After a particularly taxing workweek for Urbndervish, we went out on the town for a family date. Having already frequented one of Ankara’s two vegan restaurants, it was about time to visit the second. Little did we know that the term “restaurant” might have been a bit misleading. Tucked into one of downtown Ankara’s neighborhoods, we made our way to a modest basement apartment. No sign or awning indicated its location, so we relied on the address and phone number provided by Happy Cow. After walking up and down a common residential street, we finally found the home known as Vegisso.
Greeted warmly by a young brother and sister, our coats were taken and we were ushered to a long dining table where two diners were already seated. We sat beside them and perused the menu. Somewhat distracted by the artwork behind us and the cozy living room in front of us, we decided on veggie burgers, Izmir kofte meatball, and a seitan sandwich. Worried that our appetites overwhelmed the kitchen staff of one, we waited patiently for our dishes to arrive. We were encouraged when the other diners received their table settings, a bread basket, and appetizing plates of food. Careful not to stare, I couldn’t help but wonder what they ordered since their Turkish menu offered no translation. Nonetheless, the sister that welcomed us spoke enough English to make some recommendations and tell us which dishes were not available.
Apparently a hang-out spot for mostly college students, the business tide of Vegisso ebbs and flows with the semesters. A singular vegan saw a need and opened his home to become a haven for young vegan diners looking for a welcoming place to hang out and eat up. The décor of his space is artsy with a unique vintage style and in true college fashion, an acoustic guitar sitting in the corner. I became nostalgic for my own college days, spending late nights on secondhand furniture while my roommates strummed their guitars after cooking meals together. The same relaxed vibe is felt at Vegisso without being claustrophobic or intrusive.
The professional presentation of our food was a telltale sign that our chef wants to be taken seriously. Our fresh, crisp salads were dressed lightly with olive oil and a sprinkle of black cumin and sesame seeds. The bulgur pilau was formed in a small mold and our sandwiches were wrapped partially in paper for easy handling.
The veggie burger had the reminiscent taste of falafel, one of the menu’s offerings, and paired well with crisp cucumbers, sour pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and a homemade creamy sauce. The French fries that came with the sandwiches were hot and crisp. We enjoyed each dish so much that we ordered a second round half-way through finishing the first.
As is our usual dining habit, we just drank water before our meal and enjoyed both a lunch and dinner portion’s worth of a meal. I was anxious to try their chocolate brownie but none was available on the day of our visit.
Our host and chef, Yesin, chatted with us after our meal. As a green, three-year vegan he has a refreshing zeal about his diet. His business hours are long, but his customers seem more like friends than clients. They cozily filled the space around us and entertained Moulay while we ate. Yesin’s vision is to one day open a restaurant but in true DIY fashion, he’s starting with what he has, right where he is.