6 at 77th St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
62nd St. to 86th St., FDR Dr. to Fifth Ave.
With flashier Turkish restaurants along upper Second Avenue, you might easily pass by Uskudar's humble picture window and diner-style neon sign in search of a more exotic looking place to eat. But folks in the know pack the narrow, hummus-hued spot nearly every night of the week. Blue glass "evil eyes" and black-and-white photos of Istanbul's towers, palaces, and mosques watch over neighborhood regulars as they dig into appetizers such as borek, tiny phyllo triangles filled with spinach, dill, and a salty, dry feta; imam bayildi, baby eggplant baked until falling apart and stuffed with a savory tomato, pine nut, sweet onion and parsley melange; and mucver, shredded zucchini patties fried to a crisp brown, and delicious when dipped into sour yogurt. While chicken and fish entrees are offered, lamb—butchered on the premises—is the specialty. Among the dozen variations, toothsome shish kebabs, mint-spiked ground-lamb dolmasi, fork-tender braised shanks, and homey lamburger-like kofte kebabs are all superb. Turkish wines, beer, sodas and juices (sour cherry and apricot) are all worth trying, as is ayran, a traditional salty yogurt drink. And don’t pass on dessert. The atmosphere may be modest but the almond-stuffed dried apricots topped with nutmeg-infused whipped cream are the food of sultans.Recommended Dishes
Imam bayildi, $9.95; borek, $7.95; lamb shish kebab, $19.95