Allison Levine, wine expert and PleasethePalate.com blogger, shares her 48 hours in Alacati, Turkey.
For my final two days in Turkey, I decided to hit the coast for a little rest and relaxation. Looking for somewhere that was a little less touristy, we came across Alaçati, located on the Çesme Peninsula near the Aegean Sea. If you are into windsurfing and kitesurfing, you have probably heard of Alaçati. It’s the new hotspot getaway for jetsetter Istanbulians, replacing the go-to beach town of Bodrum with Alaçati.
We arrived in Alaçati at the end of September—fortunately, just after the rush of summer had cleared out. The streets were quieter and the temperature was cooling down. It was the perfect time to explore the narrow streets filled with 100-year-old stone houses, boutique shops, and alfresco restaurants. Alaçati is an authentic Turkish town that is laid-back, easygoing, friendly and fun to explore on foot.
Here are my recommends for 48 hours in Alaçati:
Where to Eat
I did a little research about where to eat in Alaçati and read so many great reviews about Asma Yapraği that I knew we had to eat there. As we sat at our table, we began talking to the people sitting next to us. They turned out to be the restaurant’s owner—Ayse Nur Mihci, along with her brother Mahmu Yalay. Her son, Kerem Mihci, runs the restaurant and joined us as well.
Ayse explained that because “what you work with is so important,” they shop the local market and pick herbs and greens from the countryside, as well as have their own garden. The results are delicious—the epitome of the slow food movement. In fact, during the day, you can stop by and find a team of people prepping meze around a large table. At night, these dishes are displayed on the table for guests to select from.
We selected a number of dishes from the Meze table including zucchini and Tulum cheese, pine nuts, bread crumbs; pumpkin prepared according to a family recipe with special sauce, baked and served with yogurt; eggplant from the garden, oven-roasted and served with mastic and yogurt; red lentil fava bean puree; fried squash blossoms with Lor cheese and dill herbs. For main courses, we had falafel with caçik (yogurt) and lamb that has been slow roasted for 5 hours and then stir fried with bulgur. For dessert, it was pumpkin cake and beetroot brownies.
With large glass windows in the front, the restaurant is open for all to see as they pass by. Inside, the space is open and charming with inspirational quotes written in chalk on the wall. The kitchen is an open space in the back with herbs and colorful vegetables on display.
Like the restaurant Asma Yapraği, Barbun also features local, fresh produces in dishes such as beet mash with goat cheese and fried mullets served with rocket and buckwheat. The presentation of the food is vibrant and the energy of the restaurant is sophisticated casual.
Wandering through the streets of Alaçati, don’t miss trying out the local street food. Grab a Turkish Simit (similar to a bagel) or a plate of mussels stuffed with rice. Stop at a local café for fresh lemonade or grab an ice cream at Imren Bakery.
Taking a liquid break for a tea or Turkish coffee is also popular. When it comes to tea, stick with black tea, mint or apple. I don’t suggest the local sage tea—unless you like astringent, medicinal flavors.
Where to Shop
The streets of Alaçati are filled with boutiques selling clothing, housewares (Turkish towels), jewelry and art. I fell in love with two local jewelry makers in town—Kubaba Design and K&S Jewellery—and came home with a few more items than I planned.
Every Saturday the market is set up on the streets of Alaçati. It goes on for miles, diverging onto side roads. You can get everything there – clothing, kitchenware, accessories, shoes, plants, dairy, spices, meats, but the best part is the fruits and vegetables. The vibrant colors are exquisite.
Where to Stay
Alaçati is filled with boutique hotels. We found a charming bed and breakfast just outside the center of town called Koçlu Konaği. The stone house offers a few basic, but comfortable rooms and a delicious homemade breakfast, all for roughly $80 a night.
Hour long flights are offered from many Turkish airlines (including Turkish Air) to Izmir—the closest major city to Alacati—all day. From the Izmir airport, Alaçati is an hour drive.
Photos by Allison Levine.