Gables Bites: Get a Turkish Education at Baklava Coffee


Fistikli TurkishDelightPlateOfSweets By Riki Altman

You’ve probably noticed that little place on 90 Miracle Mile just before Galiano but didn’t pay it much attention. You know, the one that just opened a few months ago with that big sign that says “Baklava Coffee” in the window? Do yourself a favor one day and go in.

It’s not hard to figure out what the stars of the menu are, but what you can’t tell from the window is the caliber of the offerings. This spot is the only one in Coral Gables serving the highly coveted Panther Coffee brand and it only offers baked goods directly from Istanbul. Boasting the reputable Gulluoglu name, shipments of frozen goods are put in the oven each morning, often more than once each day. That’s why the phyllo dough crumbles just right then melts on the tongue, and it’s also the reason why each item has the perfect chewy texture one expects to enjoy when partaking in baked Middle Eastern fare.

To say Baklava Coffee serves only baklava would be a gross understatement. At last count, we found more than a dozen varities of just that pastry alone, ranging from walnut to cherry and pistachio, some glazed with honey and others dusted with nuts. For the record, store manager Nicholas Sanchez tells us the small, rectangular fistikli is the most popular. Also in the delectable case are savory breads in white and whole wheat, some stuffed with feta, olives or spinach, and savory pies (gul boregi and su boregi) with cheese, potato or spinach. Those days when you seek to start your day with something less sweet and more substantial, order a simit, also known as a Turkish bagel. This ring of dough is encrusted with sesame seeds and baked to a golden brown. Down one with a hot cup of Panther Coffee—cold brews, espressos, cortaditas and more are available—or Turkish coffee if you think you’re tough enough.

And as for the desserts… well, let’s just say this isn’t the place to go if you are wearing skinny jeans. It’s near impossible to choose just one of the sweets, especially for fans of Turkish Delight. [Don’t be embarassed to admit if you don’t know what that is. Simply stated, it’s a soft candy made made of a starchy, sugary gel, often dusted with powdered sugar.] Varieties offered here include pomegranate, pistachio and coconut. Also ask about pişmaniye, white globes with a texture similar to cotton candy. Cookies are also baked fresh but presented in unusual shapes. Don’t be surprised to chocolate chip cookie balls, sesame cookies shaped like little knots and huge almond cookies with cracked surfaces. All of these are sold by the piece, box or pound. The items average $1.50 to $1.75 each (around $4 for pies) and mixing and matching are encouraged. If you can’t pronounce the names, the manager is happy to help.

Baklava Coffee is open every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and it’s a great place to find the perfect hostess gift. Not only can guests find a variety of fresh pastries but they can also pair their selections with gifts of Turkish tea, halva, pistachios by the pound and even personal-sized cakes in a variety of flavors. The next time your belly growls and your tastebuds are tempted to try something new, stop in. If you end up with a little gift for yourself, too, we won’t tell.


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