Looking up a list of “the best cuisines of the world”, one would expect to find such cuisines as those of France, Italy, India, and China. However, to the uninitiated, there might be one that would come as a surprise: the cuisine of Turkey, one that is rich, varied, and highly influential to other cuisines in the region. One will find elements that are reminiscent of things sampled from other Middle Eastern countries, as well Greek cuisine, but the flavors seem to be more intense and remain distinctive. There also seems to be an elegance to the cuisine that hearkens back to the Ottoman empire, and there are fewer restaurants to sample this elegance in Broward County than at A La Turca in downtown Hollywood.
A La Turca offers a broad selection of mezes, the small, tapas-like plates that are ubiquitous throughout the Middle East. Some of the offerings are familiar to fans of other Middle Eastern cuisines, while others are a bit more exotic. To demystify perhaps one of the most charming aspects of this cuisine, waiters at A La Turca present diners with a trolley carrying a selection of the restaurant’s mezes and offer a brief explanation of each one.
Haydari, a dip of thickened yogurt with walnuts, dill, and garlic is a refreshing choice and is particularly addictive spread onto pieces of warm, toasted pide flatbread, which is always generously replenished here. Cigar Borek is a must have meze here and at any Turkish eatery. The cigar-shaped pastries are filled with a tangy cheese and quickly fried yielding a crispy crust and an oozing center. Mucver, crispy zucchini pancakes served with a garlicky yogurt sauce, are also delicious and surprisingly light.
Pastrima, a more interesting dish of thinly sliced cured beef steamed in foil with a zesty tomato compote, suggests at the origins of the pastrami found in Jewish delis. Perhaps one of the tastiest mezes on A La Turca’s menu is the Shrimp Kasseri consisting of a small casserole of tender, juicy shrimp topped with a spicy, garlicky tomato sauce and a generous mound of melted kasseri cheese.
Although one can compose an entire meal out of multiple mezes, A La Turca does serve a beautiful selection of well-made entrees consisting mostly of kebabs. Doner Kebab is perhaps the most typical Turkish kebab to order and is probably better known by its Greek name of gyro. Other Turkish standards like Kofte Kebab and Adana Kebab are also served here, but the Beyti is far more interesting. Looking somewhat like a Turkish enchilada, the dish consists of a grilled ground lamb log wrapped in thin lavash bread and topped with tomato sauce, garlic, yogurt, and melted butter. All the entrees at A La Turca are large enough to share.
While Turkish desserts are some of the best in the Middle East, and A La Turca offers a good selection, perhaps the best way to end a meal at this restaurant is with a Turkish coffee or small glass of tea. The coffee, known throughout the world for its powder-fine grounds that settle in the bottom of the cup, is sweetened to each diner’s taste and offers a nuttiness far milder than an espresso. Although A La Turca also offers a selection of about ten wines from Turkey, a creamy glass of Ayran - a salted, buttery yogurt drink that pairs wonderfully with the full flavored cuisine - should not be missed.
A La Turca
2027 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, FL 33020