Midyeci Sehmus Usta

Şehit Uğur Öztop Cad. Gündoğan, TK 48965 • +90 535 9492313sehmususta.com

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This is not just a restaurant, this is a movie in the making about a kid who comes from nothing and manages to build an empire… out of stuffing mussels with rice. Okay, so maybe it wouldn’t be a great movie, but it is truly inspiring to see what this man, Sehmus, has managed to achieve since 1981, when he first started selling midye dolma (stuffed mussels) out of a street cart. A head-scratching concept to say the least, because shellfish from a barrel on wheels sounds like the recipe for E.coli if ever I heard one. In fact, back when my wife and I first visited Bodrum together nearly 15 years ago, she tried to get me to try the mussels from one of the street carts and I looked at her like she had seven heads. Granted they were all very pretty heads, but seven nonetheless. That said, after trying a small sampling of three, I immediately ordered another dozen. And every year the number has grown exponentially to 24, 30, 40- even 50 pieces in a single order. Praise be Sehmus! I have seen the light!

And I’m not the only one. Somehow this mussel man (see what I did there?) managed to assemble a family owned and operated network of street carts stretching from Izmir all the way to Bodrum and everything in between. A veritable army of street vendors all carrying a product so consistently great they could give Penn Tennis Balls a run for their money. Too obtuse? Penn used to have a long running ad campaign about how “amazingly consistent” they were. But I digress.

Which brings me to today. Finally, the man, the myth, the legend, has decided to settle down, planting roots with his first brick and mortar restaurant, located in Gundogan, serving up mussels in every way shape and form. In fact, the menu almost reads like that scene in Forrest Gump where he goes on and on about all the ways you can cook shrimp.

But fret not, because the dolma are still the best on Earth. And if you’re not close to Gundogan, that’s okay too, because the army of street vendors is still on the march.

One caveat, however. The rest of the menu doesn’t quite hold up to the dolma. The midye casserole is just okay- be sure to ask for it aci (spicy) and without cheese (one of those rare dishes that’s better sans). Another zag from expectations is that I much preferred the fried calamari over the grilled variety, which is rare for me. And last but not least, the seafood with rice was also a big snoozer. But hot damn are those dolma good! So go for those, some raki or Efes, and eat so many you turn yourself into a dolma. Sage advice if ever it existed.

3 teeth

Ox Wine & Burger Bar

Kumbahce Mah., Cumhuriyet Cad. No:155 Bodrum, Turkey • +90 532 356 7652 • www.oxburgerbar.com
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The BaconChevre is the bok (shit). Rivals most burgers back in the states. Decked out with goat cheese as the name implies. Pancetta, sort of like the name implies. And caramelized onions. The bun is soft and a touch sweet almost like a brioche or potato bread and together with an ice cold Efes (Turkish Beer) and you’d be hard-pressed to keep your fast going through Ramadan.

Other burgers there also range from okay to great depending. The Cheddarburger being on the higher end of that range and the Truffle burger being at the okay-er end. Yes, the most expensive burger on the menu is a big pass if you ask lil’ ole me. There are much better, much cheaper options.

They also have ox, chicken and veggie burgers, none of which I’ve tried. Fries and pickles make for passable sides. But one condiment you don’t want to miss is the spicy Turkish brown mustard. Gulden’s shmuldens.

Also, between my first and second visits they have opened tables on the beach, which at sunset offer a beautiful view as the sun dips behind the castle.

Service is also very friendly and accommodating and English speaking, which is a plus for semi-Turks such as myself.

4 teeth