Chef Habip Kargin, the creative mind behind Pera Turkish Kitchen in North Dallas, recently opened a second concept not far from his first. Pera Wine and Tapas is full of subtle Mediterranean influences, reflecting Habip’s roots while exploring a modern style. Habip opened his first restaurant in Turkey 15 years ago, and went on to lead reputable New York City restaurants before moving to Dallas.
The restaurant has an odd, hidden location just east of Preston Road in an old Taco Bueno building. But once inside, the atmosphere is relaxed and insulated from the busy intersection. Shady greenery and a wood deck make the patio a haven, even with the unfortunate street noise. Big fans attached to the trees keep a breeze going, and young vines are starting to create a thin wall to aid in the attempt to make guests feel far away. White tablecloths and glass wine chilling carafes were lovely, but the almost invisible service was even better. The kind, quiet staff made a shift change almost unnoticeable, especially hard to do with multiple rounds of tapas coming to the table.
Tapas can be tricky, in my opinion. They are a small, quick opportunity to show a diner what a restaurant is made of, but because so many more plates are leaving the kitchen, there is more room for error.
At Pera, there are two lists of tapas to choose from, those for $6 and those for $12. On the $6 side, our favorite was the Octopus Carpaccio, with baby arugula, parmesan capers and fennel with a light dressing. Calamari Salad, Macarel, and Grilled Eggplant Caviar were some others available that day. Don’t miss the seared Duck Salad, with radish, macadamia, baby kale and peach.
Moving to the $12 tapas, made up of all protein dishes, the Grilled Filet Mignon stood out. A cut of impressive size for a tapa, it was a perfect medium-rare, surprisingly juicy with a crisp crust. It came topped with microgreens and sat atop broccoli rabe, a tender baby carrot and thick eggplant puree.
The Shrimp Kadayif was well-executed, the sauces being the attention-getters. A swipe of both a citrusy red sauce and a green cilantro sauce, as well as a petite garbanzo/sausage salad, made an unusual but endearing plate. The Seared Quail, beautifully plated and nicely balanced, was one of the more memorable small plates I’ve had in a long time. Its pomegranate-molasses glaze lent just enough sweetness without overwhelming the more savory mushrooms and parsnip.
If they have the Seared Scallops when you go, get them. Bacon, herb oil and a flower garnish made a unique visual presentation and an even better texture combination. Idizabal, 6-month manchego, talegio, Turkish pastrami and chorizo are some of the options for the affordable meat and cheese plates.
We paired a Texas pinot grigio with our meal, but there are several dozen wines available, with France, California, Italy and Turkey represented on the list. Prices range from $5 a glass to $300 a bottle.
Nothing at Pera is overstated. There is a graceful air about the place, from the service and ambience to the tapas themselves. Its quiet excellence is exactly what makes it so inviting. I look forward to dining on the patio again at a time when the traffic isn’t so heavy on Belt Line, as the noise was a little distracting, but it wasn’t enough to dampen the experience for my party.
Pera Wine & Tapas is open seven days a week from 4 PM to 2 AM. There is live music from 7-10 PM on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and ladies receive a free glass of champagne before 8 PM on Thursdays.