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Turkitch, Ali Baba Doner and other northside Turkish

Turkitch, Ali Baba Doner and other northside Turkish
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  • Turkitch, Ali Baba Doner and other northside Turkish

    Post #1 - March 25th, 2019, 10:41 pm
    Post #1 - March 25th, 2019, 10:41 pm Post #1 - March 25th, 2019, 10:41 pm
    I was doing some food searching (even though I don't live in Chicago anymore) and noticed a few new Turkish places open in Lakeview right next to each other or very, very close on Diversey.

    1) Turkitch. Looks kind of legitimate bakery, cafe, sandwiches, etc and some items that aren't found in tons of places in the US, but you can find them in some places. Seems like they have an actual food brand where they have packaged food too you can buy in the store and also buy online and ship it to all 50 states. Very interesting.

    Their website claims you can't eat there as there's nowhere to eat, but the pictures I see online show that to be really false. I'd be curious to see if anyone goes and sees what the deal is.

    Turkitch
    565 W Diversey Pkwy
    Open 8am - 8:30 pm Monday thru Saturday, and 8am to 6pm on Sunday
    https://www.turkitch.us/

    2) Ali Baba Doner. As the name would indicate, it looks like they serve mostly doner, but also have some falafel sandwich, kofte, and maybe currywurst (unsure about that though).

    Ali Baba Doner
    545 W Diversey Pkwy
    312-823-7716
    https://alibabadoner.business.site/


    Interestingly, there's now a good number of Turkish places in the general area to this:
    Troy Mediterranean Grill
    Pera Turkish Kitchen & Bar
    Anatolia Kitchen & Bakery
    The Gundis (Kurdish)
    Zizi's
    Istanbul Grill
    Ali Baba Doner
    Turkitch

    And of course not too far away you have other ones like Turquoise, Cafe Orchid, I-Cafe, etc. But interestingly that little area of Lakeview now has 8 of these places. Maybe a few more and you can declare it a Little Istanbul or something.
    Last edited by marothisu on March 26th, 2019, 6:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - March 25th, 2019, 11:09 pm
    Post #2 - March 25th, 2019, 11:09 pm Post #2 - March 25th, 2019, 11:09 pm
    marothisu wrote:Interestingly, there's now a good number of Turkish places in the general area to this:
    Troy Mediterranean Grill
    Pera Turkish Kitchen & Bar
    Anatolia Kitchen & Bakery
    The Gundish (Kurdish)
    Zizi's
    Istanbul Grill
    Ali Baba Doner
    Turkitch

    Definitely an interesting trend and very cool but Turkitch has to be one of the worst restaurant names of all time. It's not going to prevent me from trying it but man, it sounds like I might need an ointment afterwards. :lol:

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #3 - March 26th, 2019, 11:20 am
    Post #3 - March 26th, 2019, 11:20 am Post #3 - March 26th, 2019, 11:20 am
    Went into Turkitch around noon last week. They didn’t have menus ready yet. A pleasant woman offered us Turkish pastries and sandwiches on pretzel rolls. Neither appealed so we kept on walking.
  • Post #4 - March 26th, 2019, 5:16 pm
    Post #4 - March 26th, 2019, 5:16 pm Post #4 - March 26th, 2019, 5:16 pm
    Marija wrote:Went into Turkitch around noon last week. They didn’t have menus ready yet. A pleasant woman offered us Turkish pastries and sandwiches on pretzel rolls. Neither appealed so we kept on walking.


    Was it a Simit?
    https://www.turkishfoodclub.com/content ... k_600.jpeg
  • Post #5 - March 26th, 2019, 5:34 pm
    Post #5 - March 26th, 2019, 5:34 pm Post #5 - March 26th, 2019, 5:34 pm
    She called it a pretzel roll.
  • Post #6 - March 26th, 2019, 6:00 pm
    Post #6 - March 26th, 2019, 6:00 pm Post #6 - March 26th, 2019, 6:00 pm
    Mod Note: Since it was getting into some detail, we split this developing conversation off from the Openings & Closings thread to its own dedicated thread.

