By Evan Milberg
Yayla Bistro has only been open for eight days, and manager Mutlu Kaya already has countless stories about the restaurant’s rabid fanatics.
“The reaction from the neighborhood has been amazing,” says Kaya. “This one guy came in and ordered two items to-go. Thirty to forty-five minutes later, I saw him running back toward the restaurant and happily yelled out ‘I LOVE YOU GUYS AND I LOVE YOUR FOOD.’ He didn’t say anything else. He just took off. It was the best feeling ever. ”
According to Kaya, “Yayla” is Turkish for for “high land.” He says it was inspired by a vision of his home in Turkey where “a lot of villagers go to this high land to get fresh produce, fresh milk.” Kaya takes pride in the fact that 90 percent of the food is made from scratch and that more than half of the menu is gluten- and peanut-free. In particular, he says the moussaka— the Turkish answer to lasagna, with roasted eggplant and ground beef topped with bechamel sauce—is the best in town.
The head chefs, brothers Imam Gozubuyuk and Abuzer Gozubuyuk, are both originally from Turkey and have a combined 20-plus years of experience. Both brothers have worked at Agora and Levante’s in DC. Kaya met them a little over a year ago and thought the three of them would be a good match to start a Turkish restaurant.
“It’s like a tango, and we’ve got a nice dance going,” says Kaya.
Kaya says that by late May, Yayla Bistro will serve Saturday and Sunday brunch and in the future will offer weekday breakfast. Starting today, Yayla celebrates happy hour, which runs weekdays from 4-7 p.m., with a Visne mojito, (a Turkish spin with sour cherry, $5), cold dips ($4), flatbreads ($4.50), house wine ($4) and beer ($3.50). / Yayla Bistro, 2201 N. Westmoreland St., Arlington; 703-533-5600