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Francela: Fast and Fresh Turkish

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It used to be that Fairway was the predictable choice from unfussy ready-made dinner in Yorkville, but the vibrantly seasoned take away at nearby Francela threatens to upgrade boring grilled chicken and blah pasta with their far more interesting take on freshly prepared Turkish foods.

The restaurant is laid out deli style, serving primarily a lunch and take away crowd, although there is counter seating for in-house dining. Three deli counters serve up a variety of items. The cold section features an abundance of vegetarian salads and mezze ranging from a spicy vegetable studded bulgur salad to garlicky artichoke hearts stuffed with fava beans. A hot counter features a rotating selection of pies, braises and baked dishes made fresh daily. Recent visits have yielded spinach and potato pie one day, cheese borek the next, as well as the famed imam bayildi which would make anyone swoon, imam or not. An entree station sits between the two hot and cold counters. Prepared foods like stuffed cabbage with lamb, moussaka and stuffed mussels are reliably delicious, but diners can also choose from lamb, sausage, fish or octopus to have their dinner freshly grilled. The 10 minutes it takes to grill and dress Francela's octopus salad makes this definitively the best fast food item in all Manhattan.

A refrigerator case offers those in a hurry the option of quickly grabbing a container of hummus, homemade yogurt or one of the day's specials. Sliced bastirma and soujuk are also available to accompany the fresh pide made throughout the day. Feel inspired to try your hand in the kitchen? A Kalustyan's-like array of spices are available, along with some of the restaurant's homemade sauces and pastes to give you a head start on your dinner. That is if you can resist ordering that octopus salad instead.

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