Downtown Dallas has a new lunch spot with a Mediterranean focus. Cafe Izmir, at the corner of Ervay Street and Pacific Avenue, is a second location of the successful Turkish spot on Greenville Avenue — and it might just be a compelling reason to stay downtown for dinner, too.
The interior decoration is tasteful and understated but not unlike a Turkish home — if your average Turkish home had a well-stocked bar in the middle. One wall features a collection of hand-painted Turkish ceramic plates over a fake fireplace. There are some engagingly eccentric paintings and windows onto Ervay, which open in good weather.
Lunchtime means a formidable lineup of pita sandwiches, in addition to staples like hummus ($6). "Date hummus," Cafe Izmir’s signature garlic-free version for those planning to get it on later, is on the menu, too. The regular version packs a whole lot of garlic, and we mean that as a compliment.
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At dinnertime, Cafe Izmir’s menu opens up with a series of Turkish tapas ranging from a generous platter of grilled vegetables and Russian salad (with chicken, peas, carrots and egg white) to beef kabobs ($6) and lamb chops. Both kinds of Turkish pizza are available. Lamb rolls ($6), spicy ground lamb paired with pico de gallo and rolled up in pastry dough to look like an egg roll, are a pretty delicious fusion food.
The most luxurious tapas are a beef kabob made with tenderloin meat, and the pomegranate-sautéed shrimp ($13). That dish finds the shrimp cooked in a white wine sauce with pomegranate reduction, a gently sweet flavor counterbalanced by some perky spice. It all sits atop a bowl of long-grain rice to soak up the sauce.
Cafe Izmir hasn't gotten around to printing their drink list, which they plan to do soon, but the well-stocked bar looks to have not just good liquors but an affordable selection of wines. DeLoach is a good pinot noir and there’s a $5 malbec, but based on the temperature at which it was served, they’d do well to invest in a wine fridge.
There’s no printed dessert list either, but the no-brainer here is baklava, sweet but not excessively so, though the pastry sheets could have more crispness. Much of the menu is what you’re used to at the Greenville location, but that’s hardly a bad thing. An inviting taste of Turkey in downtown, just around the corner from Thanks-Giving Square, is just what Dallas’ city center needs. Cafe Izmir, 211 N. Ervay St., 214-824-8484.