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
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
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
2 responses - Posted 04.01.13
Kadınlar Pazarı – a pleasant, pedestrian-only square in Istanbul’s Fatih neighborhood – is the closest thing the city has to a “Little Kurdistan.” The area is populated by migrants from Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast region, and small market stalls and butcher shops selling honey, cheeses, spices and other goodies from ...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 03.12.13
Lahmacun is one of those mysterious foods where a lot is created with so little. It checks all of the boxes of a perfect savory snack: crispy, oven-fired crust, light and spicy meat spread, a fresh green garnish and a tangy spray from a lemon. It’s like an artisanal pizza ...continue
no responses - Posted 01.07.13
Dear Istanbul Eats, I’ll have an eight-hour layover in Istanbul and was wondering if you have any suggestions for places to go for a good Turkish breakfast and lunch. I love to eat at small, local places serving authentic food. I would prefer restaurants in the Yeşilköy area, as I have ...continue
no responses - Posted 12.28.12
After four years of publishing weekly dispatches from Istanbul’s culinary backstreets, we are still regularly surprised by new discoveries, impressed by the staying power of old standards and shocked by how quickly so much can change. For better or for worse, it is that dynamism that Istanbulites line up for, ...continue
no responses - Posted 12.03.12
It is hard to identify exactly when the forgotten neck of Istanbul between Etiler and Arnavutköy became prime real estate. Not so long ago, overgrown green space alongside the road was interrupted by the occasional car wash and low-slung shanty; it was not so much a place as a road ...continue