Ankara Turkish Restaurant Opens Today
Ankara, 1320 19th St. NW, officially opens in the former Levante space south of Dupont Circle today for lunch, dinner and happy hour. The Turkish restaurant will begin serving Sunday brunch in June.
Owned by first-time restauranteurs, brothers Utkiu and Ovgu Aslanturk and Utku’s wife Erin Gorman. The brothers both worked in restaurants after arriving from Turkey in the 1990s, but have spent most of the last two decades working at the family’s construction business. Other family members are also involved here and in the Turkish capital of Ankura, where they source items not available in the DMV.
Adam Mayhew, a designer with Dila Development and Construction — the Aslanturks’ construction company – designed the interior of the 120-seat restaurant with white walls, cement floors, marble counters, dark wood chairs and tables including three large group tables with orange and gray accents. Iron-finished chandeliers and slender, antique inspired wall scone lights topped with linen shades bring warmth to the Old World aesthetic. An outdoor patio seats another 115.
Executive chef Jorge Chicas, a former sous chef at Jose Andres’ Zaytinya here in D.C. and Bazaar in Los Angeles, has designed a menu that includes classic kebobs, but also features contemporary dishes like hot and cold mezze, as well as entrees.
Turkish cuisine is a blend of Persian, Mediterranean, Far East and Anatolian influences. Among the dishes on Ankara’s dinner menu are sigara boregi, feta cheese and herbs in phyllo; hummus; mucver, zucchini herb cakes with garlic yogurt sauce; and chicken, beef, lamb and Adana (beef and lamb) kabobs. Levante’s wood-burning oven was kept and will be used to bake bread and pide, eye-shaped Turkish style flatbread that looks like Georgian khachapuri and comes with different toppings including feta and kasar cheeses, minced meat, onion and parsley; and roasted eggplant, kasar cheese and herbs.
Dinner entrees include seared branzino with caperberries, olives, pearl onions, tomatoes and lemon vinaigrette; braised lamb shank with gremolata, roasted eggplant puree a natural jus; ali nazik, a traditional dish from the Gaziantep region that features smoked eggplant and sautéed lamb cubes; and the signature Ankara Tava, a Turkish rice pilav served with a beef, tomato, pepper and onion sautée. Dinner prices range from $6-$20 for soups, starters, salads and pide. Dinner entrée prices range from $16-$29. Desserts, including baklava, range from $7-$9.
The lunch menu includes a selection of sandwiches including a lamb burger with feta, cumin and baby arugula on a brioche bun; and kofte served on pide with sumac onions, grilled tomatoes and peppers; as well as doner kebab and others. Lunch starters are priced from $6-$16, salads from $7-$8, pides from $10-$12 and grilled kebabs and sandwiches from $10.50-$13.
Happy hour is available on the outside patio during patio season. It features rotating drink and food specials.
Beginning next month, the $35 prix fixe Sunday brunch will be the famous Turkish breakfast, van kahvaltisi – a selection of small plates of savory and sweet items including bal (honey), peynir (cheeses), zeytin (olives), recel (fresh fruit jams), tomatoes, peppers and more. Diners will also select three additional items from a range of egg, salad and pide dishes. Brunch will end with a sweet treat.
Ankara is open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. for lunch and 5-10:30 p.m. for dinner Monday through Thursday, and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.