If there is really, truly, any cuisine that sates one’s hunger more satisfyingly than Turkish, please write in and tell us.
And we will write back responding “No, you’re wrong.”
Because there simply is not. Good Turkish food is one of life’s great pleasures. And, fortunately, there are some seriously great Turkish restaurants in London. Specifically…
Justin De Souza
Dalston’s premier Ocakbasi Grill has been overfilling grateful patrons since 1994, and is perhaps the name whispered most widely and reverentially when one asks around for “the best Turkish restaurant in London”. Bring a friend (bag a table in advance to be safe), and treat yourself to the monster Dairy Cow Rib salad – and, if you’re feeling ambitious, the lamb’s heart pide with pickled cucumbers.
Details: 4 Stoke Newington Road, London, N16 7XN | Book here
Kentish Town’s beloved Turkish restaurant — the one with the beautiful Victorian shop-front — gives really, really good kebab. We’re talking high quality doner (made fresh and on-site), succulent lamb shish, and irresistible, yoghurty İskender. What they’ve also now mastered, joyously, is fish –think whole sea bream, expertly charred. Whatever you order as your main, your meal will naturally be bolstered by vast mounds of rice, endless piquant salads, and a sense of utter, utter satisfaction. Accept no imitations – the Finsbury Park restaurant of the same name isn’t related.
Details: 285-287 Kentish Town Road, London NW5 2JS | Book on 02074859779
Yes, you have to go to Cockfosters. Yes, it’s worth it. The team at this (extremely) North London Turkish institution talk a fearlessly big game; “Between Insanity and Genius There is a Fine Line Which Runs Through Our Kitchen, Into Our Menu and Onto Your Table”, runs the mission statement on their website. But, fair play, they can back it up. Order their trademark lamb fillet, and thank your Oyster card later.
Details: 12 Cockfosters Parade, London, EN4 OBX | Book here
The reincarnation of Black Axe Mangal – for some years London’s premier hipster restaurant – is somehow now even more hipster, and yet so irritatingly accomplished that it’s impossible to be irritated by it. Chef Lee Tiernan cooks Turkish-inspired food infused with the spirit of St. John, and, incredibly…it works. Peruse the alluring Instagram account (for there is where the ever-changing fixed-price menu can be found), book a table, and dive headfirst into culinary paradise.
Details: 156 Canonbury Road, London N1 2UP | Book here
You’ve either tried a gözleme, or you haven’t lived. It’s a savoury turnover, stuffed with spinach, or minced meat, or cheese, or potato, or a combination thereof, before being stuffed into you. It’s a delicacy very much available at Hala, which offers traditional Turkish cuisine to the implausibly lucky inhabitants of Green Lanes, and those wise enough to travel there. The grill game is impeccable, the chicken wings notably superb, and the soups – that’s right, the soups – downright addictive.
Details: 29-30 Grand Parade, Harringay, London N4 1LG | Book here
Nestled in the heart of Shoreditch proper, Oklava is where chef Selin Kiazim holds forth, drawing on her Turkish-Cypriot heritage to create dishes which are simultaneously traditional, modern, and – crucially – utterly delicious. There are small plates, but the cooking’s so good you won’t resent them. Kiazim is a dessert fiend too (as attested to by her victory in the dessert course of the 2017 Great British Menu), so look out for the künefe, a spun-pastry-meets-clotted-cream affair that is heart-stopping in every sense of the word.
Details: 74 Luke St, London EC2A 4PY | Book here
You know Carnaby Street, right? Famous for its associations with Jimi Hendrix, far-out fashion, and high-quality modern Turkish restaurants? Right? OK, fine – the latter is a recent addition. But it’s perfectly true, now that the area boasts the talents of chef Esra Musulu – whose menu at the beautifully appointed Zahter is creative and bursting with flavour, and nigh-on guaranteed to leave you utterly sated. Seek out the samphire, pickled apricot and red chilli from the cold mezze, then strap in for the dana kulbasti beef fillet. Dinner (and quite possibly tomorrow’s lunch, depending on how much of the beef fillet you conquer) is served.
Details: 30-32 Foubert’s Place, Soho, W1F 7PS | Book here
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