    Carry on,

    =R=
    for the Moderators
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #7 - March 26th, 2019, 7:05 pm
    Post #7 - March 26th, 2019, 7:05 pm Post #7 - March 26th, 2019, 7:05 pm
    I might also add Dürüm in the near West Loop. We have enjoyed their doner kebab a few times, close to the German style. They use a somewhat thicker pita rather than the more common lavash, which squared with our German experience. More fast food, but tasty roasted meats, decent sauces. My ideal would be somewhere between this and Donermen.
  • Post #8 - April 8th, 2019, 4:00 am
    Post #8 - April 8th, 2019, 4:00 am Post #8 - April 8th, 2019, 4:00 am
    Anyone know if Ali Baba Doner and Turkitch are related in some way? Two turkish places opening next door to each other within a month is some coincidence.

    I am a couple blocks from Turkitch and will stop in, but trying to research online is completely puzzling. They feel like an established brand with some strong branding behind them, but that brand is frozen Turkish food. Their website makes it sounds like they're originally from WI which makes some sense if they're transitioning to open physical restaurants -- but it's hard to find anything about the restaurant itself except gleaning from yelp pictures. There doesn't even appear to be a menu online. Also whoever is behind it spent a ton on the buildout -- lots of high end fixtures and some custom pieces as well.

    Really though, the most puzzling thing to me is when I heard a Turkish Bakery was opening, I was ecstatic to have someplace in the neighborhood to buy Tulumbe. But apparently it's not on the menu? Completely bizarre.
  • Post #9 - April 9th, 2019, 7:34 pm
    Post #9 - April 9th, 2019, 7:34 pm Post #9 - April 9th, 2019, 7:34 pm
    Chuu wrote:Anyone know if Ali Baba Doner and Turkitch are related in some way? Two turkish places opening next door to each other within a month is some coincidence.

    I am a couple blocks from Turkitch and will stop in, but trying to research online is completely puzzling. They feel like an established brand with some strong branding behind them, but that brand is frozen Turkish food. Their website makes it sounds like they're originally from WI which makes some sense if they're transitioning to open physical restaurants -- but it's hard to find anything about the restaurant itself except gleaning from yelp pictures. There doesn't even appear to be a menu online. Also whoever is behind it spent a ton on the buildout -- lots of high end fixtures and some custom pieces as well.

    Really though, the most puzzling thing to me is when I heard a Turkish Bakery was opening, I was ecstatic to have someplace in the neighborhood to buy Tulumbe. But apparently it's not on the menu? Completely bizarre.


    From what I understand, the owner, who is from Turkey, won the green card lottery a handful of years ago and moved to Milwaukee of all places. It appears as if he started a non-food business or two there which may have been successful. Now Turkitch? Not really 100% sure. I was thinking he might have some investors but who knows. From what I see online, it's a brand of frozen food that ships everywhere in the US but they have actual food at the store made fresh that you can buy. They have a Facebook page and have been posting everyday things that they're making in store. This morning they posted a video of borek coming out of the oven. It appears that their website is misleading. For example, it states somewhere on the site that there's no seating for patrons to eat food in the store and you must carry it out. However, according to the pictures and videos they're posting on their Facebook account, nothing could be further from the truth.

    As far as Ali Baba Doner goes and being owned by Turkitch, I don't think so. I was able to look up the business owner names for both of these and they aren't the same. I have a friend who lives in the area from Izmir and asked him why a handful of Turkish places opened in that general area lately, he said "I don't know - maybe they are trying to make a Turkish area of town."
  • Post #10 - April 9th, 2019, 9:17 pm
    Post #10 - April 9th, 2019, 9:17 pm Post #10 - April 9th, 2019, 9:17 pm
    Stopped at Turkitch the other day, was quite a puzzling experience.

