Cafe Antalya Restaurant Review – Dunwoody, Atlanta, GA [First Impressions]

Erniechicken Some meals are so transcendent, so illuminating, and so invigorating that you are left speechless.  Some meals are just that good, incapable of being captured in text or image, and ethereally delicious.  This my friends, was not one of those meals.  No, the recent torture session of a meal that took place that fateful night left me feeling a bit like Tyson (post Buster).  No, actually … take that back, this meal made me feel like Ernie looks after an ass whooping at the hands of Peter (Ernie’s died several times over).

Café Antalya failed so epically on so many fronts that I fear nothing short of a tactical strike could save it.  Blow this blight of an establishment straight to heck and back.  Start over … get rid of the chef, get rid of the *cough* designer, and shoot whomever is in charge of sourcing.  Then, they might have a chance … maybe.  If I lived in the Dunwoody area, I’d be calling the fire department just to make sure they had enough water in the tanks.  I want my tax dollars back… who hands out the business licenses?

The drive to Café Antalya can be downright deadly at rush hour.  Still, if you can brave the traffic demons who jet and dart around GA-400 without so much as a blinker or a gaze, you’ll find Antalya just off Exit 6 at the west end of Northridge.  The strip center, which houses one of the Chin Chin outposts and a Moe’s, doesn’t do the restaurant favors.  Then again, neither did the person responsible for the layout.

cafe-antalya-falafel Some of the ATL food spots that I frequent could be referred to as a dive (hell, some of them are just down right dumps).  However, there is a difference between kitschy and disgusting.  This place wasn’t safe for my worst enemies’ worst enemy.  Walking in, I was immediately befuddled.  If not for the sign just outside or the fact that Spark Plug sat patiently awaiting my arrival, I’d have thought I was in a Hawaiian tiki bar.  Wood panels, red pleather, booths and hella funky music make this a dismal place to sit.  Still, I had heard great things about the food, so onward and upward we went.

Service in the sparsely populated restaurant was frustrating.  The gentleman who attempted to take care of us was so gosh darn nice … if anything else in the joint was half as good, I’d be writing a very different recap.  It was painstakingly obvious that he was not equipped to handle the responsibilities of a server.  I’m hoping for their sake that he was simply filling in … but I suspect that might be wishful thinking.  I think it was the owner.  Regardless, food was served with an awkward pacing, water glasses remained empty, and I could have sworn he just forgot we were there.  Those failures didn’t seem self-contained.  The table behind me suffered the same fate.

Okay, so the service sucked something major, and the decor was muy malo, and the location isn’t exactly “the it spot.”  Ah, but great [scratch that] … good [scratch that]… half-decent food can make up for some of that (I’m just trying to give them a chance).  Well, not here.  Not then, not now, not ever.  There are ways to tell if a restaurant is having an off night; and, there are ways to tell if things are systemically bad.  This, my brave little minions, was systematically disgusting.


Being adventurous foodies who like to sample a diverse flavor profile at nearly every seating … we made a beeline for the meze platter.  The combo plate arrived with helpings of several Turkish delights, including Havuc Salatasi and Baba Ghanoush.  Though the manner in which they were served (self contained) was much appreciated, everything fell flat on its face. The havuc salatasi (shredded carrots) tasted like carrots dipped in sugar oil.  The baba ghanoush was congealed, the feta cheese was sour and bland at the same time (how is that even possible), and the two types of borek (those fried looking things in the picture) were naz to the T.  If the picture doesn’t translate, the explanation is simple: the food reheater dude took frozen sigara borek and musaka borek, dropped them in a fryer that wasn’t hot enough, and pulled them out way to early.  At $13 for the heap, I can’t say a single aspect was worthwhile, but at least the portions were ample.

Whatever remaining hope I had for Antalya died the moment the falafel were killed in the fryer.  They were mushy, flavorless, and had no depth or texture.  What’s worse – I had been told that they were destination worthy.  If they ever were the best in the city, I suspect they are a shell of their former selves.  It’s not like they were screwed up in the preparation; after all, these shameful chickpea patties were clearly imported.  The accompanying jajik sauce (a close cousin to tzatziki) slipped past my tongue with not much more than a whimper.  It was just that bland.  In fact, if not for the textural differences between the jajik and the falafel, I’d probably not have noticed the dipping sauce at all.  Advertised as the best, these were easily the worst I’ve ever had.

Just to make sure i wasn’t crazy, I passed on some of Al’s delicious meats a few days later in favor of his falafel.  Sure enough, the falafel at Agora went a long way to drowning out the memory of Antalya and locking it away in the annals of my spacious noggin forever.  But not quite … cuz Antalya was just that bad (have I said that enough yet… ???).


The torture continued with the lentil soup for the Ms. and the salad for yours truly.  Uh … both super sucked … let’s move on.  Okay, wait.  The lentil soup was green water (meaning it tasted as bad as it looked) and the salad came courtesy of the worst farmer in the history of farming.  I don’t think they sell that lettuce at the Food Lion.

As much as I wanted to lay prostrate on the floor and tap out of this one, I owed it to Bam Bam Bigelow to persevere.  Well, that, and my parents always taught me to finish what was on my plate … DAMN YOU MOTHER!!!!!!!!!!!


