Local culinary specialties in Çeşme include kumru, a sandwich made with a long sesame seed-sprinkled bread roll stuffed with Turkish sausage, melted cheese and tomatoes, served hot. (One such sandwich packs about a million calories.)
Damla sakız, or “drip pinegum,” is added to ice cream, Turkish coffee and other foods in a nostalgic nod to the days when the abundant local pinegum resin was a substitute for chewing gum. (Sakız is the same stuff that retsina wine is flavored with.)
Local herbs and spices (ot) are also favored, andAlaçatı has an Herb Festival (Ot Festivali) on a weekend in early April, when local folks scour the budding hillsides for their favorite scents and spices. Local cooks, both amateur and professional, offer their wares for tasting and purchase in Alaçatı’s bazaar.
As a major destination for day-trip and weekend visitors from İzmir, Istanbul and beyond, Alaçatı has a surprisingly large number of good cafés and restaurants along its few main streets.
As with many vacation/holiday destinations with lots of visiting diners but a much smaller local clientele, chefs and management at local restaurants may change with the seasons. Nevertheless, here are some suggestions:
Café Agrilia, in the Bey Evi Hotel, is among the more accomplished places, with an internationally experienced chef and a pleasant, very Alaçatı, relaxed atmosphere.
Yusuf Usta Ev Yemekleri, Atatürk Caddesi, Zeytinci İş Merkezi No. 1, Alaçatı Futbol Sahası Yanı (tel +90 (232) 716 8823) is the place to go for traditional Turkish “home cooking:” soups, kebaps, ready-food (hazir yemek) dishes, rotisserie chicken, pide (Turkish pizza) at surprisingly good prices. It’s efficient, with indoor & shady outdoor seating, and no background music—a beautiful canary instead.
İmren Helva & Tatlı Evi, Kemal Pasa Caddesi No. 67 (tel +90 (232) 716 8356) is perfect for a snack, pastry, ice cream, or Alaçatı‘s famous sakızlı muhallebi (bland white pudding flavored with sakız—mastic pine gum).
Çeşme has a few pleasant waterfront restaurants off the main square, and many more restaurants of all types along the old main street inland, which is now Çeşme’s major pedestrian strolling and shopping street.
I had a good lunch at Biz Bize Restaurant, at the beginning of the shopping street near the main square. The İmren Lokantası, a bir farther along on the same (right) side, is good and certainly reliable, having been in this same spot since 1960, serving Rumeli (Thracian) cuisine.
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