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A fine dining Turkish restaurant is hiding in plain sight on Phinney Avenue

Article and photos by Jamie Aaronson, special to the Phinneywood Blog

My neighbor told me about Ada’s Restaurant and Bar by the zoo. She’s a longtime local with great taste, and as a newer Seattle and Phinney resident, I am always looking for great recommendations. So when my mom came into town to visit, my husband and I jumped on the opportunity for date night and headed to Ada’s on a rainy evening in March. We had planned to eat outside but given the weather conditions and our recent vaccinations, we opted for inside seating. Ada’s was in fact our first indoor dining experience since the year prior, March 2020. 

The staff was friendly and warm, showing us to our reserved table in a quiet and romantic corner. Our waitress was knowledgeable and attentive. And the food: the food was simply outstanding. Combined with the ambiance and presentation, we were eager to return and try more dishes, wines, and desserts the next time. What a (semi-hidden) gem just around the corner, or actually down the street, from our Greenwood home and regular stomping grounds.

A month later, I met Chef Ayhan, the owner of Ada’s, on a sunny spring morning inside the empty restaurant, with light shining through the large front windows facing Phinney Ave. Ada’s serves dinner from 4pm until 10pm (or 11pm if you are the type who lingers). But this morning, it was just the two of us sitting at a pre-set table with napkins carefully folded. This reminded me of the waitress who had gently placed them on our laps when we dined there the month prior. What an intimate and simple touch that elevated the whole experience for us home dwellers.

Chef Ayhan Barlas of Ada’s

Seated across from each other, Chef Ayhan and I chatted about the history of the restaurant, his vision for the future, and of course the incredible food at Ada’s. Chef Ayhan, originally from Turkey, has cooked all over the world in 5-star hotels and restaurants, giving insight into the incredible tastes and beautiful plating I had encountered. He spent 15 years in corporate cooking before opening his own place; he opened on Phinney in 2018 just before Christmas. 

With nearly 30 years in the food industry, Ayhan specializes in Turkish, Italian, and American dishes. The food at Ada’s is about 70% Turkish with international wines and cocktails. He is proud to serve the highest quality certified prime steaks and meat, and at a good price too. The restaurant offers monthly chef specials and an extremely popular three-course fixed menu for $30-45 that includes an appetizer, entree, and dessert – paired with a wine or champagne. The Chef selects the best seasonal meat, fish, and poultry along with healthy organic vegetables. 

Chef Ayhan hopes to serve tasty food, and present it so the patron will “smile at the plate.” Enjoyment is a big part of the experience. Whether on a romantic date or group outing, guests are invited to come early and stay late; letting the meal unfold with the night. Chef Ayhan is in the back cooking each night and will likely greet your table to check in on your food and mood.

Ada’s serves 22 different kinds of wine from around the world, including rose and champagne, plus “Turkish Raki” in two varieties. Ayhan knows if your table orders one, you will be eating slowly, conversing, relaxing, and enjoying yourself late into the evening. Just as he would like! 

With the warmer weather approaching, Ayhan is looking forward to bringing back live music and serving more outdoor patrons this summer. Starting at 1pm on Tuesday through Sunday closing, Ada’s also serves housemade ice cream flavors: hazelnut, pistachio, Belgian chocolate, vanilla bean, and a dairy-free sorbet. Additionally, Ada’s has a beautiful private dining room for 12-25 people; book the whole restaurant for a special occasion or cater your chosen event offsite.

Ada’s is the only fine-dining Turkish restaurant in Seattle. If you haven’t tried it yet, book your reservation pronto. Then come back again and bring your friends in for more! Find the latest menu items on Ada’s website, Instagram, Facebook, Open Table, and Yelp. Takeout is available through Grubhub, Doordash, Caviar, and UberEats, though Ayhan loves to host you in person.

As we were wrapping up our meeting, I said to Chef Ayhan, “You could really use a new restaurant sign!” I peeked out the window and “Voila!” There was a new sign. We both chuckled as Ayhan handed me beautifully matching, shiny business cards. He had recently updated the restaurant signage, a fresh page in the history of Ada’s and the start to a promising year ahead.