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Carrot haydari from Hazel
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Where to Find Terrific Turkish Food in D.C.

13 destinations for meze, kebabs, and kanafeh

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Carrot haydari from Hazel
| Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The banner of Turkish food encompasses one of the world’s most diverse cuisines. The reach of the Ottoman empire and the historic trade routes spanning from Europe to Asia play a huge role in the food culture of the Mediterranean country, and so do its own varied landscapes.

In D.C. you can expect to find plenty of meze: dips and salads heavy on eggplant and red bell peppers. Lahmacun, or Turkish flatbread pizza, is also common. So are kofte (grilled meatballs) and rich desserts like kanafeh, a syrupy and cheesy pastry.

This map serves as a guide for where to find Turkish favorites, from traditional dishes to modern spins.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Anatolian Bistro Turkish Restaurant

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This family-run establishment makes an otherwise ordinary mall worth visiting. Try the begendili kebab — chunks of lamb with tomato sauce over eggplant puree and rice — or the adana kebab (minced lamb). Desserts include a decadent kunefe and slices of baked pumpkin served with walnuts and whipped cream.

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• Adana kebab •

A post shared by Anatolian Bistro (@anatolianbistro) on

Kazan Restaurant

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This McLean restaurant has been serving customers since 1980, excelling at traditional Turkish dishes served in generous portions. Start with the imam bayildi — stuffed baby eggplant served cold — or the meze platter ($17.95 for two). The spit-roasted doner kebab is a must-try special, but all of the lamb entrees are popular. Chef-owner Zeynel Uzun is typically in the dining room dishing out a bit of Turkish hospitality. 

Meze Restaurant

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In the heart of Adams Morgan, this popular Turkish restaurant is known for small plates, which makes it especially good for trying a variety of dishes. Some popular items here are the mucver (zucchini pancakes), sigara boregi (cigar-shaped fried pastries stuffed with cheese), and any of the grilled meats. Meze has a happy hour with long list of $5 dishes and half-priced mojitos. Brunch is a safe bet, too.

When Hazel launched its new menu under chef Robert Curtis towards the end of 2018, the menu took a turn from its Asian inspired dishes to vegetable focused items typically found a Turkish meyhane, or neighborhood tavern. Puffy Turkish bread serves as the vehicle for the dips and spreads that are followed by more modern interpretations. Some dishes, such as the carrot haydari and muhammara dips, the mucver pancakes, and bulgur kofte are obviously Turkish. Others, such as the beef tartare that comes with a Turkish coffee vinaigrette, reflect Curtis’s inventions.

Carrot haydari from Hazel.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Cafe Divan

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One of the longer running Turkish restaurants in D.C., Cafe Divan stands out for the variety of pides, or Turkish flatbreads. Try the spicy beef kebab or the divan mix, a kebab platter that has kofte, chicken, lamb shish kebabs, lamb chops, and doner kebab.

Cafe Divan
Cafe Divan [official]

Agora (Multiple locations)

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Agora isn’t exclusively Turkish — it also has Lebanese and Greek dishes — but there’s a large selection of dishes from Turkey. Making a meal of small plates is a smart move. Go for the Brussels sprouts with urfa peppers, kibbeh, and fried baby eggplant topped with beef.  

Leziz Cafe & Restaurant

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This Dupont circle restaurant recently replaced the longtime standby Ezme. Early crowd favorites include the lamb kebab with plums and sage andk the hunkar begendi, a roasted eggplant and lamb dish enjoyed by Ottoman sultans. This place also has a small grocery section full of Turkish goods.

Brunch spread at Leziz cafe
Leziz Cafe/Official Photo

Located right off DuPont Circle, Ankara has an extensive menu featuring both classical and contemporary Turkish dishes. The “Ankara experience” offers a three-course option with a drink ($44). Some favorites here are the zucchini stuffed with ground beef, lamb chops, and an unusual sweet-and-savory mahi mahi baklava. 

Ottoman Taverna

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Recognized by the Michelin Bib Gourmand guide, this expansive, eye-catching restaurant delivers more than just looks. Try the grilled halloumi that’s is drizzled with a honey-sesame glaze or for one of the flatbreads, the lamb chops, or the moussaka. This is a good spot for a celebration or a special night out. 

Ottoman Taverna
Ottoman Taverna
R. Lopez

Zaytinya DC restaurant

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Chef José Andrés’s Mediterranean mainstay in Penn Quarter offers a variety of dishes with a heavy focus on Turkish-style small plates. Spreads are strong, particularly the hummus with lamb and the red pepper-based muhammara. There are a number of vegetarian plates — don’t miss the zucchini pancakes. Kebabs and seafood are safe bets, too.

Yayla Bistro

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Open for lunch and dinner, Yayla offers a nice variety of Turkish meze. One of the more uncommon dishes found here are the manti — Turkish-style ravioli with ground lamb and beef topped with garlic yogurt and tomato sauce. The mixed grill platter is an excellent way to taste a sampling of kebabs and bulgur pilaf. The patio is an ideal place to enjoy a glass of wine.

Istanbul Grill

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Every meal at Istanbul Grill, one of the newer restaurants on the list, should begin with a cold meze sampler. The iskender kebab — lamb and veal doner served over flatbread with tomato sauce and yogurt — is especially nice here. Lunch is a great value with wraps hovering around $12.

