A La Turka is a cushy Lincoln Ave. joint where stuffed eggplant, zucchini pancakes are awesome

It was around 3:30 p.m., time for a break from work, which sometimes must involve a small glass of wine.

I’d told Chezne, a producer who works for me and dining guinea pig: “I can only walk until I see a restaurant I’ve never eaten at. No matter what, that is where we stop.”

We hadn’t strolled down Lincoln Ave. for five minutes when I saw the specials board outside of A La Turka at 3134 N. Lincoln Ave. Lunch was still being served and the place was bone empty. Perfect, in we go.

The interior was dark. A waited nodded and waved his hand for us to sit anywhere. Our choice was the front window seat, the traditional Turkish seating style of nestling onto the floor on big, body-length cushions and the table is basically balanced on your knees. I loved it.

Attempting to keep it simple (and knowing that I hadn’t had a vegetable in weeks), I ordered imam firinda, a stuffed eggplant entr?e that was covered in marinara and smothered in cheese.

We also wanted to try the zucchini pancakes, if only to compare them to the little wonders at Turquoise Caf?. Chezne also insisted on trying some hummus.

I spent a half hour rearranging my body, never really getting used to the fact that I was lying on a cushion. I guess you’re supposed to sit up stick-straight, but we were having too much fun acting like we were at a teenage slumber party, flip-flopping around like jellyfish.

The food arrived — the presentation and service were delightful ? and I couldn’t wait to dive into the eggplant stuffed with peppers, onions, pine nuts and Turkish feta cheese and coated with a thick layer of oozing, white Turkish kasar cheese.

The fat zucchini pancakes (mucver) were awesome, definitely different than the version at Turquoise Caf?. They were thicker, with more dill and more coating, almost like the casing on a perfect Baja fish taco.

When I loaded a heaping spoonful of dilly yogurt dip, and squirted them with a big squeeze of fresh lemon, I barely remembered the other zucchini pancakes I’ve eaten.

As we wound down our meal, our waiter asked me if I could turn on the fake flame machine in the window for him. “No problem,” I said, pushing the button, “What sort of dessert do I get for that? Perhaps a small piece of baklava?” He laughed and agreed, and brought us an itty-bitty piece of the syrupy, made-in-house dessert. I guess you could say I have a new favorite lunch spot.

THE FINAL RAVE: Though the hummus was presented well, it had a bitter taste to it that I couldn’t quite place. Best to stick with the fried zucchini pancakes. And wine.


READ IT: Best Turkish Food (www.bestturkishfood.com)
Use this online service to order your favorite Turkish olives, honey, breads, and chocolates. All delivered right to your front door.

DRINK IT: Sighara Hookah Caf? & Lounge, 2013 W. Division
Show up to this exotic hookah lounge on Wednesday nights and you’ll be greeted by fortune-tellers and Tarot card readers. Best grab some raki to face the reality that is your life.

EAT IT: Caf? Demir, 2964 N. Lincoln
Known for their juicy kebabs, this tiny Turkish storefront also dishes out a great hummus, often hard to find.

GET CRAZY WITH IT: Blue Cruise Yacht Charters ( www.shoretechnology.com)
Sail the Turquoise Coast for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness sunken cities, explore hidden coves and catch fresh fish.