Indistinct sounds and clattering come from the kitchen, melodic tunes of Mediterranean music play and all types of elaborate Turkish artwork are displayed on the wall. Besides setting the perfect Turkish atmosphere, Istanbul Grill and Deli, located at 5613 Morningside Dr., offers authentic Turkish fare, from main course entrÈes to wines and desserts.
Passing through the European style patio, where tables are set, one is greeted by fresh aromas of Turkish cuisine cascading through the entire room. An array of artwork hangs on the wall, from portraits and traditional headpieces, to a baglama, a Turkish stringed instrument.
In the open kitchen, pops and sizzles of the grill give customers a taste of what to expect – even turing into a foreign land right here in the heart of Rice Village.
In the early 1990s, restaurant co-owner Zubeyir Dundar came to the United States to study, but he had the idea of starting a restaurant with cuisine specifically from Istanbul.
"This Turkish cuisine was actually originated by that land, Asia Minor," Dundar said.
He always felt the restaurant would be a success.
"The origin was from that standing point so I knew it would work as long as we did it right," he said.
Dundar decided to send for his brother Meust Dundar, who had prior knowledge of the restaurant business. Both brothers knew that if they could mimic the food of Istanbul, then their restaurant would flourish in the city of Houston. In 1998, they joined forces and started the restaurant.
Some of their entrÈes include typical Turkish dishes such as the D√∂ner kebab, which are marinated slices of lamb, and the ali nazik which is charbroiled, peeled and mashed eggplant served with garlic yogurt sauce and topped with stir fried, seasoned lamb meat. All main entrÈes are served in a bed of rice and a house salad.
Instead of dining on typical American foods, offer your taste buds a cultural surprise by choosing either the chicken or lamb, where both meats are tenderized and marinated in a secret blend of Turkish seasoning.
The high elevation of Turkey gives the country’s wine a particular taste. For example, the red wine Bogazkere gives your mouth a taste of different dry fruits. Also try the white Narince wine, which also captures Turkey’s dry climate in its bouquet. And as for desserts, you can never go wrong with baklava, a buttery, flaky pastry glazed with honey and walnuts.
Istanbul Grill and Deli is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Prices range from $2.99 for appetizers to $13.99 for large entrÈe dishes. Turkish beverages such as tea and soda are also served.