A Lovely Café: "Mesir," in the Heart of Ankara, Turkey

BY ZUZANA GIERTLOVA

In Turkish, Mesir can mean all three: corn, Egypt, and it is also a lovely café in the heart of Ankara. At first glance, Mesir appears to resemble millions of other similar cafés spotting the streets of Ankara. However, squeezed between two restaurants on a crowded Mesrutiyet Cadde, Mesir provides a peaceful refuge from the hectic chaos of Kizilay. A friendly staff and the modest and very comfortably decorated interior, create a welcoming and calm atmosphere, which is just as pleasing to the exhausted pedestrian as a glass of water, çay or lemonade on an 89-degree Ankara day.

Yet at the same time, Mesir also offers much quintessentially-Turkish entertainment. If smoking Turkish nargile (hookah that comes in many flavors; we recommend apple or mint) does not appeal to you, try playing tavla (backgammon) or sipping çay while glaring at everyone who passes by you on the sidewalk. If it strikes your fancy, and you meet someone with prophetic powers (or at the very least, a claim to have them,) try to ask them for fal, the traditional Turkish coffee cup reading. That way, you will get to enjoy both the caffeine buzz from delicious Turkish coffee and some insight into your love life next month.

Lastly, the café is fairly international while retaining authentic Turkish flavors. The patronage ranges from American students abroad, Turkish couples, to groups of men truly enjoying a good draw of nargile. The waiters and owners speak some English and are more than willing to extend a helping hand to their customers. In fact, in the words of one of Mesir frequenters, “If there was an earthquake, I’d probably run here. It’s my safehouse.”

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