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.
All entries filed under this archive
no responses - Posted 02.04.14
Turkey as a country does not deal in absolutes, even though some of its more bombastic citizens are known to. So when one hears the numerous bewildered complaints about Istanbul’s dearth of falafel and hummus, the correct response is not “Turkish food is not chickpea-compliant,” but “You are not going ...continue
no responses - Posted 01.08.14
Near the Aksaray metro station, set back from a loveless part of Istanbul crossed by wide roads and overpasses, the kebab is flourishing. Over the past few decades, waves of migration have brought a particularly southeast Anatolian flavor to the otherwise drab apartment blocks and government buildings of this part ...continue
no responses - Posted 11.29.13
These days, writing about Istanbul’s old-school restaurants can be heartbreaking work. No sooner do we find out about a classic lunch spot than it turns out the place is about to be closed down to make way for yet another development project. Meanwhile, Istanbul’s relentless drive to modernize and “clean ...continue
1 response - Posted 10.17.13
We generally regard the Grand Bazaar as a place of punishment, a den of aggressive, wolf-like hustlers and innocent, lamb-like tourists wearing novelty fez hats. When we have to go, we like to think of ourselves as members of a prison SWAT team, sent in to search a cell for ...continue
no responses - Posted 09.18.13
Southeastern Turkey’s culinary mecca of Gaziantep is best known for its baklava and kebabs. But lately we’ve been thinking that it's soup that may actually be the city’s real crowning glory. Not just any old soup, mind you, but beyran çorbası, a stupendously delicious lamb-based broth that is usually slurped ...continue
no responses - Posted 09.04.13
In 1922, reporting for the Toronto Daily Star from the borderlands of the Thrace region, Ernest Hemingway wrote of a “Silent, Ghastly Procession” of Christian refugees fleeing the advance of “the Turk.” The literature and art of the Christian Anatolians exiled in this period – from the films of Angelopoulos ...continue
no responses - Posted 08.13.13
In Istanbul, if all you have is a street address for a restaurant, you are as good as lost. It’s all about proximity to landmarks, as in “postanedeki kokoreççi” (the kokoreç vendor near the post office) or “Süleymaniye’deki kuru fasulyeciler” (the bean eateries at Süleymaniye Mosque). This is the way ...continue
2 responses - Posted 07.15.13
One of the great joys of spring and summertime in Istanbul is the chance to get away for a day to one of the Princes’ Islands, the car-free and forested archipelago that is a short ferry ride away from the city. The only downside to an island hop is actually ...continue
no responses - Posted 07.02.13
In our imaginary primetime lineup, a reality show called “Pimp My Kebab Salon” transforms a drab kebab shop into a grill palace suited to the tastes of the latter-day sultans. Surfaces are suddenly gilded in gold, fountains appear and everything is reupholstered under the watchful eye of the boisterous host ...continue
no responses - Posted 04.30.13
Though it may seem bewildering or even exotic to outsiders, Istanbul’s commercial life is actually organized according to a very old, guildlike system that assigns different neighborhoods to the sale and sometimes manufacture of different types of products. If you bottom out in a pothole and need a rot balans, ...continue