The Magnolia Area Restaurant You're Forgetting About

Step into another world inside one Magnolia area café.

| photography by Alex Lepe |

Seated at a table inside The Flying Carpet, with its paneled pinewood floors and walls, surrounded by ornate Turkish rugs and collectibles, I feel as if I’m sitting inside a giant Turkish jewelry box. Located in a restored, early 1900s bungalow, the café was constructed to resemble an authentic 19th century Turkish coffeehouse. The dining room manages to stay warm and inviting, despite doubling as an art gallery. Meeting friends for a leisurely Friday lunch, I found the dining room quieter than expected, but the energy was livelier for a weeknight dinner.

The Flying Carpet has been through a couple of incarnations (and chefs) since it first opened its doors in 2012, but the current concept is sure to please the eyes and delight the taste buds. Open for lunch and dinner, five days a week, Flying Carpet offers a diverse and imaginative menu of familiar and more exotic treats.

With so many great starters to choose from, you really can’t go wrong with Yalanji Yaprak Dolma ($8.95), grape leaves stuffed with fragrant rice, pine nuts and currants, or Ispanakli Borek ($7.95), a flaky filo pastry filled with feta and spinach. If you’re dining with a group, try the Karishik Meze ($14.95), a mixed appetizer of several dips served with warm flatbread. In addition to the traditional garlicky chickpea hummus and creamy baba ganush, this starter includes a delicious spicy red pepper dip and a unique and addictive dip made with tomatoes and fried eggplant that I really didn’t want to share. Be forewarned, though, that while this app says it includes grape leaves, it actually only includes one, so order extra for a crowd.

For lunch, the wraps ($8.95) are reasonably priced without an overwhelming amount of food. Wraps include a soup or salad and your choice of chicken, lamb, doner or falafel filling. Dinner entrees are extensive, with a variety of kebabs and sautés on the menu. A perfect way to sample multiple kebabs is to opt for the Karishik Izgara ($24.95), which is big enough to share. The entrée includes one kebab each of four different kinds of meat. The grilled lamb on the shish kebab is mild in flavor and cooked to a perfect medium temperature. The cubes of chicken were tangy and very tender as well. The plate also includes doner, a mix of beef and lamb that is cooked vertically and shaved thin, similar to what you might find on a gyro. But the biggest surprise was the adana kebab. Minced lamb is mixed with paprika and red bell peppers and formed into meatball-like logs, then grilled to savory, spicy perfection.

We took the server’s recommendation for dessert and tried the Kunefe ($8.95). Two nests of finely shredded phyllo are fried to a golden brown, stuffed with a mild, slightly sweet cheese and served in a pool of hot sugar syrup. Try this dessert with a cup of Turkish coffee. It’s a Turkish coffeehouse experience after all. The bitterness of the brew perfectly offsets the sweetness of the kunefe.

Location: The Flying Carpet, 1223 Washington Ave.
For Info: 817.877.1223
Hours: Tues.-Sat. 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (lunch), 5:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. (dinner)
What We Liked: Friendly and attentive servers that are willing to answer questions and make recommendations.
What We Didn’t: Although the café offers several traditional beverages, if you want to imbibe, it’s BYOB.
Our Recommendations: On a mild evening, grab a spot on the patio with friends where you can linger over dinner and enjoy Flying Carpet’s hookah.