While you're trekking along the ancient walls in Istanbul, you are bound to get hungry.
I know we did when we explored the ruins of Yedikule Hisarı and followed the Byzantine-era stone walls. (Please see previous post about Istanbul's ancient walls here.)
By following 10 Yıl Caddesi behind the Yedikule fortress, about 1.5 kilometers away, you will find some of the best köfte in the Zeytinburnu neighborhood of Istanbul. There's not much along the main road, which is why this köftecisi is such a gem of a place.
Like many of Istanbul's best places to eat, Merkez Efendi Köftecisi is tucked down a side street. You probably wouldn't know this small restaurant was there unless someone recommended it or you happened to stumble upon it. We enjoyed lunch here thanks to the historical tour we did with Friends of American Research Institute Turkey (FARIT).
We started out with a traditional piyaz, a Turkish bean salad, with onions, parsley, tomatoes, and dressed with olive oil and vinegar. A bowl of spicy sauce was served on the table so I mixed a healthy dollop into my plate of piyaz.
The perfect dish to accompany piyaz is either köfte or köfte.
These köfte (grilled Turkish meatballs) are quite comparable to the ones I've enjoyed at the 81-year-old Tarihi Köftecisi Selim Usta in Sultanahmet. Juicy, slightly fatty and simply delicious!
|More spicy paste to accompany the köfte.|
|I loved how they served the fresh, homemade ayran in this fancy cup fit for a sultan.|
In Istanbul, you can will see köfte served just about everywhere. But how often can you eat truly good köfte in the proximity of nearly 2,000 years of history?
Telsiz Mah. 69 / 1 Sokak, Zeytinburnu, Istanbul
From the Yedikule Hisarı, follow 10 Yıl Caddesi for about 1 kilometer, then turn onto Belgradkapı Cad. You will see Merkez Efendi Köftecisi located on the corner.