Tafana avanos cappadocia dish
Direct translation – there isn’t one! It is a word unique to this region.

In Avanos, the tafana is the room where the bread was baked and stored. It was an arched, stone room, with a tandir oven in the floor. But it was not a full-fledged kitchen for preparing every meal. It was special. (See Hikmet’s House, hikmetshouse.com where he turned the tafana of his birth home into a boutique hotel room…and you’ll understand what I mean.)


The tafana was also a gathering place. Where you could feel the warmth of the fire, as you caught up with the goings-on of the host, taking in the aroma of freshly baked bread. Then at night you could bring your bedroll into the tafana and sleep directly over the simmering coals of the tandir. (The original electric blanket!) Then, when you awoke, the host puts on the morning tea, and you welcomed the day in the tafana.
Tafana avanos cappadocia front
So when Ismet Ince (now Avanos’ mayor) opened the Tafana restaurant in 1989 he did so with a purpose. “ “Tafana” will serve as a bridge between the past and the future in Avanos. But in today’s “Tafana” we feel we have the right to use this name, in that it can give you, our guests, the warmth of the real “Tafana”, its namesake.” And they have been serving up delicious pide and kebap dishes, as well as Avanos tafana hospitality, ever since.

However, when you come to Tafana today you will no longer find Ismet Ince serving you, but new manager, Cem Yildirim.

Tafana avanos cappadocia cookCem comes from Istanbul, and a 15 year restaurant career there. Instantly I wondered how he got here from Istanbul. “I traveled a lot. I visited Cappadocia in 2001 and met the owner, Ahmet. We stayed friends. When Ahmet took over the restaurant, he knew I had restaurant experience, so he called me to manage the restaurant,” was his reply.


There is a world of difference between Istanbul and Avanos, so I asked if he’s been able to adjust to life here. “I love it. It’s so quiet and slow compared to Istanbul.’ But there is a difference, he said, in managing a restaurant in Istanbul and managing Tafana in Avanos. “The people here are used to eating local food. I managed an Italian restaurant in Istanbul, but I couldn’t bring that menu here. Tourists would eat international food, but locals here are not as adventurous in what they eat, so we specialize in traditional food.”

I can vouch for that. Traditional food here consists of testi kebap (meat stew in a clay pot), clay pot baked beans (çömlekte kuru fasulye), and manti (Turkish raviolis). I had both the beans and the meat stew and can testify to the quality of the food. The meat in the stew was both tender and delicious. Ismail the chef prepared a special sauce that was just the right combination of garlic, tomato, peppers, and onions. I was surprised at the serving size of the portions. Upon first glance, the clay dish in which it was served, feigned of being a satisfying meal. But half way through I thought, “I could take half of this home.” The portion was not just satisfying but more than enough.

Tafana avanos cappadocia dining room Your host, Cem, tries to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps. Ismet Ince has traveled to 81 different countries. As for Cem, he has friends in Italy, China, and elsewhere. Many of whom, have invited him to open restaurants there. “A friend encouraged me to open a Turkish restaurant in China but I couldn’t live there. The pollution was too much, and the heat was unbearable.” He has dreams of visiting America, and New Zealand.

The Tafana awaits you when you visit Avanos. Come experience the delicious flavors of the restaurant, while you enjoy the “Tafana” hospitality of Avanos, through Cem and his staff.

Atatürk Cad. No. 31 (town center)
50500 Avanos
Tel. 0384 511 4862

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Christian Dedrick is an English teacher living in Avanos. He has lived in Turkey since 2008 with his wife and three sons. He moved to Cappadocia in 2011 and is excited to be sharing stories from his life here. He enjoys spending time with Cappadocians, hearing, and telling their stories.
He began writing for CaptivatingCappadocia in spring 2012.
Click here to read more about Christian.