But the cooking is hardly Texan, and Dallas is not the Nazary family’s original home.
Beau Nazary, along with his mother and brother, were visiting the U.S. in 1978 on vacation—a trip that became a permanent relocation when war in Afghanistan broke out.
Nazary said the original location on Greenville Avenue in downtown Dallas served as a reminder of what home was like in Iran, especially for his mother.
And when it comes to what goes into the kitchen, Mom has the final say, Nazary said.
“On the food, if the tomato has got a little black spot on it, she’ll send the whole case back,” Nazary said. “She likes to go out and buy everything every day for herself and make everything.”
And from regular customers to first-timers at Cafe Izmir, Nazary said all customers receive the same Mediterranean hospitality the cafe is known for.
“Our food, our hospitality—it’s still the warmth of that Mediterranean hospitality,” Nazary said.
Cafe Izmir sources inspiration for its dishes from a variety of Mediterranean countries, such as Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. And natives of those countries take notice, Nazary said.
“A lot of people come and tell us that they feel like they are back in Turkey or Israel,” Nazary said.
Cafe Izmir also offers catering services and hosts private events, such as baby showers and rehearsal dinners.
Although the restaurant is growing, with two other locations open in Dallas, Cafe Izmir still holds on to some of the quirks that made it a popular dining destination in the late ’90s. One of those quirks includes an option for customers to request whatever “Mom is cooking that day,” Nazary said.
“To this day, we still do the no-menu for people that know,” Nazary said. “They’ve just got to say, ‘I want the vegetarian dinner or the meat dinner,’ and we bring it out.”