Last visit April, 2012
Sofra, formerly A la Turka, is a Turkish restaurant in Lakeview, on a couple of occasions we've coordinated it with seeing a comedy improv show either before or after, Comedy Sportz is about a mile away.
Sofra has a nicer atmosphere than my other favorite Turkish restaurant, Turkish Cuisine and Bakery, beautifully decorated with several small tables for 2 or 4 people where you can sit on cushions on the floor. If you want the cushioned space it's a good idea to call ahead and ask for it.
Try to schedule your meal for when the belly dancer(s) perform if you go on the weekend, Friday at 8:30pm, Saturday at 9pm. It's a real treat to watch and maybe someone from your group will be brave enough to get up and dance like my 14 year old nephew who surprised us all.
I think the ownership has changed since the name change, there were a lot of empty tables on our visit in April 2012 and that was something you'd never see on a Saturday night when it was A la Turka. Gone are the raffles, gone is the liquor license so now the restaurant is BYOB.
Favorite Dish: Iskender kabobs are my favorite Turkish dish, layers of beef and lamb (gyro) meat, on top of diced pita bread covered with tomato sauce and yogurt-delicious!
We tried the falafel and the burek as appetizers, both were pretty good.
From the outside, you would never expect that sooo much fun could possibly be had in such a seemingly small and unassuming place!
This is truly an "interactive" restauraunt. You will not be bored and the food is fantastic.
Our Chicago VT group walked in and immediately started having a fantastic time. Between the great company, wonderful food, belly dancing and hooka smoking......what can I say? I wouldn't have missed it for the world!!
Favorite Dish: Hot Sauce had this huge leg of lamb, although mine was good too, I couldn't stop grabbing bites of hers. It was delicioso!
Post 'feed trough', things got 'dicey'. The restaurant not only involved you in the food, but, BAM! they involved you in a sort of "group grope" (visually, anyway) with the other attendees of this fine restaurant. I truly do believe, every Woman (and some Men) were ready to take years of Belly Dancing lessons. These Women (the Belly Dancers) were something else. Naturally, Brad, with a target printed virtually on his haid, was picked out of the crowd first. Did he resist? (again, yeah, RIGHT!) Yours truly was picked second (if any of you have pictures? burn them).
Getting to La Turka was half the fun. Six People in the 'crew cab' was tight, but enjoyable. La Turka is in a relatively non-descript location. It's about 400 yards north of the 'Pedestrian accident', and about 60 feet to the west (over by the fire hydrant).
When you enter this restaurant, it's sort of a combo of "Aladdin" and "Sir Lancelot". The tables were spaced somewhat awkwardly, but functional (and, as God is my witness, the chairs WEIGHED A TON!) I was attempting to be ever-so-Gentlemanly assisting Katmo by pulling the seat out for her to alight, but DAMN! It was like pulling a set brick out of set mortar. (Not Katmo, but rather, the chair).
Favorite Dish: What to say. HotSauce got the lamb shank (which looked more like a 'hunka' hunka' burnin' something", it was HUGE!). I enjoyed a tomato and cardimum/black pepper/cilantro salad ("light", yeah, RIGHT!) in a balsamic drizzled vinigaretty topping. The rest had to fend for themselves. But the smells, sights, sounds of everyone enjoying themselves, was superb.
To see all the VT members, please click this PANORAMIC photo.
The best part of the evening at A LaTurka Turkish Kitchen was seeing my friends from VT and meeting new friends.
That night, I met for the first time Mely (travelwithmely) and her lovely mother
It was so good to catch up with Martin, Erik, Kristi, and Dave.
The friendly waiter was so kind to take this photograph for me. He also took photos for the others.
Favorite Dish: I'd like to say at this time that without Kristi (Dabs), we probably would not even have meetings. She is, without a doubt, the Queen of organizing VT dinners/lunches.
She and her husband David are so well versed about places to eat in and around Chicago, and this selection of A La Turka Turkish Kitchen was another good choice.
It's a great place for large groups to "let down their hair" and have great food, good service, and fun entertainment.
I've just given you a "taste" of what we had to eat at the VT dinner at A La Turka Turkish Kitchen on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. But, there was much more than VT talk, a delicious meal, and an exotic setting. Oh, yes, very much more.
On Friday and Saturday nights at A La Turka Turkish Kitchen, there is entertainment at 9:00 p.m. Suddenly, the lights are lowered, the music is blasting (and I mean blasting; we were seated next to the speakers!), and the lights start to flash. Out come 3 lovely young women in appropriate attire for, you guessed it, BELLY DANCING.
The girl in the photo was near our table most of the time. Her specialty was to dance while balancing a sword on her head!!
People were clapping, waving their napkins in the air, and commenting loudly. It was a great half an hour of entertainment, indeed.
This is one time that you will WANT to click the photo to gain a better look!
Favorite Dish: Come to A La Turka Turkish Kitchen for the food, but be sure to stay for the delightful entertainment!
The last VT Dinner that I attended was held at A La Turka Turkish Kitchen on Lincoln in Chicago.
It was a delightful choice for a dinner: exotic decor, entertaining dancers, and delicious cuisine. Our group numbered lucky seven, and I was the first to arrive. We were seated near the back of the restaurant where we had a view of the entire place.
The decorations are a "trip" themselves! Lots of color, numerous "fake" flames, all sorts of items hanging, and many pictures of Turkey.
Our waiter was quite efficient, and the owner was more than attentive.
We ordered a number of appetizers to share:
Fillo Dough Roll (Sigara Borek) a Deep-fried fillo dough thinly rolled, stuffed with Turkish feta cheese and parsley.
Turkish Pizza (Lahmacun) Homemade pita bread topped with a blend of minced lamb, green peppers, tomatoes, parsley & onions seasoned with Turkish spices.
Feta Cheese Platter (Beyaz Peynir) Turkish Feta Cheese served with black olives, tomatoes, and lettuce sprinkled delicately with olive oil.
Then we all ordered our meals. Our choices were many from the Lamb Special, Baked Homemade Turkish Ravioli, Shish Kabobs, Turkish Gyros, Seafood Platter, and Vegetarian Specials. These are just a small example of what is offered.
Favorite Dish: I ordered the Turkish Gyros (Doner Kebap) which was a homemade mixture of beef and lamb byros seasoned and marinated, cooked on a rotating skewer and thinly sliced. Along with the meat, there were tomatoes, onions, Pita Bread, and a special sauce. It was an enormous amount of food; I took home about half of it, and I shared it the next day with my husband.
They also have an assortment of desserts, all of which looked wonderful. I order two and took them home to share with my husband.
For the rest of the "delight", check out the next tip.