Istanbul report - Rego Park/Forest Hills
Went to Istanbul on Queens Blvd across the street from Bed, Bath and Beyond on 63 Rd last night. We ordered the chicken kebobs and chicken adana and the chicken was tasty and moist. The inside was a little dirty (old table cloth with food stains and some flies wandering around), but we were able to deal with it.
The humus was also very good and the fresh pita helped. The yogurt sauce was in a maple syrup style dispenser and it was a task getting it out onto the plate. The service was friendly and for two peole (two entrees and a side of humus) came out to under $40 including tip.
I would recommend it more for take-out if you can, but the food was yummy either way.
Glad for this post. I've eaten there three times, had the adana kebab twice. As moist and flavorful as it gets, without losing the taste and texture of the meat. Would go back again for the bread alone. Also, great, friendly, laid back service and atmosphere - just a comfortable neighborhood place to eat. I'm glad I live close enough to walk it in 20 minutes or so, but we could definitely use more of this type of eatery in nearby Forest Hills.
Seems like you might have been unlucky vis-a-vis the dirty table. Perhaps, because I've only gone at uncrowded times, the wait staff had more time to tidy up. Hope this doesn't signal a pattern, because this is an otherwise excellent restaurant.
Just finished up a delicious chicken gyro (on their fresh homemade bread for 50 cents more). I was talking to a friend who was having lunch and didn't notice when the sandwich was being made so I was shocked when I got back to my desk and saw the size of the thing. The bread must have been at least 6 inches square, making for one mighty bang for the buck ($5.50). All sauces come on the side, so no worries about the usually messy, disintegration-when-you-take-one-bite fiasco. The chicken was tender and flavorful. I ate in the restaurant (in the outdoor patio) once 6 months or so ago after they had just reopened and wasn't thrilled since they had no lunch specials and thought it was pricey for lunch. I guess I ignored the sandwich part of the menu. Won't do that anymore. Can't wait to try the falafel, which I've read on another post rivals the best in the borough.
I've mostly had spreads and such from this place, but that stuff has always been terrific. They make the best stuffed grape leaves I personally have ever eaten--none of that mouth-puckering, too-much-vinegar taste, just delicious. And the babaganoush is also excellent.
I love that great message boards like Chowhound exist because I have been able to find little "gems" in my neck of the woods, Rego Park/Forest Hills. My friend and I play tennis around Istanbul, and she's a very picky vegetarian. I had read that Istanbul had a very popular and tasty vegetable appetizer for $11.50. I also read on Yelp that there was a patio in the back, which was perfect for a nice, sunny day. The restaurant itself did not seem dirty at all. On the right, when you walk in, there is a deli/meat case where most people probably get their take-out (e.g. kebabs, doners). You can also get baklava. But the dining room had white tablecloths and a really friendly staff. It wasn't as divey as I was expecting. We asked to sit in the outdoor courtyard area, which has a wooden deck and some plants. The tables and chairs were of the "folding" variety. No tablecloths here. It was a perfect retreat for my friend and me, who just wanted some fresh air and a small bite to eat. Immediately upon sitting, the server gave us hot bread (the diameter of pancakes but much thicker than the pita we see in the supermarkets). I'm not sure if it was pita, although some reviewers describe it as such.
Now onto the appetizer plate! It was abundant and bursting with flavors! It did not disappoint (and that's saying a lot because my friend is finicky). There were about eight different kinds of things to try on the plate, but the ones I remember were hummus, baba gunuss, Acılı ezme (spicy ezme), tabbouleh, yogurt sauce (tzaziki?) and a seemingly out-of-place mayonnaise-based salad (looked like potato salad). You'll have to pardon my spellings, but I'm new to Turkish cuisine (although I've tried "New Turkish" a la Whole Foods and Eli Zabar). I'd go back to have the spicy ezme all by itself! The server said that there were bellpeppers, jalopeno peppers, sumac and garlic in it. It was like their version of salsa! I'd definitely go back to try the falafel, stuffed grape leaves and other goodies when my friend and I work up more of a sweat! Oh, and it's convenient for those who take mass transit--it's steps from the 63rd Drive subway stop and the Q60 bus stop (across the street from the Marshalls/Sears/Old Navy complex).
Isn't that appetizer plate awesome? I only get to Istanbul once or twice a year (I'm living in the Midwest, but my parents are within walking distance), but it's always great. By the way, the "seemingly out-of-place mayonnaise-based salad " is called Russian salad there. We've learned to ask them to substitute it with one of the other delicious items, which they gladly do.
By the way, the gyro platter (not sure if that's what it's called---the one served with rice and yogurt sauce on top) is also outstanding.