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Duo Behind Popular Sunnyvale Pop-up to Open Istanbul-Style Tavern in Downtown Palo Alto

Chef Omer Artun’s Meyhouse aims to be a lively destination for Turkish food and drink

Clams from Meyhouse.
Clams from Meyhouse.
Isabel Baer

Omer Artun and co-owner Koray Altinsoy are taking their Sunnyvale pop-up Meyhouse — popular for its live music and serving offerings ranging from modern Israeli to Turkish breakfast — to Palo Alto this summer. The restaurant’s name comes from the Farsi words “mey,” meaning wine, and “khāneh” meaning house. Artun says that’s because he wants to host lots of live music at the new restaurant. “In Italy they have trattorias,” Artun says. “In Turkey, we have the meyhane. It’s basically a tapas house, where you go and the main attraction is your company, music, small plates, and drinking.”

From 2017 to 2019, Artun just did the pop-up on weekends, but about three years ago he and Altinsoy found a space offering a month-to-month lease that had been vacated due to the pandemic. They started using the kitchen of the downtown Sunnyvale spot, and things got bigger than Artun ever anticipated. “Then COVID hit,” Artun says. “Now we have the lease on this new space, and it’s going to be a beautiful and elegant place.”

Artun, who has a background as a software entrepreneur with a background in physics, says he appreciates the science behind food. Altinsoy comes from marketing and strategy, and he’ll handle the operational end of the business. The two owners are working with a number of consultants including Michael Huffman, who is also a partner at Robin’s upcoming Menlo Park outpost.

Bread baking in the wood-fire oven at Meyhouse.
Bread baking in the wood-fire oven at Meyhouse.
Isabel Baer
Chef Omer Artun kneading the bread at Meyhouse.
Chef Omer Artun kneading the bread at Meyhouse.
Isabel Baer

The restaurant will focus on mezes, or small plates, and many of the dishes will be made in the restaurant’s wood-fired oven. A few items off the debut menu include mussels marinated “al-sikbaj” with warm spices, fire-roasted Chilean sea bass seasoned with a modern version of murri (an ancient Byzantine condiment with fig and ginger), and a salt-cured Atlantic bonito. Seafood is the main attraction; fresh fish on ice will be on prominent display, and guests can order their choice to be prepared in a myriad of methods.

The drinks draw on the intersection of California and Turkey much like the food, and the wine and cocktail program is a powerhouse. The Sesame & Cane, a spin on a mai tai, includes two types of rum, toasted sesame orgeat, Satsuma Creole Shrubb, cinnamon, and mint.

Artun is a ceramicist, as well, so he’ll design and build most of the plates and decor. He has a partnership he can’t speak about just yet that will play a big part in a speakeasy he’s designing for the back of the space, too. The restaurant, hoping to continue the thematic elements of land and sea in its design, will open this summer at 640 Emerson Street in downtown Palo Alto.

Fresh fish on ice are available to select and order at Meyhouse.
Fresh fish on ice are available to select and order at Meyhouse.
Liza Johnson

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