Most cultures have their version of a barbeque and Turkey of course is no different. In Turkey we call it mangal, but a very specific type of charcoal barbeque called ocakbasi is very popular. Ocakbasi translates to ‘fireside’ or ‘stand by the grill’ and ocakbasi restaurants typically have one or more large hooded charcoal barbeques in the center of the restaurant. Patrons typically sit around the grill and watch the grill master prepare the meals. It’s fun to have a little interaction with the cooking process.
While there are two locations of this restaurant, the karakoy location of Ali Ocakbasi is the one I would recommend due to its outstanding view of the Golden Horn. It can be a little tricky to find so don’t hesitate to ask your hotel or any knowledgeable Turk for directions. It is well worth the search.
Typically a good sign of quality is the number of locals dining. If that is the indicator we use here then Adana Ocakbasi is pretty darn good. This little restaurant has been serving satisfied diners since 1978 and continues to go strong. There is no menu but it’s really easy just to point and choose so don’t let the lack of menu intimidate you.
There is a lot of hype surrounding Zubeyir but for a very good reason. This outstanding ocakbasi in Taksim has earned its solid reviews. It is a little bit on the higher end of payment scale but the quality of barbeque as well as the standard of service provided make it reasonable. There is generally a line so if possible reservations are suggested, only if you would rather not take the chance of waiting.
There are several reasons to check out this restaurant. It is located in the conservative district of Fatih where a different way of life can be respectfully observed. Due to its location and out of respect, it is advisable to wear suitable attire, covered shoulders and legs especially for the ladies. The other reason as any Anthony Bourdain fan may know, Sur Ocakbasi is the restaurant he visited on No Reservations to sample the famed buryan kebab. While Sur is the most famous of these restaurants all in the area are truly excellent.
If you happen to find yourself in Bakirkoy, Felek Mangalbasi is a hit among locals. This restaurant is definitely more on the high end, it’s a good place to get a little bit dressed up for a night out. Their menu goes beyond the standard beef and chicken and delves into the offal territory as well as offers lamb.