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Amazing Turkish restaurants?

Hi, my husband is Turkish and his birthday is tomorrow. I want to take him to an amazing Turkish restaurant, preferably somewhere a little romantic, too. We've been to Ali Baba plenty of times and love it, but I'd like to take him somewhere different that he doesn't expect.... any suggestions? I have been reading reviews but want to hear first hand suggestions. Thanks so much!

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    1. I love Turkish Kitchen on 3rd Ave b/t 28th and 29th. I have found it to be superlative Turkish food. Try to get a table at the upstair balcony if you can, it's a little more romantic than downstairs, which can get a little loud and the tables are close together.

      11 Replies
      1. re: vinogirl212

        i second turkish kitchen. the food is outstanding but the service was really bad - just nasty w/ major mistakes. as bad as the service was, the food was so good that i'd go back. yes, it was that good.

          1. re: nativeNYer

            As regulars to this board know, we've been going to Turkish Kitchen for years. Countless lunches and dinners there, and the food is always excellent. We occasionally make an entire meal of the hot and cold mezzes. My particular favorites are the sigara boregi and the patlican salitasi. The shepherd's salad is also first-rate. And the lentil soup, available only during cold weather months, is delicious. For mains, my favorite is the grilled baby lamb chops, and my husband's is the lamb. We don't often have dessert, but when we do, I usually choose the stuffed dried apricots.

            I know there have been complaints about service, but we have never experienced any problems. Although the staff may not be the friendliest in town, we've always found service to be very efficient.

            The red decor is attractive, and they recently replaced the chairs that were slip-covered in red with new, more-comfortable black leather ones. And even when the place is full -- which is most of the time because it's extremely popular -- the noise level remains conversation-friendly.

            http://www.turkishkitchenny.com

            1. re: RGR

              RGR, after hearing you recommend Turkish Kitchen over and over, I finally got a chance to try it this weekend. It really was very good. We were lucky in that we got hungry early and were able to take advantage of the early bird dinner special (4 courses for $22, and the selection for the various courses is not at all skimpy). So thanks for the recommendation.

              1. re: platypus

                Just wanted to reply to link to a place...

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                Turkish Kitchen
                386 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10016

                1. re: platypus

                  Hey, platypus, Thanks for reporting back. Nice to know that your first experience at Turkish Kitchen was a good one.

              2. re: nativeNYer

                That's surprising....I've only been twice but both times the service was bend-over-backwards hospitable. Agreed that the food is delicious, on par with what I've had in Turkey but of course, at double the cost!

                1. re: vinogirl212

                  What food do you like there? When I went about a year and a half ago, I didn't understand what all the fuss was about. For the record, my service was fine, though I didn't see the point of all the sort of stylized formality, but the food was very blah.

                  1. re: Pan

                    Agreed...i went there once and didn't really understand why many people here like it so much...

                    1. re: Pan

                      Their manti is excellent--expensive, but worth it! Iskender kebab is outstanding, while it pains me knowing this is such a common cheap dish in Turkey, their version is really delicious. Hunkar begendi was actually better than what I had in Turkey, with exceptional eggplant puree, very smoky and buttery. It's been a long time so I can't remember the other dishes but those keep me dreaming of going back.

                    1. beyoglu on the ues is really good! they have a wonderful mezze platter.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: shirlotta

                        FWIW - I think their mezze are much better than their main courses. Lovely outdoor patio.

                        1. re: shirlotta

                          Haven't tried a lot of the places mentioned here but am a big fan of Beyoglu! Spinach with dill is delicious.

                        2. Thanks to everyone for the helpful suggestions. Right now it is between Turkish Kitchen and Pasha. Leaning towards Turkish Kitchen though.... thanks again to all!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: jessicacolak

                            FYI, I wasn't blown away with Pasha, either. I ate there as part of a table of 8 plus one baby a few months ago. Everything was fine and the ambiance is very nice, but few items were more than merely good.

                            1. re: Pan

                              i prefer turkish kitchen over pasha with regard to the food. pasha wasn't terrible but it doesn't draw me back even though i live right there. however, i have foodie friends who love pasha and i must honestly admit i'm not a turkish food expert by any stretch but neither are they.

                              there must be one or two bad servers in turkish kitchen which would explain the inconsistent service. we sat upstairs and were served by a tall man in his forties.

                              in response to simon and pan's posts, we tried the kalamar tava, sigara boregi and cacik. all choices were outstanding including the bread. the cacik was to die for. i had the doner kebab (YUMMMMMM!!!) and my friend had the bonfile sis which she loved. the quality of the meat was superb, the serving size was very large and even the potatoes that accompanied my friend's entree were great.

                              we also had a bottle of turkish wine. i wish i could remember the name but it was great even though the waiter brought it after the appetizers despiter several reminders

                              1. re: nativeNYer

                                I agree with Pan and nativeNYer, Pasha didn't strike me as anything special. The ambiance was nice but the food wasn't memorable.

                          2. We've had some really nice dinners at Peri Ela...Lex & 91...good food, gracious service, attractive, small neighborhood place....

