Simit + Smith Offers Turkish Twist on Bagels
Simit + Smith, 1077 Wisconsin Ave. NW, is a new Turkish cafe near the bustling intersection of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. It serves simple but delicious food inspired by simitçi – Turkish street vendors.
The two-story eatery has original hardwood flooring and exposed brick walls throughout. The first floor has a counter where you order and display cases, while the second floor is sunny and serene with seating for 24.
The café’s name comes from a popular bread sold all day long in Turkey and the Mediterranean, the simit, which is a “Turkish bagel.” The Smith in the name is a nod to American food culture.
A simit is round like a bagel, but braided. While bagels are boiled, simits are dipped in a mixture of grape molasses and water before being rolled in sesame seeds, which gives it a crunch on the outside and an airy texture on the inside, before being baked. The simit also come in a loaf as well as whole wheat and multigrain.
Başar Akkuzu, who owns the Georgetown shop – the chain’s first franchise – along with Zeynep Kocabal, said the simits and other baked goods are made in New Jersey using ingredients imported from Turkey. They are then shipped parbaked from New York and finished in Georgetown. The simit is offered alone as a breakfast treat or snack or as the bun of a traditional Turkish sandwich topped with feta, cheddar or kasseri cheese, thinly sliced tomato and a sprinkle of dried oregano,
But Simit + Smith goes beyond the simit with bready offerings such as acma, a Turkish version of brioche that is also used as a bun for the same toppings that are on the simit sandwich. It also serves poğaça (poy-acha), which resembles focaccia, and comes plain or stuffed with feta and parsley or kasseri cheese and black olives.
The café also offers heartier meal choices including antep lahmacun, a Turkish flatbread sprinkled with minced beef marinated with Mediterranean spices with onion, sumac, parsley and lemon on the side, and a Napoli pizza topped with tomatoes and mozzarella.
The menu also includes wraps called dürüm that are filled with roasted chicken, cheddar cheese, sundried tomatoes, mixed greens and a honey mustard sauce; döner sirloin kebap, romaine lettuce, Roma tomatoes and pickles with Café de Paris sauce; or grilled eggplant, zucchini, roasted bell peppers, olive oil and marinated sun dried tomatoes with pesto sauce. The dürüm can also be served as sandwiches on house-made sourdough bread.
Rounding out the menu is broccoli or lentil soups and salads such as Caesar with döner kebap, cherry tomatoes and parmigiano reggiano; roasted chicken with orange, fennel, black raisins and cherry tomatoes topped with olive oil and lemon; cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, peppers, red kidney beans, black olives and fresh mint with olive oil and lemon; and quinoa with salmon, avocado, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, peppers and pesto sauce.
Top your meal off with a cup of Turkish tea or thick, steaming Turkish coffee, and perhaps one of the staff will read your fortune in the coffee grounds. For your sweet tooth, there is baklava made with pistachios, almond cookies and cinnamon scones.
For breakfast, the restaurant offers a simit with feta, kasseri, black olives, tomatoes, a hardboiled egg, butter, honey and seasonal jams and orange juice with Turkish coffee or tea, as well as yogurt plain or with fresh fruit or granola.
During a recent visit, my favorites were the poğaça, which was soft and fluffy inside with a crispy outer crust filled with kasseri and black olives, and the döner kebap dürüm with its tasty seasoned meat and delicious Café de Paris sauce that tasted somewhat like honey mustard. If you order the lahmacun, roll it up and eat it with the onion, sumac and parsley inside with a squirt of lemon on it rather than cutting it. Also, the baklava was excellent covered in ground pistachios and not overly syrupy, unlike most baklava you find in the DMV.
Baked good are priced $3-$3.50; soups are $2.95/$4.95; salads are $10-$12; dürüm are $9-$11; sandwiches are $5-11; lahmacun is $4.50; pizza is $5.50; breakfast is $4.50-$14; and desserts are $3.
Simit + Smith is open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.