The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Turks might be the glorious doner kebab. But although it’s become indispensable to London life, rotating meat isn’t by any means the major Turkish contribution to the city. Turkey is the only country to rest on two continents, a bridge between Asia and Europe. Turks arrived in England as early as the 1600s thanks to the good relations between Elizabeth I and the Ottoman Empire. Later, Turkish coffee houses became social centres of London.
These days, after waves of immigration, a quarter of a million Turks call London home, mainly populating north London and often running small businesses: from restaurants and lifesaving 24-hour offies to tailors. The annual Turkish Film Festival and Arsenal’s Mesut Özil, a third-gen Turk, are just two examples of how the country’s rich heritage is enjoyed today by Londoners. Esra Kanbur
Did you know? The famous Turkish novelist and activist Elif Şafak currently lives in London. Her novels have been translated into more than 20 languages.
Esra’s favourite Turkish places in London
Everyone knows that the best place for Turkish food is Green Lanes. Turkish-Cypriot market and bakery Yasar Halim has been operating since 1981.
For dessert head to nearby Antepliler Künefe, a cosy and authentic place where cheese pastries are cooked in front of you. Don’t forget to ask for pistachios and cream.
At Babaji in Soho, coffee is served the proper way: prepared on a stovetop, served with Turkish delight on a wooden tray.
Let off some steam in the Turkish hammam at Pasha Spa in Camberwell, where you’ll be welcomed like a sultan as you sweat out all that stress.
Enjoy the rooftop this summer at Tarshish on Wood Green High Road, as you indulge in a chicken shish dinner.
The best of Turkish London, according to you
‘Kazan Kitchen in Victoria is my favourite. Hats off to Mr Ozgur, the manager.’ Melike B via Facebook
‘The Best Turkish Kebab on Stoke Newington Road makes doner that can rival anything I’ve ever had it Turkey.’ Burçe B via Facebook