Sunday, April 29, 2012

Best Place to Eat Meze

Meze are found throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean, albeit under different names or forms. The fashion is believed to have spread from the Sultan’s court in Istanbul at the height of the Ottoman empire.
Sofyalı 9 inexpensive
Sofyalı Sokak 9, Tünel; +90 212 245 0362
In an area famous for its meyhanes (taverns), this is one of Istanbul’s best, serving superb meze and traditional Anatolian cooking in attractive surroundings and a warm, vibrant, and buzzing atmosphere. Try the specialty, arnavut ciğeri (fried lamb liver).

Asitane expensive
Kariye Camii Sokak 6, Edirnekapı;
Just south of the Chora Church, upmarket Asitane has established a specialty in and a reputation for fine Ottoman cuisine. Its dedicated chefs source original recipes from the kitchens of the old Ottoman palaces and employ original methods of preparation and cooking for all their dishes, including their sumptuous meze.
Mikla expensive
Marmara Pera Hotel, Meşrutiyet Caddesi 15, Tepebaşı;
Considered the city’s top table, Mikla is overseen by local “celebrity chef” Mehmet Gürs, who creates stunning modern Mediterranean dishes with Turkish ingredients, cooking methods, and flavors. Spectacular views, impeccable service, and sumptuous decor complement the food.
Syrian cuisine is one of the oldest, richest, and most sophisticated in the world, and the range of meze found in its restaurants reflects this, combining a wide range of raw ingredients with centuries-old culinary know-how.
Bab Al-Hara inexpensive
Sharia Al-Qaimariyya, Damascus; +963 11 541 8644
Set deep in the old city close to the Umayyad Mosque, Al-Hara boasts a fervent local following for its fresh, flavorsome, and authentic cooking, at excellent prices, served in an old courtyard house. The meze and grills are a particular specialty.
Bazaar Al-Charq moderate
Between Sharia Al-Mutanabi and Sharia Hammam Al-Tat, Aleppo; +963 21 224 9120
The cellar-like Charq is cozy, atmospheric, and welcoming. The kitchen offers an impressive variety of Damascene and Aleppine specialties, including a wide range of meze; the heavenly, smoky baba ghanoush (eggplant purée) is a must-try. There’s usually live traditional music in the evening.
Al-Khawali expensive
Maazanet al-Shahim, Damascus; +963 11 222 5808
Considered one of Syria’s best restaurants and counting its president among its customers, Al-Khawali is a great choice for sampling meze Syrian-style. Set in a restored Damascene courtyard house dating to 1368, it combines beautiful surroundings with first-class cooking and service.
Sissi House expensive
Just off Saahat Al-Hattab, Jdeideh, Aleppo;
Considered a cut above in decor, ambience, and cooking, Sissi House attracts a well-heeled and glamorous local following. It specializes in Aleppine cuisine, beautifully prepared, cooked, and served, including a selection of over 50 meze. Classical Arabic music is often played live.
For many people, Lebanese cuisine forms their main experience of meze, aided undoubtedly by the large Lebanese communities and their eateries found in many Western cities. In Lebanon itself, eating out is an important part of social interaction.
Abdel Wahab moderate
Rue Abdel Wahab El-Inglizi, Achrafiye, Beirut; +961 1 200 552
With tables spread around the pretty garden and high-ceilinged rooms of an old Ottoman villa, the Abdel Wahab is an atmospheric and romantic place for dinner à deux. The lavish buffets are famous and include a wide range of meze, among them several varieties of heavenly hummus.
La Tabkha moderate
Rue Gouraud, Gemmayzeh, Beirut; +961 1 579 000
Modern, minimalist, and contemporary, La Tabkha serves a terrific array of modern Lebanese dishes with a touch of French influence, including an excellent lunch-time meze buffet that changes daily.
