This week Kristy Alpert heads east to Cafe Izmir.
Overview: Co-owners Mehdi Nazari, Ali Nazary, and Beau Nazary are on to something. More than 14 years ago they opened Café Izmir on a quest to bring quality Mediterranean food to Dallas. “The closest place to get good Mediterranean food before was in Los Angeles,” says Mehdi Nazari who came to Dallas from Persia. Two years after opening the doors, Café Izmir developed a loyal clientele for their magical mezze for lunch and prompted this family-owned establishment to open the Izmir Market & Deli a few doors down. Just like its sister restaurant, the market offers Mama Nazy’s recipes and an escape into a truly enchanting world.
Jump for more.
Also Mehdi is quite possibly the most adorable human being on the planet. He’s the type of guy you’d want to invite you over to his home for some homemade wine and fresh cheese made from his goat out back. His aversion to hummus makes him even more interesting, especially since Izmir claims to have the “best hummus in Dallas.” “The hummus here is my mama’s recipe,” Nazari says. “It’s the only hummus I will eat. It really is the best.”
Menu: The prices here are beyond reasonable. A Mediterranean cheese plate with feta, dolmas, pita bread, olives, nuts and fruit will only cost you $7.99, and their Mediterranean pizza on a seven-inch pita crust is $6.99 (toppings extra). Other must-try items are their chicken burger ($6.99) that comes with in-house ground chicken with no fat and no skin (just the way Mama made it), tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, mayo, onion and pesto stuffed inside a piece of pita bread. Their eegra (grilled eggplant dip) is another house specialty and comes in three different portion sizes ($4.99/$7.99/$15.99). They also have a fresh feta sandwich ($4.99), which sounds like the perfect Mediterranean sandwich for a hot day, with fresh feta cheese, roma tomatoes, cucumber and basil on warm pita bread.
What we ate: When someone claims to have the “best” something; I’m trying it. We walked in immediately and ordered a bowl of hummus ($4.99) and pita bread ($.60 per piece). With a self-proclaimed “hummus snob” by my side and her 2-year-old daughter with her own already-established affinity for the dip, I honestly wasn’t expecting them to be blown away. A resounding, “That is seriously the best hummus in Dallas,” was followed by “I want a burger” (guess who said what). My friend ordered a delightfully light, yet filling, Turkey Muffaletta ($5.99) with sliced turkey breast, green olive relish, dijon aoli and swiss cheese melted inside a warm fococcia bun, and a side of fresh fruit, while I chose the Lamb Gyro ($5.99) with baked lamb and beef spices, parsley, onions and ziziki sauce, rolled in pita bread, with a side Greek salad topped with homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started touting the best ziziki sauce pretty soon, because, dang. That sauce made the sandwich.
Extras: Where to start. Aside from the assortment of sandwiches and salads, you can head down the street to the market to pick up hummus, bags of borage and couscous, and an amazing selection of Mediterranean desserts, from fresh baklava ($2.75) to homemade Greek butter cookies ($.89). Don’t leave without trying the Turkish coffee ($2.75). You’ll thank me later.