After returning from Istanbul; Ankara; and Konya, I can say that I have had better food, but I have never had better in the United States. I have many friends from Turkey who are in school in the United States. All whom I have asked recommended Cafe Istanbul. Truly, if you can weezel a meal from a resident Turk, do it; if not, Cafe Istanbul is like a little taste of Turkey here in the States.
The Chai (really hot tea, not some syrup concoction from a hippy coffee shop) is the basic unit of friendship over a meal or just loafing on some shady street corner. Please take my advice and get it. Have two or three glasses and enjoy the time with your dinner companion. Drink it slowly at first or you'll burn your mouth.
Much Turkish food is familiar fare from the region. Syrian or Lebanese or even Greek cuisine has many similar dishes. Cafe Istanbul is accurate to the slight differences I remember from Turkey.
The music is often sacred music from Rumi (Mevlana) or strings. It adds to the restaurant.
Favorite Dish: Kuzu (lamb) served in any fashion is good. Doner may be familiar to many Americans as Gyro, but this is way better than Kronos Central fare (Greek restaurant supply). The Turkish Doner is lamb cooked on a vertical spindle. I like it crispy, but it is all good. (It is street food in Turkey). Cafe Istanbul prepares it with Durum and Yogurt. Yogurt may be new to Americans in this context, but it really makes the meal.
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