Each month, we take a look inside a new or undiscovered neighborhood restaurant that recently caught our eye.
Olive Tree Market & Café
970 N. Coit
Hours: 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m. daily
Price range: $6-$16 for entreés and sandwiches
Tip: Stop by for the $8.99 lunch buffet 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily
Tucked away in the Promenade Shopping Center, Olive Tree Market & Café already has become a go-to spot for the international community. The part restaurant-part grocery store opened in November. It specializes in Turkish cuisine but also offers products from Greece, Lebanon, Armenia, Russia and Eastern Europe.
The shop filled a hole left by Shine’s Mediterranean Market, which closed several months ago after its lease expired. At 14,500 square feet, Olive Tree has more to offer, too.
“It’s definitely a much bigger place than Shine’s,” says Yustun Yasa, the chef and part owner who moved from New York City to join the Olive Tree team, which includes Naci Kavrar of Shine’s and Erkan Zohre.
The market is stocked wall-to-wall with produce, spices, jams, sweets, baked goods, cheeses, pickled vegetables, frozen foods and halal (or kosher) meats fresh from the butcher. An olive bar features 24 different types of olives.
“That’s been a big hit,” Zohre says.
The café serves traditional appetizers such as hummus, babganoush, falafels and spanakopita. Entrées include gyros and kebabs. This month, Yasa hopes to add lahmacum to the menu, which is Turkish pizza with lamb and veggies. It bakes like a regular pizza, only you roll it up and eat it like a burrito.
Don’t skip dessert or you’ll miss out on Olive Tree’s signature item — kunefe. The Turkish pastry is made with a paper-thin dough called “filo” and stuffed with mozzarella cheese. It bakes for a few minutes and is then topped with pistachio crumbs and sweet honey syrup.
Stay for a round of Turkish coffee or tea.
“Most people around here get coffee to-go in the morning but in Turkey, it’s the culture,” Erkon says. “We usually have it with family and friends. It’s a relaxing moment after a meal.”