Filfilah in Columbia Heights
Ate there last weekend. Turkish food. Everything was good.
We wanted to sample a variety of things, so we ordered the meze plate and the combo platter. The portions are generous, we had enough food to feed 5 adults.
From the meze plate:
Hummus -- delicate, not too sour, mild tahini taste, creamy, really liked this one
Baba ghanoush -- delicate, mostly smokey flavor, good
Dolmeh -- mild, not too sour, olive oil taste, I usually do not like these but actually ate one, they are the best I've tried, still don't like them in general
Tzatziki -- delicate but good
Feta and kalamata olives -- salty and typical
Lamb and beef shawarma: actual chunks of beef and lamb, mild flavor, very good
Lamb kebab: juicy, tender, mild flavor, excellent, highly recommend
Chicke Kebab: juicy, tender, mild flavor, excellent, highly recommend
Chicken shawarma: chuncks of chicken, mild flavor, not as good as chicken kebab
Falafel: the best I've ever had, they put sesame seeds in it, good texture and flavor. Hubby generally will not eat falafel but he ate 2 or 3 of them and said they were good.
The chef has a delicate touch when it comes to spices, but they are well balanced and nothing is over powering. You can probably tell that I do not like things that are too sour -- too often there is just too much lemon juice and/or garlic in these type of dishes and it tends to overpower all other flavors.
Will be going back there again soon.
4301 Central Ave NE
Columbia Heights, MN 55421
Filfillah was our first stop after Albertville. I loved it! I had the chicken schwarma pide (pita pie?) and my travelling companion had the iskender. We should have asked for the kunafa when we first got there because they didn't have any ready when we finally did order it (and we couldn't wait for it because we were running late for dinner #2).
Our plan is to go back for lunch before heading back home on Tuesday. We'll call first, to make sure we get lots of kunafa! Well, at least two pieces of kunafa.
We went to Filfillah tonight, and lucked into the Ramadan buffet. (We arrived close to their normal closing time, and were braced for a "Closed" sign, but of course they're open later during Ramadan, hooray!) The place was packed with lots of happy families and the buffet had TONS of food.
I'm guessing that most dishes weren't from the regular menu. My favorites were some plain-yet-spicy köfte (meatballs), goat (or mutton?) cooked in yogurt, the puffy bread, and some amazing baked yogurt rice with chicken shreds. The only dish I didn't like was a chicken-vegetable stew; the veggies and sauce were great, but the chicken (which was cut in perfect rectangles) was very dry. Oh, but the desserts! Mr. Tastebud and I shared a bowl of wonderful rice pudding and a custard-filo triangle that was the stuff that dreams are made of. Mine, anyway.
As far as Turkish food - I didn't see anything that looked uniquely Turkish in the buffet, and didn't hear any Turkish being spoken (the families near us were speaking Arabic). But I did see a picture of Adana Kebabs on the main menu, and the spices in the rice pudding were very Turkish (e.g., cinnamon only; no cardamom). I was too busy swooning with happiness to do more research.
Ramadan continues through August 18, and I'm hoping I'll have time for a return visit. But I wouldn't arrive before sunset, and I would plan on parking on the side street. The parking lot was completely full on a Thursday night.
Correction for my statement above:
>> As far as Turkish food - I didn't see anything that looked uniquely Turkish in the buffet,
Oh, yes, I did! I got out my 8 Turkish cookbooks when I got home ( to look for that awesome yogurt rice), and saw a recipe for "Wedding Fricasse #3" that's exactly the meat in yogurt sauce on the buffet. It calls for mutton hocks, so that's probably what I ate. Yum! And clearly very Turkish.
So I stand corrected.
It seems that we'll make the trip to Filfillah after all! Sounds like the food is delicious, and with or without pide, it seems like a worthy stop. They open early for lunch, so we should be able to pass by on the drive back home.
Thanks for posting the link to the menu, jbanana. It was very helpful! (Oddly, none of the other links on that page worked for me.)