Shahrazad moderate
6th Floor, Centre Commercial de Yaghi & Simbole, off Rue Abdel Halim Hajjar, Baalbek; +961 8 371 851
The location may lack style or atmosphere, but it’s the spectacular views over Baalbek’s Roman ruins that draw a loyal following, along with the simple but hearty and well-prepared home cooking, including a good selection of delicious, freshly prepared meze.
At one time part and parcel of the Ottoman empire and today part of the Middle East, Egypt has long been influenced by both regions’ cooking. It has also developed its own distinct versions of meze, using local ingredients and cooking traditions.
Samakmak moderate
42 Qar Ras At Tin, Alexandria; +20 3 481 1560
Established by a former belly dancer, the Samakmak is a cozy, intimate, and atmospheric restaurant. It is best known for its excellent, imaginatively prepared fish and seafood dishes, which include an unusual and very good meze selection.
Abou El Sid expensive
157 Sharia 26 July, Zamalek, Cairo; +20 2 2735 9640
Styled like an Orientalist boudoir-restaurant-bar, the Abou El Sid is one of Cairo’s eating hot spots. Diners recline on cushions pasha-style around low brass tables while tucking into well-prepared traditional Egyptian cooking, including mouthwatering meze.
Reservations are essential.
Though unquestionably influenced by Turkey and Greece as well as the Middle East, Cyprus nonetheless proudly possesses its own culinary traditions. The Cypriots love and value their food and keep up a vigorous tradition of meze.
Fetta’s inexpensive
Ioanni Agroti 33, Pafos; +357 2693 7822
One of Cyprus’s top traditional restaurants, Fetta’s bases its reputation on enduring culinary values: quality ingredients, locally sourced, and simple but sound home cooking passed down the generations. The meze platter of grilled meats is a specialty. Zanettos Taverna inexpensive
Trikoupi 65, Lefkosia; +357 2276 5501
One of the oldest surviving tavernas in the Old City, Zanettos is a bit of an institution and retains a loyal local following. Though located in a rather lugubrious part of town, it’s worth the journey: the meze are superb and the atmosphere convivial and fun.
On the Menu in Turkey
Acı domates ezmesi : Spicy tomato dip.
Ançüz : Pickled anchovies.
Arnavut ciğeri :  Diced, fried lamb liver with raw onion, sumac, chili pepper, and chopped parsley.
Barbunya pilaki :  Salad of red beans.
Beyaz peynir : White sheep or goat cheese.
Cacık Yogurt with grated cucumber and mint, served either as a kind of soup or as a dip.
Çerkez tavuğu : Literally, “Circassian chicken” – chicken, walnuts, and bread flavored with garlic.
Deniz börülcesi : Samphire dressed with olive oil, garlic, and lemon and traditionally served with fish and seaood meze.
Enginar : Boiled artichoke.
Ezme salatası : Tomato and pepper dip.
Fasulye piyazı : Salad of navy beans.
Fava or fava salatası : A puréed fava bean dip.
Haydari : Yogurt  dip made with garlic and mint.
Kabak çiçeği dolması :  Stuffed zucchini flowers.
Kısır Salad : made of spiced bulgur wheat.
Lakerda : Tuna fish, sliced and salted.
Mercimek köftesi : Spicy balls made of red lentils and bulgur wheat traditionally served at weddings and family feasts.
Midye dolması : Stuffed mussels.
Patates köftesi : Cheese and potato croquettes.
Patlıcan biber tava : Fried eggplant and sweet green peppers with tomato sauce and chili pepper.
Patlıcan ezmesi : Roast eggplant with yogurt.
Patlıcan kızartması or salatası : Fried eggplant and tomato, served warm or as a salad.
Sarımsaklı havuç : Grated carrot in a garlicky yogurt.
Semizotu salatasi : Salad of purslane in a yogurt and garlic dressing.
Sigara böreği : Cigar-shaped pastries deep-fried and stuffed with cheese.
Yaprak dolması : Vine leaves stuffed with pine nuts, rice, and herbs.

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