Seamless Roulette Leads Me To Awesome Turkish Food at Turco
It’s easy to ignore Turco Mediterranean Grill (9th Ave between 43rd and 44th St). From the outside it looks like your run-of-the-mill falafel and kebab joint, which are fairly well represented throughout Hells Kitchen. Lord knows I’ve walked by this place plenty of times without giving it a thought. But as it happened, these guys popped into my radar after a game of seamless web roulette during a late night at the office. Expecting a run of the mill plate of street meat piled onto a stale pita and limp iceberg lettuce, I was pleased to get a plate of ultra moist meat, slightly crisped on the edges, crunchy shredded vegetables, tender grilled peppers, and a fresh, pillowy sesame pita (I would later learn the pita is baked in-house). Despite their out-of-bounds location, I felt that a plate of food that good deserved a visit, and indeed it was worth it.
In contrast to the simple exterior, there’s a lot going on inside Turco. Near the front window, massive vertical spits of lamb and chicken döner kebab sing their siren song to passerby’s, and nearby, there’s a grill to cook kofte (ground lamb) and chicken skewers. Böreği and falafel are deep fried to order, and at the front of the counter, there’s an impressive display of meze (appetizers), salads, dips, and pastries. Turco even serves lahmacun, an awesome Turkish take on pizza, usually topped with crumbled lamb (unfortunately the lahmacun wasn’t available on my visit). In the back, there’s a small area for seating, and a fridge full of sodas and ayran, a cold yogurt based beverage.
If they’re out of the lahmacun, I’ll happily push the sigari böreği ($1 each), a snack of feta cheese and dill rolled with phyllo dough (resembling a cigar) and deep fried. It emerges from the fryer shatteringly crisp on the outside, while the cheese is perfectly salty with just a bit of tang. These are 2-3 bite flavor bombs that are everything that your run of the mill deep fried cheese stick could and should be.
Admittedly, one doesn’t win friends with salad, but with mercury wreaking havoc on one’s appetite, the salads at Turco are worth a try. It doesn’t get any more refreshing than the coban ($3.95 for a small portion), a cooling salad of chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onions, and parsley, bound by lemon juice and plenty of olive oil. In addition to its restorative merits, the salads are a ridiculous value, as they throw in a warm pita with your order, nearly a meal in itself.
This brings us back to the sole reason why I came to Turco in the first place – the döner kebabs. During both of my meals at Turco, I loved the thoroughly moist (although very lamby) lamb kebab, which they lavish onto an irresistibly fresh and ridiculously large pita ($6.95) or over rice as a platter ($9.95). Also on goes plenty of crunchy fresh shredded lettuce and cabbage and chunks of tomato. A drizzle of cacik (similar to tzatziki) and hot sauce finishes this monster sandwich.
As the saying goes, it would be unfair to judge a book by its cover, and shame on us, Turco certainly offers much more than we ever expected. Whether it’s the interesting appetizers, refreshing salads, or awesome döner kebabs, if we’re talking turkey here, Turco is worth a trip out of bounds.
The + (What somebody who likes this would say)
- Cheap, authentic, tasty Turkish food
- Home made pita and meze? Yes please!
- If you’re really that lazy, they’re on Seamless as well
- Lamb pizza. ‘Nuff said.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- 9th Avenue is not a Midtown Lunch
- I prefer my gyro meat from a street cart
- What if they’re out of lahmacun again next time? Don’t play with my emotions man!
Turco Mediterranean Grill , 604 9th Ave (between 44th St & 43rd St) ; 212-510-8666