Meat, Meat … and oh yes Meat!
First of all it is important to know that I was not only looking for kebab in Istanbul but more the way Turkish people love all grilled meats so I pondered and researched to find the best of the best in Istanbul.
The differences in grilling meat are so various that people write books about it.
So lets start somewhere: The classic Döner (loaf of bread with meat cut of from a horizontally rotating skewer either electric heat or coal) then we change it up with a Dürüm (meat on a skewer grilled over coals and then wrapped in lavash – the oriental version of a Tortilla). From there we go to the Cag (a big lamb skewer rotating vertically over wood where only the crispy pieces are served) which is my absolute favorite way of eating grilled meat in Turkey. Then we have the classic kebab (highest quality steak meat grilled on a skewer usually served with rice) which is served around the world in Turkish restaurants. Just so you know: There are a bunch more but I like to keep it short and sweet.
So now we have the basics lets introduce the contenders. To be honest I am far away from knowing all the best places but these are the ones I loved in random order.
Şehzade Cağ Kebabı (Ankara Cad. HocaPaşa Sok. No: 4 Sirkeci, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul)
This is the place that serves the deliciousness that is Erzurum cağ kebabı, lamp marinated for hours and grilled over wood fire. This dish is for purists. I would recommend a piece of lavash and that’s it. No salad, tomatoes or anything. Trust me – the flavor is intense.
Ciya (Caferağa Mahallesi, Güneşli Bahçe Sk., 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul)
A famous kebab maker and additionally a really good restaurant serving all kinds of grilled meat and Turkish delights. Definitely one of the best when is comes to the classic Döner. Served with rice, potatoes and tomatoes and a fluffy loaf of bread (Pide)
Dürümzade (Katun, Kamer Hatun Caddesi 26/A, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul)
Made famous by Anthony Bourdain I checked this tiny “restaurant” out and it is delicious in every way. Not really a place to rest but the scent of grilled skewers (kebab) wrapped in a lavash is still mouth-watering. Also who doesn’t love a place that serves delicious meats 24/7! The after party snack is marked!
Beyti (Şenlikköy Mahallesi, Orman Sk. No:8, 34153 Bakırköy/İstanbul)
The name is actually a dish – grilled lamb wrapped in lavash and served with tomato sauce – a tasty endeavour and additionally the inventor Beyti Güler is still alive and selling his invention in the restaurant which is also named after him. For foodies this is celebrity status and a “must-eat”. Opened since 1945!
There are so many more places to check out from Karadeniz Pide (gargantuan Döner) to chill out at Ali Haydar but this is a story for another time.