Atilla's Restaurant

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This place is part restaurant, part take-out counter, and part market. Stop here for a doner kebab or kofte sandwich, and pick up a tub of creamy hummus or lentil soup to go. There are no frills here, but the food is decent and the prices are reasonable. The weekend Iskender kebab special is especially popular.

Sigara Boregi at Atilla’s
Atilla’s/Official Photo

Anatolian Bistro Turkish Restaurant

This family-run establishment makes an otherwise ordinary mall worth visiting. Try the begendili kebab — chunks of lamb with tomato sauce over eggplant puree and rice — or the adana kebab (minced lamb). Desserts include a decadent kunefe and slices of baked pumpkin served with walnuts and whipped cream.

View this post on Instagram

• Adana kebab •

A post shared by Anatolian Bistro (@anatolianbistro) on

Kazan Restaurant

This McLean restaurant has been serving customers since 1980, excelling at traditional Turkish dishes served in generous portions. Start with the imam bayildi — stuffed baby eggplant served cold — or the meze platter ($17.95 for two). The spit-roasted doner kebab is a must-try special, but all of the lamb entrees are popular. Chef-owner Zeynel Uzun is typically in the dining room dishing out a bit of Turkish hospitality. 

Meze Restaurant

In the heart of Adams Morgan, this popular Turkish restaurant is known for small plates, which makes it especially good for trying a variety of dishes. Some popular items here are the mucver (zucchini pancakes), sigara boregi (cigar-shaped fried pastries stuffed with cheese), and any of the grilled meats. Meze has a happy hour with long list of $5 dishes and half-priced mojitos. Brunch is a safe bet, too.

Hazel

Carrot haydari from Hazel.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

When Hazel launched its new menu under chef Robert Curtis towards the end of 2018, the menu took a turn from its Asian inspired dishes to vegetable focused items typically found a Turkish meyhane, or neighborhood tavern. Puffy Turkish bread serves as the vehicle for the dips and spreads that are followed by more modern interpretations. Some dishes, such as the carrot haydari and muhammara dips, the mucver pancakes, and bulgur kofte are obviously Turkish. Others, such as the beef tartare that comes with a Turkish coffee vinaigrette, reflect Curtis’s inventions.

Carrot haydari from Hazel.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

Cafe Divan

Cafe Divan
Cafe Divan [official]

One of the longer running Turkish restaurants in D.C., Cafe Divan stands out for the variety of pides, or Turkish flatbreads. Try the spicy beef kebab or the divan mix, a kebab platter that has kofte, chicken, lamb shish kebabs, lamb chops, and doner kebab.

Cafe Divan
Cafe Divan [official]

Agora (Multiple locations)

Agora isn’t exclusively Turkish — it also has Lebanese and Greek dishes — but there’s a large selection of dishes from Turkey. Making a meal of small plates is a smart move. Go for the Brussels sprouts with urfa peppers, kibbeh, and fried baby eggplant topped with beef.  

Leziz Cafe & Restaurant

Brunch spread at Leziz cafe
Leziz Cafe/Official Photo

This Dupont circle restaurant recently replaced the longtime standby Ezme. Early crowd favorites include the lamb kebab with plums and sage andk the hunkar begendi, a roasted eggplant and lamb dish enjoyed by Ottoman sultans. This place also has a small grocery section full of Turkish goods.

Brunch spread at Leziz cafe
Leziz Cafe/Official Photo

Ankara

Located right off DuPont Circle, Ankara has an extensive menu featuring both classical and contemporary Turkish dishes. The “Ankara experience” offers a three-course option with a drink ($44). Some favorites here are the zucchini stuffed with ground beef, lamb chops, and an unusual sweet-and-savory mahi mahi baklava. 

Ottoman Taverna

Ottoman Taverna
Ottoman Taverna
R. Lopez

Recognized by the Michelin Bib Gourmand guide, this expansive, eye-catching restaurant delivers more than just looks. Try the grilled halloumi that’s is drizzled with a honey-sesame glaze or for one of the flatbreads, the lamb chops, or the moussaka. This is a good spot for a celebration or a special night out. 

Ottoman Taverna
Ottoman Taverna
R. Lopez

Zaytinya DC restaurant

Chef José Andrés’s Mediterranean mainstay in Penn Quarter offers a variety of dishes with a heavy focus on Turkish-style small plates. Spreads are strong, particularly the hummus with lamb and the red pepper-based muhammara. There are a number of vegetarian plates — don’t miss the zucchini pancakes. Kebabs and seafood are safe bets, too.

Yayla Bistro

Open for lunch and dinner, Yayla offers a nice variety of Turkish meze. One of the more uncommon dishes found here are the manti — Turkish-style ravioli with ground lamb and beef topped with garlic yogurt and tomato sauce. The mixed grill platter is an excellent way to taste a sampling of kebabs and bulgur pilaf. The patio is an ideal place to enjoy a glass of wine.

Istanbul Grill

Every meal at Istanbul Grill, one of the newer restaurants on the list, should begin with a cold meze sampler. The iskender kebab — lamb and veal doner served over flatbread with tomato sauce and yogurt — is especially nice here. Lunch is a great value with wraps hovering around $12.

Atilla's Restaurant

Sigara Boregi at Atilla’s
Atilla’s/Official Photo

This place is part restaurant, part take-out counter, and part market. Stop here for a doner kebab or kofte sandwich, and pick up a tub of creamy hummus or lentil soup to go. There are no frills here, but the food is decent and the prices are reasonable. The weekend Iskender kebab special is especially popular.

Sigara Boregi at Atilla’s
Atilla’s/Official Photo

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