For diners who love sharing, Turkish food is a dream. Think arrays of dips mopped up with pillowy bread, mezze boards and platters of meat and veggies. If you’re more of an order-your-own-and-hands-off kind of eater, that’s fine too: choose from pide (Turkish pizza) kebabs, borek (filled pastries) and much more. So where to find the best in London? The capital is home to numerous great Turkish restaurants, including a cluster in Haringay’s Green Lanes (nicknamed Little Turkey by locals), but also in areas like Notting Hill and Soho. Read on for our pick, from cheep and cheerful old stalwarts to trendy recent openings.
Best Turkish Restaurants in London
Tucked away on Goldborne Road, The Counter serves contemporary Turkish cuisine with flair, inspired by the Anatolia region. Head chef – and, interestingly, former windsurfing champion – Kemal Demirasal heads up the kitchen, giving fun twists to classic Turkish dishes. An open-fire charcoal grill sits at the heart of the restaurant, set up in the middle of a counter (hence the name), sizzling up punchy sharing plates. Unexpected pairings are seen throughout the menu: a signature dish, for instance, is the chocolate babaganoush aubergine, a starter topped with white chocolate, dukkah and dill oil. For mains, the Turkish koftas are a highlight, alongside the kibbeh, served with tahini cream and mint (with a veggie alternative). Cocktails are equally interesting: the ‘satır kıyma’ is made with a base of fat-washed rye whisky, while the ‘şalgam’ is a take on a margarita featuring red pepper, lime and salgam juice (fermented black carrot and turnip).
108 Golborne Rd, London W10 5PS, thecounterlondon.com
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Of all the Turkish restaurants on Haringay’s Green Lanes, Gökyüzü is perhaps the most popular – and for good reason. It’s owned by the Yavuz family, who moved from a small village in Kahrama to the UK in the 90s and decided to set up an authentic Turkish eatery. Naturally, everything is designed for sharing: think platters piled high with lamb and chicken shish, rice and bulgur; and mezze spreads of hummus, falafels and fried calamari. There’s a convivial and friendly atmosphere, with welcoming service and a home-from-home feel.
26-28 Grand Parade, Green Lanes, Harringay Ladder, London N4 1LG, gokyuzurestaurant.co.uk
If you’re looking for great Turkish food in Lewisham, Meze Mangal is your best bet – particularly since the refurb in 2013, which gave it a smart new look. The charcoal ocakbasi (a traditional Turkish grill) sits at the centre, making way for sizzling dishes of spicy lamb kebabs, chicken skewers, grilled sea bass and marinated swordfish. Pides (Turkish-style pizzas) are also a highlight here, topped with the likes of minced lamb, Turkish sausages and peppers – and all for a very decent price.
245 Lewisham Way, London SE4 1XF, mezemangalrestaurant.co.uk
Chef Civan Er trained at Leith’s before opening his first restaurant, Yeni Lokanta in Istanbul, in 2013. It quickly rose to critical acclaim, featuring in the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and in 2019 he decided to open a second branch, this one in London’s Soho. The pressure was on – but sure enough it was another success. In classic Turkish style, daily changing, seasonal menus focus on sharing plates and grill dishes. Begin with starters such as bulgur fritters with date molasses, house cured mackerel with citrus salad, and prawn and vine leaves tempura, ahead of meat, fish and vegetable dishes cooked over an open fire. Highlights include octopus with walnuts and romano pepper, and smoked aubergine with yoghurt. The wine list, meanwhile, features a variety of red and whites, many from Turkey.
55 Beak St, Carnaby, London W1F 9SH, yeni.london
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When it opened in Dalston back in the ‘90s, Mangal 2 quickly garnered cult status – apparently artists Gilbert and George would visit every week for dinner. The restaurant was helmed by Turkish chef Ali Dirik, who began by opening what’s now known as Mangal 1 before launching a larger restaurant: the endlessly popular Mangal 2. In 2016, Ali handed the baton down to his son Ferhat, and later Ferhat’s brother Sertaç came on board to help with a revamp, creating a more refined dining experience with modern dishes. Visit nowadays and you’ll be treated to creative and flavoursome plates: aubergine söğürme with almonds, raw beef with ezme salad, and grilled mackerel with bulgur, pistachios and white peaches. The glow-up has certainly paid off: Mangal 2 was recently named 35th best restaurant in the UK by the National Restaurant Awards.
4 Stoke Newington Rd, London N16 7XN, mangal2.com
Another Green Lanes hotspot is Antepellier, which comprises a main restaurant, a bakery, a more casual doner kebab shop and a cafe specialising in kunefe, a Turkish dessert. The dining room is always busy thanks to the large portions and low prices – and, of course, tasty food. Expect all the Turkish classics: hot mezze of kofte, fafafels, hummus, sucuk (chargrilled spicy sausage), alongside pide and lahmacun (flatbread topped with minced lamb and vegetables). You can order unlimited baskets of freshly baked Turkish bread – but be wary of going overboard, as you must leave space for the showstopping kunefe.
45-46 Grand Parade, Green Lanes, Harringay Ladder, London N4 1AG, antepliler.com
Featured image: The Counter