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Oops, I'm having Turkish food today

Eating a good lunch where I never expected

Some call it a pancake, some a quesadilla. In Turkey it's called gozelme. Lezzet Café.
Some call it a pancake, some a quesadilla. In Turkey it's called gozelme. Lezzet Café.
Place

Lezzet Café

3586 Main Street, San Diego

The adult toy store is to the left, in case you were curious.

They say location is everything, but thanks to using my smart phone in an unfamiliar part of town I happened upon a pretty decent Turkish restaurant with what might be considered a lousy location. Lezzet Café may be found between Barrio Logan and National City, on the back side of the 32nd Street Naval Station, along a strip populated by budget tire shops, and right next door to an Adult Emporium promising nude girls and sex toys.

Safe to assume it's not the first place adventurous eaters think of, even to look for Turkish cuisine. Nevertheless, I found myself venturing onto its spacious and pleasantly appointed back patio and found myself — forgive the broad-minded cultural association here — in sort of an oasis of tasty dining.

Decorative objects give it a cultural feel inside.

I know little about Turkish food, and anything familiar I might just chalk up to being pan-Mediterranean. But the family-owned place is prepared for people like me, and my lovely and helpful waitress patiently walked me through the menu.

Of course there are kebabs and dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves), as well as a few handmade pasta dishes including pelmeni (akin to ravioli, they say) and manti (dumplings). These are exclusively beef dishes, and while they sounded delicious, I was alone and hoping for a little more variety of flavors. So I gravitated toward the gozelme — Turkish pancakes.

Pronounced goes-elm-ee, I would liken these more to quesadillas. For ten bucks you get three to an order with a choice of fillings, including beef, potato, cheese and spinach. My waitress suggested I could get beef and cheese, potato and cheese and spinach, and that settled it.

A great patio makes the whole thing worth it.

The buttery, house-made tortillas showed up with yogurt as dipping sauce, pressed flat with plenty of grilled onion included with both the ground beef and mashed potato servings. Each were tasty in their own way, and quite filling. I was surprised to find the potato was my favorite — it was creamy and smooth within the tortilla, best suited to capture the simple lot of flavors going on.

I stopped eating for just long enough to check out my surroundings. Pleather booths were built around a large patio, with open wood beams holding up draped tapestries for shade. On this warm afternoon with a mild Santa Ana wind blowing, the ice in my water melted fast, but I stayed comfortable enough, wondering whether I'd ever make it back to try those dumplings. If I don't, it won't be the dumplings' fault, more the unlikelihood that I take this particular exit off the freeway again anytime soon.

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Some call it a pancake, some a quesadilla. In Turkey it's called gozelme. Lezzet Café.
Some call it a pancake, some a quesadilla. In Turkey it's called gozelme. Lezzet Café.
Place

Lezzet Café

3586 Main Street, San Diego

The adult toy store is to the left, in case you were curious.

They say location is everything, but thanks to using my smart phone in an unfamiliar part of town I happened upon a pretty decent Turkish restaurant with what might be considered a lousy location. Lezzet Café may be found between Barrio Logan and National City, on the back side of the 32nd Street Naval Station, along a strip populated by budget tire shops, and right next door to an Adult Emporium promising nude girls and sex toys.

Safe to assume it's not the first place adventurous eaters think of, even to look for Turkish cuisine. Nevertheless, I found myself venturing onto its spacious and pleasantly appointed back patio and found myself — forgive the broad-minded cultural association here — in sort of an oasis of tasty dining.

Decorative objects give it a cultural feel inside.

I know little about Turkish food, and anything familiar I might just chalk up to being pan-Mediterranean. But the family-owned place is prepared for people like me, and my lovely and helpful waitress patiently walked me through the menu.

Of course there are kebabs and dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves), as well as a few handmade pasta dishes including pelmeni (akin to ravioli, they say) and manti (dumplings). These are exclusively beef dishes, and while they sounded delicious, I was alone and hoping for a little more variety of flavors. So I gravitated toward the gozelme — Turkish pancakes.

Pronounced goes-elm-ee, I would liken these more to quesadillas. For ten bucks you get three to an order with a choice of fillings, including beef, potato, cheese and spinach. My waitress suggested I could get beef and cheese, potato and cheese and spinach, and that settled it.

A great patio makes the whole thing worth it.

The buttery, house-made tortillas showed up with yogurt as dipping sauce, pressed flat with plenty of grilled onion included with both the ground beef and mashed potato servings. Each were tasty in their own way, and quite filling. I was surprised to find the potato was my favorite — it was creamy and smooth within the tortilla, best suited to capture the simple lot of flavors going on.

I stopped eating for just long enough to check out my surroundings. Pleather booths were built around a large patio, with open wood beams holding up draped tapestries for shade. On this warm afternoon with a mild Santa Ana wind blowing, the ice in my water melted fast, but I stayed comfortable enough, wondering whether I'd ever make it back to try those dumplings. If I don't, it won't be the dumplings' fault, more the unlikelihood that I take this particular exit off the freeway again anytime soon.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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