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Dec 11
Reviews (Eats)
Mari: The Cosmopolitan

Mekan, photo by Monique Jaques
In the great multicultural Anatolian kitchen, questions about the ethnic or national origins of foods are often cause for forks and knives to fly. A porridge called keşkek is a hot-button diplomatic issue between Turkey and Armenia, and we won’t even get started on the ongoing baklava debate. So what to make of this cuisine that draws influences from every corner of the former Ottoman lands, a territory stretching from the Balkans to North Africa? The answer might be in a simple term that’s becoming popular among Turkey’s minorities. The word Türkiyeli means “of Turkey” and differs significantly (and quite intentionally) from the word Türk, which often adds ethno-religious shades to nationality.

We find Türkiyeli to be an apt description of most things in this country, and certainly of the restaurant Mari, whose heritage is anything but simple: owned by Armenian and Jewish business partners, the venue is frequented by a diverse clientele that includes many Istanbul Armenians. Nevertheless, Mari wears its identity loosely and is not trying to be anything but a good restaurant with a kitchen turning out well-made, traditional favorites. Hold the culinary nationalism, and dig in.

Read the rest of the update review on Culinary Backstreets.

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5 Responses to “ Mari: The Cosmopolitan ”
  1. Betsy Dribben

    Feb 7, 2013

    This must be a different Mekan because the very same restaurant we dined in one evening was the worst. The service was nonexistent with the owner sitting at another table smoking and chatting with a friend, the food had no taste and the prices were way out of line with what they served. Mekan is a restaurant to avoid!

  2. Hello Betsy,

    We are a bit puzzled by the meal you describe.
    Is there a chance that you visited another place by the same or similar name? “Mekan” in Turkish is a general term for a venue. It is used quite often.
    We’ve been going to this restaurant for years and always had very good experiences, in terms of both food and service. In Istanbul, bad service is not something that restaurants very easily get away with and maintain a strong local following. This place has not changed its waitstaff in the years we’ve been going and it is usually fairly busy with regulars.
    Together with our experiences, we’ve generally received positive feedback about the place from local Turks and foreign visitors. Here’s a link to our facebook page which has more active discussion on the restaurant. If you scroll down you’ll see the posts we made about Mekan and other diner’s reactions.
    All that said, we try to monitor the places we write about and we will keep an eye on Mekan.

    Thank you for the comment.

  3. Publishing the address might help? Solves the problem of which place it was?

  4. Hello Peter,

    In the review’s full form, we published the address and a map. See here:

  5. I just love Instanbul. Good friends…Good food…Good times…Cheers Thanks for sharing.

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