tried some of their appetizers...

to include shrimp w/special cream, almonds, pine nuts
rice noodles & flying fish caviar (excellent); grilled calamari (very good), baked seasonal vegetables with marinated anchovies & goat cheese (good - served cold, but I thought there were too much onions) and we were all served an "amouse bouche" which was cucumber juice topped with plain yogurt... interesting taste. 

For our mains...

we tried the sea bass (a little dry); duck breast (I definitely made a bad choice... it was tough and chewy... I know it is very difficult getting good duck in Turkey), but the highlight was the veal fillet - cooked to perfection and very very good.

We tried two desserts...

While the Moist Chocolate Cake with caramelized hazelnuts, banana ice cream and red fruit juice was enjoyed by all; the Almond Cake with cardamom foam, spicy caramel (I think this was the problem) and mastic ice cream was a different taste and not preferred as much.

About the wine list... it's very very good with a wide selection of Turkish wines by a number of wine producers at modest prices.

I believe that MaNCar is worth a visit and I'm looking forward to trying it again on my next visit to Alaçatı. I suggest you visit their website for detailed information:it also includes the menu and wine list. 

Reservations are highly recommended. Tel: (0232) 716 97 67;

Stay well,

Alaçatı Vacation 2014: Where I stayed: Alaçatı Kapari Hotel revisited!

Dear readers,

After a wonderful two week vacation in Alaçatı, Çeşme on the beautiful Aegean coastline in Turkey in mid-July (around the same dates I went last year), I returned to Istanbul about two weeks ago.

It took me about a week to get my legs back from running around day/night on vacation (not a spring chicken anymore, but can still tough it out with those much younger than me) and then another week to sort, photoshop and put my pictures in order for my blog posts about my trip!

So, now I'm raring to go and will share "my" Alaçatı vacation with you!


Although my sister and brother-in-law have a home in Ilıca, Çeşme (another district on the Çeşme peninsula and about 10 minutes away from Alaçatı), for the past three years, I have been staying at hotels in Alaçatı. Why Alaçatı? Well, first I'm very close to the sea... I prefer to stay at boutique hotels ... and the hotels I prefer must accept pets as I always take Luka with me on my long vacations: "Pet friendly" hotels are very few in Çeşme. Why do I stay at a hotel? Because, I feel "a vacation is not a vacation if you have to cook, clean and do your own bed" and when you stay with family or friends, you do definitely have to pitch in! 

So, for the 2nd year in a row, I booked a room (and the room I stayed in last year) at the Kapari Alaçatı Hotel and I'm so happy I did!

In fact, I went back to Alaçatı in August 2013 for a week (this time without Luka) and stayed at this hotel again with a good friend of mine. This time we stayed in a room on the upper level which was a duplex with a living room (with fold-out bed), kitchen, 2 full bathrooms and a bedroom).

Please refer to my post from last year for detailed info on this lovely boutique hotel as I don't want to repeat myself too much.

In summary, I love the tranquility and peace of this 3 year-old family run hotel. I also like the fact that the rooms are very spacious and my room on the garden level in front of the swimming pool also has a small living room area with a couch (Luka's bed)! 

Some of the staff from last year had changed (since the hotel is not open year-round, they too have the same problems that most hotels that are open seasonally have), but the ones who knew me well (and knew what I liked) were still around! 

The guests at the hotel are a mix of Turks and foreigners and once again, I met some very nice people this year from all over Turkey and some cities in Europe. Luka had some "friends" to frolic with from time to time too and since this was a "repeat" visit for himi he basically liked to hang out in the shade or eat his treats in the garden... when he wasn't snoozing in our room with the A/C on! Sometimes, it did get a little too hot for him.

My favorite time at the hotel was breakfast and I ate so much every day that most of the time it held me through dinner!

Here, like at other hotels throughout Turkey, you will be offered a typical Turkish breakfast which consists of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers along with a variety of Turkish cheeses, olives, homemade jams, all sorts of fruit, scrumptious daily baked breads, pastries and of course eggs to your liking! The hotel also has an a la carte menu for all-day dining (burgers, salads, mains, etc.)

Luka and I usually got to breakfast around 9:30-10:00am after taking our morning walk and then enjoy a leisurely breakfast with wonderful classical (tranquility) music as our background noise ...

Some days I would just hang out by the pool and relax, while on other days, I went to different beach clubs with my family and friends. 

One of the other great things that the hotel added this year was a free shuttle service to Alaçatı's main square (about 2-3 miles away) and to some of the beach clubs in the area on certain times of the day, which I used frequently in the evening to meet up with my friends so that they didn't have to drive to the hotel and pick me up each time. 

I have become fast friends with (Ms) Oluş Kızılagaç, the owner who came to the hotel every day, so we had many long chats and coffee together... I also met and enjoyed the company of the hotel's new General Manager (Ms) Çiğdem Oruntak, an ex-Istanbulite. 

So, everything was the same and "not" the same as last year. This year, I felt even more part of the Alaçatı Kapari Hotel family and know that it will be Luka and my "home away from home" in Alaçatı for years to come!

Stay well,