                            here's a review from another CH...

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/380942

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: fauchon

                              Now, this place I _really_ don't recommend, based on my one and only trip there! You can find my report in this thread:

                              http://www.chow.com/topics/378328

                              It's sad that the East Village branch of Taksim, which I mentioned, suddenly disappeared after only a short time of existence. That was a place I liked.

                              1. re: Pan

                                Thanks for the update! We haven't been there since Feb/March so obviously things have changed...too bad...

                            2. My ex-fiancee is Turkish and we have made a hobby of trying the Turkish restaurants in New York. I love Dervish (near times square). My favorite thing there is Tavuklu Hunkar. I also like Uskudar on the UES. If I am trying to eat quickly/cheaply, I usually end up at Bereket on Houston St for doner kabab. Also, if a trip to the boroughs is in order, Sahara is good. Also, Cafe Mavi in Summit, NJ is the place that we agreed was most authentic to Turkey. The food is devine and they have belly dancing certain nights of the week.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: ohromujici

                                I found Dervish disappointing, though I love the old NY saloon feel to the room. In that neighborhood I prefer Akdeniz (amazing Sultan's Delight). Someone above mentioned Turkuaz, which may be the worst Turkish place I've been to in NY. Though excellent, I haven't been to Turkish Kitchen for some time since Ali Baba is so good and so cheap.

                                http://petercherches.blogspot.com

                                1. re: Peter Cherches

                                  Akdeniz is great - a definite try. I've eaten there multiple times and never was diappointed.

                                  1. re: Peter Cherches

                                    Is Ali Baba really that cheap? Or is it a different place than I'm thinking of? Comparing on menupages it looks about on par with Turkish Kitchen, at the most $1.50 less for some dishes. It does sound great though, and has so many yogurtlu kebabs!

                                2. Turkish Kitchen is absolutely fantastic. For the best deal, go from 4:30-6:30 p.m. (I believe weekdays only) and you get a 3 course meal for $22! Otherwise, expect to sped at least $80 for 2 people.

                                  Try the eggplant appetizer, and their baklava is outstanding!

                                  I had the lamb shank with potatoes (instead of rice), and I LOVED IT!
                                  My brother had the Sea Bass and loved it too. Can't go wrong with some Turkish red wine either.

                                  Enjoy!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: rmcase13

                                    Is this early-dinner just not advertised? They do advertise a lunch special, 3 courses for $13.95. I don't work near there but one of these days I might need to take a long lunch.

                                    1. re: NancyC

                                      Actually, TK's lunch special is *4* courses, and the cost is now $16.95. Despite the many times we've gone there, this is the first I've heard of a dinner special, so I just called. The dinner special is, indeed, $22, and it is served Mon.-Thurs., from 5:30-6:30. (Orders must be in by 6:30.) I suggested to the gentleman I spoke with that he post it on their website. He said he would.

                                  2. I too agree on Pasha. The room is very relaxing and the service is good, but the food is just okay to good. We will have to try Turkish Kitchen when we get back to the city in four weeks.

                                    1. I like Taksim on Second Ave. at 54th St.

                                      It's not "fine dining," but I have had some very enjoyable meals there. I like their Adana kebabs and their appetizers, like the lentil balls. One complaint -- the copious portions of rice served with everything is parboiled rice. I understand that this must be rather convenient for the kitchen, but ... ya know.

                                      Do people use parboiled rice in Turkey rather than the real thing?

                                      Taksim also serves beer and wine if that makes a difference.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: foodmonk

                                        foodmonk, do you have any information on why Taksim closed their East Village branch suddenly, after only a few months of operation? I really think they missed the boat. It takes time for a restaurant, especially one that big, to make a profit, but I was doing my best to help them with word of mouth and posts, and I did notice an increase in their clientele over time. I could compare the experience of Madras Cafe, which lost a lot of money in its first year of operation (the chef-owner told me). But in time, through word of mouth and posts (including by me) on websites like this one, eGullet, etc., they eventually got reviewed by Asimov (IIRC) and others and do a good business now. The place is successful because the owner is a chef and has always been committed to serving good food. I believe Taksim could have been successful in the East Village for similar reasons - good food, fair prices. I really miss Taksim East Village.

                                        1. re: Pan

                                          No idea at all ... Actually, though, I should not have contributed my recommendation for Taksim in this particular post, as it's not a place that I would recommend for something "romantic." The place is ... uh ... very brightly lit and a bit noisy. No romance there at all.

                                          1. re: Pan

                                            Taksim may have closed in the East Village because they weren't drawing much business.

                                            1. re: Peter Cherches

                                              I daresay, few restaurants that size fill up after only a few months. I just don't understand it. Did they chicken out, or was there some other reason? I hope someone has a chance to talk to the ownership and find out. I know that they told me they were making all the food at the East Village location and trucking it up to the uptown location as necessary, so they seemed committed to really giving the East Village location a go.

                                          1. re: LeahBaila

                                            second the ali baba; I even prefer it over turkish kitchen . . . .