ThursdayFiled under Reviews (Eats)
If there are an estimated 17 million souls in Istanbul, then there are at least that many opinions on the best kebab house in town. There are stodgy oak-paneled rooms with country-club appeal, where well-dressed businessmen marvel at heaping plates of delicious grilled meat. And there are 24/7 hole-in-the-walls, where lines form out the door for kebab that is just as tasty and expertly cooked.
Any credible best-of list will take for granted that what is coming off the grill is fresh and well-prepared, which leaves the determining factors somewhere outside of the sense of taste and more to a sense of personal style.
We want to feel comfortable eating with our hands and don’t mind if the table next to us gets loud as the rakı bottle makes its rounds. We want to be able to sit at the grill or at least close enough to feel the heat on our backs, reminding us of the valuable work of the usta preparing our food. We don’t want to see a menu or hear any fancy kebab names; ordering should resemble an exchange at a butcher shop – just cuts of meat.
That said, there are places that excel at certain specialty kebabs, such as offal, that we include not as a novelty but because sometimes no lamb chop can satisfy a hunger pang for liver.
Find out what our Top 5 kebab restaurants are at Culinary Backstreets.
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1 response - Posted 12.23.13
Breakfast in Erzincan We were strangers in a strange land – eastern Turkey’s Erzincan, to be exact – and Yalçın Kaya welcomed us into his cheese shop with such gracious fervor that it didn’t surprise us to find out that this Anatolian cheesemonger moonlights as an imam. "Have you had breakfast?" the ...continue
1 response - Posted 09.12.13
It is puzzling that Istanbul, a city of some 15 million people with an increasingly lavish lifestyle, a world-famous cuisine and a booming tourism industry, has so little sparkle when it comes to fine dining. We’re surprised that the Prime Minister himself has not jumped into the culinary scrum by ...continue
2 responses - Posted 06.20.13
Editor’s note: This feature is the first piece in a series covering locally owned neighborhood eateries that offer an alternative to the food courts and chain restaurants in Istanbul’s most popular shopping malls. We’ll be digging into the streets around Cevahir and Akmerkez malls next. Please send us your tips, ...continue
no responses - Posted 06.14.13
Editor’s note: While the fate of the Gezi Park occupation is being hotly discussed, we’ve been spending our time sipping deeper into Turkey’s other great debate: what is the country’s national drink? In the spirit of national reconciliation, below is our report. The recent protests that raged across Turkey may have ...continue
1 response - Posted 04.15.13
In an opinion piece published recently in the Latitude blog of The New York Times, veteran Turkey correspondent Andrew Finkel’s brutally honest appraisal of the state of “New Turkish Cuisine” called much of Istanbul’s restaurant establishment – down to the customers – into question. We’ve had similar misgivings after meals ...continue
1 response - Posted 03.28.13
Editor’s note: We eagerly await the coming of spring each year, not just for the nicer weather but also because some of our favorite foods and dishes are at their best – or indeed, are only available – for a short period during this season. Here we take a look ...continue
no responses - Posted 03.18.13
It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Meg Ryan’s big moment at Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met Sally, but a low-register, guttural moan of pleasure was detected from our table when we tasted the shredded celery root in yogurt, a house specialty meze at Çukur Meyhane. And we weren’t faking ...continue
no responses - Posted 03.08.13
In a 2003 TV commercial for Cola Turka, the actor Chevy Chase was seen speaking Turkish and then sporting a moustache, after taking just one sip of the intended challenger of Coke in this country. This sensational ad – which riffed on the old theme of American cultural imperialism through ...continue
1 response - Posted 02.18.13
As we've previously chronicled, the Tünel end of Istanbul’s famed İstiklal Caddesi was some two years ago the site of a heated burger war. It all started when a former Turkish basketball-player-turned-restaurateur who had spent time studying in California opened up Mano Burger, a mostly successful recreation of the kind ...continue
no responses - Posted 02.11.13
The Turkish proverb “At, avrat, silah ödünç verilmez” (“neither horse, wife nor weapon should be lent”) is sometimes repeated as a way to recall the nomadic warrior past of the Turks. The primal Turkish essentials are clearly stated, but what about the çay bardağı, the tea glass that has become ...continue