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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Casual restaurant

Tue–Sun 11:00am–10:00pm

Features Outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, BYO
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Not accepted


Rice Area
5613 Morningside Dr.
Houston, TX
(713) 526-2800
Istanbul Grill
Turkish pizza and beer—Houston: what a country!

Houston is blessed with several Turkish restaurants, all with pretty comparable kitchens. Istanbul Grill’s the only one with such an extensive selection of Turkish wines and beers (the virtue lies more in the novelty than in the enjoyability, although some of these beers are decent); and the décor, while simple, is pleasant enough. The whites and deep blues evoke a Mediterranean scene, and the nazar (the lapis-colored evil eye) is ever-present, doing its job of warding off malicious spirits. Other than that, a big brick oven and a vertical turning spit roast are the most eye-catching things in the room.

The big deal here is döner kebab—strongly seasoned beef and lamb turned on a self-basting spit over an open fire, and then sliced to order. We also love smoky charbroiled adana kebab, made with chopped lamb and seasoned with Aleppo red pepper. Where Istanbul stands above the others is in its freshly made breads and excellent, doughy Turkish pizza. Almost everything is served with pilaf rice and cabbage, and the cold salads and appetizers here are refreshing and delicious. It all manages to leave you feeling full, but quite healthy—hey, a cuisine this old surely knows what it’s doing.

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