The mixed grill ($19) promised a cornucopia of delightful flavors.  It delivered a cornucopia of severely murdered meat.  Every single piece was coated with oil, oozing with grease, and dried beyond any cooking temperature I knew existed.  A combination of lamb shish, chicken shish, kofte, doner kebab and ribeye steak, the best thing about the plate was the rice.  There was something refreshingly nasty about dried out Uncle Ben’s coated with meat oil.  Maybe it was the satisfaction I got from knowing I didn’t have to eat that meat ever again … oh wait … yes I did.

cafe-antalya-kuzu-kavurma The choban kavurma (lamb – $16) was as stupefying as it was tasteless.  I’m not sure what choban means, any time I’ve had this dish, it’s been called kuzu kavurma (so if any Turkish experts are out there … please chime in).  Regardless, the little pellets of lamb were slightly less murdered than their brethren on the other plate.  But seriously – isn’t this getting a bit old.  Let’s just settle for the fact that it was horribly chewy, tough, and not on par with the food I suspect they serve the  … you get the idea.

I usually say that opinions are subject (‘cuz face it … they are).  But anyone who says Antalya is good is either dumb, blind, or suffering from anosmia.  Actually, probably all three.  Café Antalya is just so disgusting that I am loathing the idea that I might someday have to return.  I’d rather be sent to jail then back there … can I just have my $70 back?

Cafe Antalya Restaurant Address & Information

8290 Roswell Road, Atlanta, GA 30350 // 678.527.0900 // Cafe Antalya website // Cafe Antalya menu
Cafe Antalya on Urbanspoon

11 comments Write a comment

  1. do us (and yourself) a favor and tone down the proactive negativity. yeah, you cant help it if a restaurant sucks, but it’s becoming a chore to read your site because it seems like you seek out places to shit on. we already have the blissful glutton for that.

    anyone can churn out reviews telling people how bad restaurants are – how about putting in the effort to include a even share of places that are actually worth visiting?

  2. that is a weird little area where it’s tucked away. Bad location + bad food + bad service is not a good formula for success. I hope you just went on a bad day; hate to see restaurants fail (unless they’re clearly not putting in any effort).

  3. Pingback: The Porter: a disappointment – Atlanta Blogs

  4. #1,

    Pretty sure it’s also important to note the bad ones as well to avoid or to let them know they need improvement.

    Just don’t read the reviews if you’re that offended by the content.

  5. Thanks for the warning. But isn’t your worst enemies’ worst enemy you? Or do you assume your worst enemies have more formidable foes? Don’t sell yourself short — I’m sure you rate with the proprietors of Cafe Antalya….

    • I tend to consider myself rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Plus, what have I ever done to make someone not like me? Alas, I feel like there are few people out there who would even entertain the notion that I am their worst enemy.

  6. Today we drove all the way to Roswell from Lawrenceville to eat there and we were not lucky at all. At 12.30 when we arrived we were told that the chef is not there so we waited another hour. When he did come ( we believe he is also the owner) he raised hell because the server let us enter the restaurant in his absence. It was 1.25 pm at that time and we were in disbelief. And he walked out the door saying that customers should not be there until he returns…WOW. We could not believe it. During this time we were served with some bread that was uncooked and stalled and some baba ganush that was hard to look at so we declined it.
    Well, we wish him good luck and want to remind him that this is America and if a schedule is posted as 12.00 pm opening time then it should have been opened.
    We advice anyone to call ahead of time and find out if the chef or the owner is in the mood to cook for that day. And we will make sure all of our friends will know of this terrible experience.

  7. How old are you? Do you speak people? I have read your review several times about a restaurant that i have eaten at and enjoyed SO MANY TIMES an by the way have read 20+ raving reviews about them, and I am quite confused. So confused I went back and read many of your other reviews. Do you like anywhere you choose to dine? Do you find issues with every decor, every server of just tell where do you like to eat? Or maybe you only enjoy your own cooking. Or maybe you (like so many other entertainers) just wish to get a rise out of people.
    Now to Cafe Atalya; The pictures you took the food looks great and makes me hungry just viewing them. The lentil soup you seemed to hate people just rave about and say it is the best although I really love the tomato soup. The service has always been wonerful yes it is a small restaurant which makes the servers So attentive, I have never been there when ANYONE COMPLAINED ABOUT SERVICE

  8. Sorry i clicked before I could finish. The decor come on you are compaing to a tiki bar please take a closer look and see the fine wood and try looking at the booths at someof our finer buckhead restaurants you will find they are no different than these actually these are nicer. Also please note this restaurant is in Sandy Springs andit is not their fault you chose to go in traffic i find that part of your so called review just stupid But please explain some of your references or comparisons. What is up with “spark plug”, “water in the tanks”, and Als delicious meats, AGAIN DO YOU SPEAK PEOPLE?
    You call this place a dive and disgusting I would really like to know what kind of decor you consider pretty and nice as you should have seen the “dive” they replaced Location location location is in the eye of the beholder as you said you traveled to get here someof us live close by and consider this a great location. Tell me what did you consider unsafe about this place you said it but did not elaborate were things falling from the ceiling? was the boogy man under your table? Or maybe that is how you write reviews with a hint and a scare IF i did not read your review an judged by your pictures well they made me hungry and my mouth water. I was wondering what kind of music do you think you should play at a Turkish Restaurant? Salsa? Rap? I do not care for turkish music myself but would expect a Turkish Restaurant to play it. I will not be reading anymore of your reviews as many of the restaurants you trash i have not been to (but I have been to and enjoyed this one) but I hope other people that do read your reviews find you dislike more than you like and should consider the source. I feel a person has a right to their opinion but to trash and ridicule is not an opinion.

  9. I have visited Atlanta several times from Seattle. When I landed January 14th 2010 Cafe’ Antalya came so highly recommended that I was taken directly to the cafe’ to have dinner with a group of friends and family. Under normal circumstances I would never eat ethnic food of any kind, but my friends and family assured me I would be delighted, and to my surprise I LOVED all of it, from the service to the music to the presentation of the food. I found the restaurant to be comfortable and clean. The pictures that you posted from your experience, look appetizing and well presented.

    I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone and your reprehensible comments are inaccurate and untrue.

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