    First, more about the restaurant itself. All the equipment looked new and was top tier, lots of high quality materials in the restaurant itself and lots of custom pieces with their logo. Also their branding and product photography is better than some major national franchises. Someone put an absolute ton of money into this project.

    I came in right before the dinner 'rush' would begin, around 4:30. The food menu is small, and wanted to try the turkish equivalent of kifta kebob. Unfortunately they were sold out. Instead I went with 'Ayvalik Tostu' which loosely translated is 'Ham Sandwich'. It's also in the #1 slot on their menu which translates to 'order this if you are unsure'.

    What I got was a well made, but utterly bizzare sandwich. It was a panini-style pressed sandwich with multiple types of pork-protein chopped up -- one sausage like and one salami like. In addition the sandwich features boiled egg, capers, pickles, and some form of farmer's cheese. It also had a ton of mayo. You could tell someone put a lot of work into crafting it, it was well made, but just not to my taste.

    I also picked up a side of borek. The serbian version of ourek is one of my favorite foods and I often pick it up from The Beograd Meat Market. The piece I got was sitting under the heat lamp way too long, and quality wise was not on par with BMMs offering. When fresh it probably would be excellent.

    Overall, a fairly tepid experience. I really wanted to like this place, especially since the owners seem to have so much money in it. I will be back to try the 'kifta kebab' equivalent, and the occasional Borek fix when I can't get out to BMM, but it's not someplace I expect to frequent.

    Unlike Ali Baba Doner, which I've already been to several times.
  • Post #11 - April 10th, 2019, 11:46 am
    Post #11 - April 10th, 2019, 11:46 am Post #11 - April 10th, 2019, 11:46 am
    Reminds me of this Fabulous Thunderbirds song:

    Scratch my Back
    The art of living well and art of dying well are one. ---Epicurus
  • Post #12 - April 12th, 2019, 4:42 pm
    Post #12 - April 12th, 2019, 4:42 pm Post #12 - April 12th, 2019, 4:42 pm
    Chuu wrote:Unlike Ali Baba Doner, which I've already been to several times.


    What do you order at Ali Baba?
  • Post #13 - April 14th, 2019, 4:43 pm
    Post #13 - April 14th, 2019, 4:43 pm Post #13 - April 14th, 2019, 4:43 pm
    Mike Sula has the rundown on all these new places: https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/a-kebab-crawl-from-the-lake-and-beyond/Content?oid=69569600

    Also addresses the Istanbul Grill/Cafe Istanbul connection that was the subject of discussion here awhile back.
  • Post #14 - April 16th, 2019, 9:33 am
    Post #14 - April 16th, 2019, 9:33 am Post #14 - April 16th, 2019, 9:33 am
    cilantro wrote:Mike Sula has the rundown on all these new places: A kebab crawl from the lake and beyond

    Also addresses the Istanbul Grill/Cafe Istanbul connection that was the subject of discussion here awhile back.

    at chicagoreader.com, Mike Sula wrote:We like the sea and the lake," says Özkan Yilmaz, the owner of Turkitch, a new café in Lakeview just a half-mile from the second largest body of water in the Americas. That's why he reckons so many Turks choose to live in the neighborhood, and why, consequently, there are so many Turkish restaurants there, from the Gundis to Cafe Orchid to ZiZi's and more.

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #15 - April 16th, 2019, 6:17 pm
    Post #15 - April 16th, 2019, 6:17 pm Post #15 - April 16th, 2019, 6:17 pm
    ^ That is very true, especially on the west coast of Turkey (including Istanbul). I think that people would be surprised just how much fish and seafood is in actual Turkish cuisine. The first time I ever had fish with cinnamon (sea bass) was in Istanbul The sea is definitely a big part of this, so that makes sense about Lakeview.
  • Post #16 - April 30th, 2019, 7:59 pm
    Post #16 - April 30th, 2019, 7:59 pm Post #16 - April 30th, 2019, 7:59 pm
    I saw a posting from Turkitch on Facebook which showed a teaser video - they are opening up another outpost at the Rafaello Hotel in the Gold Coast sometime soon. If the space in the video was an indication of where they're opening then it's kind of a little space with some room for chairs, but probably not full service.
  • Post #17 - May 2nd, 2019, 9:03 am
    Post #17 - May 2nd, 2019, 9:03 am Post #17 - May 2nd, 2019, 9:03 am
    The red lentil soup at Zizi's Cafe is unbelievably good.