We ordered out from there recently. There was no online menu so I got the meat platter for 2, a mezze platter, and some falafel. The portions are absolutely enormous. The meat platter came in one of those catering tins, we had over a dozen falafel, two meals worth of hummus, bread and such, and a full sized salad.
I appreciated the quality of the meat in general. However, the flavoring was a bit inconsistent. Some of the pieces had a nice smoky taste to them, while some were bland. I think it was just a bit underseasoned compared to places like Aida and Black Sea.
Still, for the quantity and quality of meat, it was a solid value.
I've had a craving for Turkish food, and it looks like Filfillah might fit into our schedule during out next trip to MSP. I've looked online for a menu, but could not find one. Could someone tell me if they have pide? That's what I'm craving most (I'll probably go even if they don't have pide, but I'd love to get me some if available!).
re: alpa chino
Filfillah is a Turkish restaurant in the sense that the guy who owns/runs it is from Turkey.
Does he offer what you're seeking? I don't know. I do know he offers the best actual meat shwarma I've had in the Twin Cities and the best lamb kebabs I've had in the Twin Cities.
He seemed like a really nice guy. If you go in and talk with him and appreciate what's on offer, maybe he could make you some pide.
Also, there's a place in St. Paul, on Snelling north of University on the west side, the Black Sea, that claims to offer Turkish food. I haven't been there in a very long time, but they might have the food you're seeking.
Since I am not from Turkey, I cannot tell you if it is real Turkish or Americanized Turkish. However, the food is fabulous IMO regardless what it is classified as. Every time I went there there seems to be a lot of people talking to the chef in a language I assume is Turkish and that is always a good sign--seeing natives eating in their own style of restaurant.
Actually, I have to make one small correction. There is a dish that they have called the iskender special. That, I guess, is technically turkish. They take the schwarma meat, put it over rice, then pour a tomato sauce over it--and it's accompanied by yogurt. But outside of that, it's standard mideast fare.
I've never heard of a turkish restaurant here in the TC. The only one I found was this one:
And this one's kurdish:
But I've never been to either, so I can't comment.
I'm not Turkish, but I did eat a whole lot of Turkish food while visiting Turkey, and Filfilah serves pretty typical Turkish "fast food". The only thing at Filfilah that I never saw in a Turkish restaurant is falafel. The schwarma here is called doner in Turkish, and one of the very few places you can get actual meat-roasted-on-a-spit in your gyro/doner sandwich in the Twin Cities, as opposed to the standard commercial pressed meat product. A couple of menu items use non-Turkish names, probably for ease of use for the general public, but are still very much Turkish food. A couple of items - adana and iskender kebab - are dishes you can't find elsewhere in the city, as far as I know.
There are a lot of similar dishes in the cuisines of the middle east and central Asia, with loads of regional specialties. We certainly have standard repertoire of Americanized favorites at many of our local ME restaurants. Just because Filfilah serves some of these dishes doesn't mean it isn't a Turkish restaurant. And it isn't serving fine Ottoman cuisine or Anatolian specialties, just really typical, everyday food.
Yes, there is pide. Not pide/pita bread, but pide, a Turkish pizza-like dish. I have not tried it myself, but you should and report back.
Every time I run into a Turk in town, I mention Filfilah and get very favorable review, for what its worth.
Here's the menu: http://filfilah.webs.com/menu.htm
Went back this weekend and had baklava and kunefe for dessert. Love both. Kunefe was really good. Both were made by the chef. They also make their own bread, which is delicious as well. If you go ask them for the homemade bread. They also have regular pita bread but it's made somewhere else.
Ordered the lamb kebab and it was tender and juicy.
I just went to Filfillah for lunch. It was GREAT! I tried lamb kebab and they were amazing. Great flavor. Very succulent/juicy. I also tried the shwarma. It's top notch. I will definitely be going back. I think they should serve this food out of a truck and at the state fair and maybe closer to the river in NE. It's a bit of a haul up to Columbia Heights.