Today we went for lunch at Pide ve Lahmacun after finding out about it versus this forum and the Chicago Reader article written just yesterday. It is right next to the Irving Park Brown Line station on the north end of the street. Small place with 4 tables (8 seats) but it's nice and casual. The owners of this place own the place (I Cafe) next door which is also pretty much Turkish and a cabbie hang out (it's open until 5am at least on the weekends). Pide ve Lahmacun, as the name would indicate, specializes in Turkish "Pizza." For those of you who don't know Turkish, the "c" in the language is actually a "j" or "g" sound, so you pronounce it as "Lahk mah joon." I do wish the owners of the place would somehow put "Turkish Pizza" on the outside of their place, or something like that. A lot of people in the US don't know what lahmacun or pide is, but they would find the flavors very familiar in my opinion.
Who we found out later to be one of the owners was up front and very, very nice. Very hospitable. We found out that since they own the place next door, pretty much anything can be ordered at either side. So if there's nowhere available to sit at this new place, go next door and order if there's open seats. It should be noted that I Cafe is cash only, but Pide ve Lahmacun accepts credit card via Square.
The menu consists of a handful of different types of Pide (Americans would find this more similar to pizza than Lahmacun), Lahmacun (regular and with the salad on top), a few salads, a few soups (like lentil soup), and drinks such as coffee, teas, soda, fruit juice (bottled), Ayran, and Salep. FYI, ayran is a traditional Turkish drink that's like yogurt or buttermilk. It of course goes great with the lahmacun usually and is refreshing together, but I'd caution anyone who does not like yogurt or is not used to the sourness of yogurt or buttermilk about ordering it. I find that for a lot of Americans it is an acquired taste. Salep is also a traditional Turkish drink that was popular before the rise of tea and coffee. It is made using flour made by a tuber related to orchids, and with milk. It's in a way similar to Horchata but with a slightly weaker flavor, but hot.
To start, we ordered one lahmacun and one Sucuk Pide, along with a cup of iced coffee, Ayran, and Salep. Sucuk (pronounce Soo Jook) is a Turkish sausage that is commonly eaten at breakfast. It's kind of like a thick pepperoni but a little different taste (like a Merguez). We also ordered an iced coffee, salep, and ayran. To eat lahmacun, a lot of people will basically put the parsley (sometimes arugula, but not here), tomato, and onion on top, squeeze lemon on top and kind of roll it up. The lahmacun took about 5 minutes to make while the pide typically takes about 15-20 minutes.
Everything was great. The lahmacun, at $3.50, is a great deal for a good sized snack. The pide was more like $12. The bread was great and golden, the sausage was great tasting, and the cheese of course was melted and gooey. The sucuk was both on the outside of the pide and on the inside of some slices. Good stuff all around. The salep was also pretty good as was the ayran (but ayran is usually a packaged drink, but they did serve it in a real glass for me). I liked the lahmacun enough to order a second after eating all of this. My girlfriend though the iced coffee was great too. Simple but good.
All in all, everything was great. Very casual but good. The lahmacun, sucuk pide, ayran, iced coffee, and salep cost us $22.50 after tax. My second lahmacun was a little more than $3.50 after tax. They also have other things like kazandibi (milk custard dessert), some Turkish samosas, and they also have a cooler full of drinks like bottled water, coke, etc. Great if you get off the stop and need one of those to drink.
I recommend this place especially if you like flatbread style pizzas (i.e. lahmacun) or gooey cheese pizza (pide), or just lookingn for a cup of salep or ayran. Remember I Cafe next door has more seating and is owned by the same owners.
Pide ve Lahmacun
1812 W. Irving Park (Next to Irving Park Brown Line)
Mon-Sat 7 AM to 7 PM