    Zizi's Cafe
    2825 N. Sheffield
    https://tinyurl.com/yxbxlrmx
    Pithy quote here.
  • Post #18 - May 10th, 2019, 2:52 pm
    Post #18 - May 10th, 2019, 2:52 pm Post #18 - May 10th, 2019, 2:52 pm
    Stopped in today at the Lincoln Park location of Turkitch for a light lunch. Apparently they have already opened the downtown location and more expansion is planned.

    Based on discussions with the manager, the food is made in Turkey and shipped to Milwaukee where the main office is. As far as I could tell, all the baked goods are shipped to the restaurant frozen and re-heated. Overall I liked the food, though some items reheated better than others.

    My favorite item was the su boregi. It was moist and rich in all the right ways. Perfect with a bottle of Merve ayran from the refrigerator. The spinach bosnak boregi was solid though a little dry. The lahmacun tasted right but lost a lot in the reheating process.

    Another highlight was the Turkish coffee. I don't know what machine they used, but the result was almost creamy with no bitterness at all. The baklavas were tasty as well though lacked any crispiness.

    I think it's clear that they intend to franchise and expand. I did pick up a couple of the frozen goods so maybe the results will be better when I have control over the process. We grabbed some simits as well, also frozen.

    Overall I'd say it's a nice addition to the neighborhood. I can see myself picking up the frozen goods regularly (or maybe via doordash). Sure, I wish they were more of a made-to-order bakery, but that's probably too much to ask at this point. Perhaps the growing Turkish Town in Lakeview can one day support something like that. Till then, I'm fired up to have an option for simit and baklava walking distance from home.
  • Post #19 - September 7th, 2019, 12:13 pm
    Post #19 - September 7th, 2019, 12:13 pm Post #19 - September 7th, 2019, 12:13 pm
    I had a doner from Ali Baba this week and was pretty dang into it. Its an odd shop, the dining area feels like a waiting room with no dining tables and chairs but rather sofas and coffee tables and a dominating flatscreen (with German football broadcast.)

    The owner was incredibly accommodating– he offered me gratis tea & gave me several updates about the status of my order. You can tell he's a real perfectionist, the wait for my sandwich was largely due to his patient tending to the auto-doner, allowing for the meat to get some color on it. He also put together one hell of a balanced sandwich. And, since I took my order to go, he was adamant about eating it right away.

    And I'm glad I did! The bread is great, with an ideal crunch. It's a little thicker than pita and reminded me of Turkish breads I enjoyed in Berlin. This is just a wonderfully constructed sandwich, with layers of super fresh veg, well seasoned chicken, what I believe is urfa biber chili powder, and a bright minty sauce. The mint & cabbage combo triggered memories of many a late night doner in my year abroad in the UK during undergrad. This was a much more sophisticated sandwich than that street meat, though, and was on par with the best Turkish kebab shops I've tried in Germany.

    Ali Baba Doner, count me a fan!
  • Post #20 - September 15th, 2019, 7:28 am
    Post #20 - September 15th, 2019, 7:28 am Post #20 - September 15th, 2019, 7:28 am
    I had a great doner kebab sandwich at Ali Baba Doner yesterday. Everything was right about the sandwich. Carefully crisped chicken pieces, crunchy pita, creamy garlic sauce and lots of shredded cabbage and pickles. Great stuff all around. Best doner sandwich I've had in Chicago for sure.

