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To some people, Turkish food means hummus, eggplant and kebabs. Istanbul demonstrates just how diverse a Mediterranean menu can be. The place looks uninspired—it’s a simple, sparsely decorated room. But the kitchen finds stunning flavor in simple preparations. A feast of spreads features a terrific whipped eggplant dip, pungent with garlic. The kebabs—dull and dry at other eateries—are compellingly seasoned with fiery chilies, and the gyro features real (not processed) shavings of lamb. Baklava, available to go by the pound, is as good as any you’ll find at a respectable Astoria bakery.
Venue name: Istanbul
Address: 95-36 Queens Blvd

Cross street: between 62nd Dr and 63rd Rd
Opening hours: Daily 11am–11pm
Transport: Subway: G, R, V to 63rd Dr–Rego Park
Price: Average main course: $12. AmEx, MC, V
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