Turkish cuisine is undoubtedly one of my favorites and living in London we have no shortage of Turkish establishments. Unfortunately, more often than not these tend to be doner shops and kebab joints that of course do not present the intricate culinary extraordinaire that is the Turkish fare in the most flattering light. Fear not however, as London has it’s own Mecca of delectable Turkish food that foodie pilgrims from across our great city pay homage to. I am of course talking about Green Lanes in Harringay which is home to Turkish supermarkets, restaurants, bakeries, barbers, dress boutiques and the odd dodgy looking ‘disco’. If you are new to this culinary heaven that is Green Lanes fear not and allow me to be your foodie Yoda with my definitive Turkish food guide to Green Lanes.
For the Crowd Pleaser: Gokyuzu
Mention Green Lanes to anyone and they will point you to Gokyuzu – the mother of restaurants in the area and at times even holder of the London number 1 restaurant title on Trip Advisor. (Also featured in my Top 10 London Cheap Eats post). Come on a Friday evening or weekend and you will likely see the queue stretching outside first. This is a very busy restaurant, with large groups of people and waiters rushing around delivering complimentary Turkish bread, Cacik (yoghurt and cucumber dip) and the most satisfying, colorful salad to diners (yes, all complimentary!). The usual grilled and stew options are available in plentiful supply however most opt for the mix grilled family platters without even so much as consulting the menu. On any visit here you are likely to see couples and groups working away at this – it consists of bulgar, rice, lamb cubes, chicken pieces, chicken wings, ribs, shawarma shavings and kebab and comes in at extremely good value. I always take out of towners here and no one has ever left with anything other than glowing reviews and a great London dining experience.
For the quite(er) meal and shorter queues: Hala
Next door to the Green Lanes star of Gozyuku is the smaller and less busy Hala restaurant. I discovered Hala thanks to a day of extreme hunger and an excessively long queue at it’s next door neighbor which I did not have the patience to bear and I’m very glad that I did. Independently serving up great food with a different slant on the complimentary salad (comes with white cheese, so good) and an additional complimentary tomato/chilli based dip (also much appreciated), Hala has its own loyal following of fans. Mixed grill platters are also the big star here and if arrive early enough you might be about to score yourself some much coveted Gozleme (Turkish pancake/flat bread like concoction filled with either cheese/spinach/potato/meat). When I fancy a good meal in quieter surrounds (but by no means quiet) without an excessively long queue than Hala is my go to option.
For the Love of Lahmachun – Antepliler
Turkish cuisine is so extensive and varied however I am a simple lady with simple tastes – and two of my favorite things in the world are Turkish lentil soup and lahmachun (thin Turkish like ‘pizza’ topped with spicy minced meat and parsley). There are times when nothing can fulfill my food needs other than a hot bowl of said soup and two or three lahmachuns with lemon squeezed all over, topped with salad and folded over *heaven* and for those such times I will trek from the ends of West London traversing through the traffic and one way systems of Central London to get to the heights of North London for my fix, and there is no place that does it better than Antepliler lahmachun. The Antepliler empire own a few establishments on green lanes but the lahmachun excelling establishment can be clearly made out by the large wood oven clearly visible in the window being laden with tens of lahmachuns at a time. The usual Turkish fare is also on offer here, however I prefer my grilled meats from Gozyuku and Hala. When it comes to the soup, lahmachun and pide – Antepliler is on the money.
For Dessert – Anteplilier Knafeh
It pains me to share this one, as every time I find this beautiful little authentic knafeh café busier I become increasingly angry and irrational, however I cannot dare to speak of Green Lanes and omit the beacon of happiness that is Antepliler Knafeh. Another establishment in the Antepeliler empire and a few steps away from its lahmachun offering sibling, this establishment only has two items on the menu – knafeh and knafeh topped with cream. For those not familiar with knafeh it is a loved dessert from the Levant to central Asia consisting of pastry and cheese that is soaked in sweet syrup and topped with pistachios. It sounds odd to the initiated but it is just one of those things you have to try to understand – and subsequently fall in love at first bite. Black Turkish tea is served complimentary with your knafeh and ordering one pastry between two is enough for most. With the miniature wooden chairs and tables doused in rich Ottoman style textiles and exposed brick walls you can’t help but feel transported to a back street joint in Istanbul’s bazaar – no trip to Green Lanes is complete without a trip here, even if you feel you’re about to burst from the food!
For the Morning After; Breakfast – Zer
If all that succulent grilled meat, pillowy bread and delicious lahmachun has left you wanting, no, needing, more then make your way back the next day for a hearty Turkish breakfast buffet. Yes that’s right – Turkish – breakfast –buffet (surely you’re as excited reading that as I am writing it). With options ranging from Turkish breads and preserves to various cheeses, olives, Turkish sausages and eggs with quintessential Turkish black tea – can there be any better way to start the day? If you hang about for a bit after it’ll be lunch time before you know it and you can start the whole tour all over again…
Dietary: Halal (HMC)
Overground: Harringay Green Lanes (5 mins walk)
Rail: Harringay rail station (8 mins walk – trains from Moorgate/Finsbury Park)
Tube: Manor House (13 min walk – Piccadilly Line)