    As discussed previously this is a German style doner kebab sandwich and the menu acknowledges the fusion. The owner is a German born Turk who on this particular afternoon was serving a steady stream of Germans who popped in to grab a bite, a cup of tea and catch part of the Bayern Munich soccer match. Very cool spot. The owner mentioned that more menu items such as lentil soup, lamb doner and currywurst are coming soon. They now have chairs and tables as well which is very nice. I'm sure I'll be back.
  • Post #21 - September 28th, 2019, 2:54 pm
    Post #21 - September 28th, 2019, 2:54 pm Post #21 - September 28th, 2019, 2:54 pm
    turkob wrote:Sure, I wish they were more of a made-to-order bakery, but that's probably too much to ask at this point. Perhaps the growing Turkish Town in Lakeview can one day support something like that.


    Didn't take long. Turkitch was bustling today at lunch time. There was a nice selection of freshly baked goods including a stellar su boregi with ground beef and some nice looking pogacas I didn't get to try. The freezer section no longer has the frozen boreks, though you can buy them online. They do now have bags of frozen simit in the freezer so you don't have to ask for them at the front. The menemen caught my eye, a likely order for my next visit. Good developments and encouraging support from the neighborhood.
  • Post #22 - October 19th, 2019, 8:09 am
    Post #22 - October 19th, 2019, 8:09 am Post #22 - October 19th, 2019, 8:09 am
    It's not in Lakeview, but there is a new eatery on Morse in Rogers Park specializing in Turkish Tost (basically panini like sandwiches). The menu looks like they have a few sandwiches like a sujuk and cheese, kofte and potato, etc. They also have some soup and gelato, as well as pogaca and baklava, coffee, tea, etc.

    Tostini
    1622 W Morse Ave
    Mon - Fri: 9am - 7pm
    Sat: 10am - 7pm
    Sun: 10am - 6pm
  • Post #23 - October 30th, 2019, 7:18 pm
    Post #23 - October 30th, 2019, 7:18 pm Post #23 - October 30th, 2019, 7:18 pm
    It looks like Turkitch has opened up in the French Market downtown per a Facebook post of theirs. The location in Rafaello Hotel might also be open.

    https://www.facebook.com/Turkitch.USA/p ... 0907611783

    Steve Dolinsky of ABC7 did a feature on them the other day and mentions they have plans to open up 5 more locations.

    https://abc7chicago.com/food/traditiona ... Z6QoUSf9z8
  • Post #24 - November 5th, 2019, 9:30 am
    Post #24 - November 5th, 2019, 9:30 am Post #24 - November 5th, 2019, 9:30 am
    Pera Turkish Kitchen on Broadway and Diversey closed. Wonder if Turkitch had anything to do with it.
  • Post #25 - November 6th, 2019, 12:22 pm
    Post #25 - November 6th, 2019, 12:22 pm Post #25 - November 6th, 2019, 12:22 pm
    I have not visited Turkitch, the restaurant. I did just have lunch from Turkitch at the French Market however. Food, good, if perhaps a touch pricey. Organization not good. The board listing your choices only offers prices and options such as "1 hot plate/1 cold plate," "2 hot plates/2 cold plates." None of the food is labeled--either where it sits or on the board--none of it is named, none of it is described. If you aren't familiar with Turkish food, or if you just want to know what's on offer, the guy behind the counter has to tell you what every item is, item by item. It takes time. It's busy. He was kind and eager to be helpful but I am sorry to say I had a little trouble with his accent, and given the noisiness of the place at lunch time, this was not a smart decision on their part. French Market is busy at lunchtime, people want to get their food and go: no one wants to stand in line and have the server explain every dish to each person in line. Having no list and no description of the food is just foolish.
    The chicken and potatoes was a little bland to my taste but enjoyable. The burghul salad, unqualifiedly good.
    One hot plate/one cold plate was a bit over $12. A little pricey, given the competition. I'll likely return, but I'll make sure to do it when I can hear better.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)

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