Category Archives: Turkish

Dögarz Döners

Stumbling about Midtown one day I ran across this newish Turkish döner shoppe wedged between other life maintenance venues near the Pierce Elevated. What initially caught my eye was the German umlat over the “o” in the name. A German-named venue serving Turkish items in Houston, Texas.

Odd enough for investigation.

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Atmosphere
Dögarz is a small space, I doubt 20 people could wedge in at once. I’ve been three times and the sit down crowd is consistently limited to a few suits on phone conferences and a few headphone-clad college students working on their laptops. Most patrons order takeaway. The neon apple-green walls and jet-black furniture give it a calming, modern feel. The open kitchen allows the smells of rotisserie grilled meats to permeate the interior, which frankly, smells so good it makes me want to order more than I need. But I don’t.

Food
If you’re from some other parts of the Middle East, you might better know these as shawarma instead of doner. At Dogarz the menu is simple, doners: lamb and beef combo, chicken or fish. You can have those in a freshly baked pita or wrapped in lettuce. There are a few middle eastern pastries. Drinks are in DD-1the refrigerator off to the side. With the doner, you can get ‘spicy sauce’ and feta as options. I recommend both. The spicy sauce tastes of harissa and on the heat-meter weighs in less than Tabasco.

You’ll notice some ingredients in the doner seem out of place, most notable purple cabbage and corn. Me thinks they are mostly there for colour, definitely  a win for presentation. However, they are in small amounts and I found the crunch of those items a good texture play with the soft pita and toothy, juicy grilled meats. I’ve had all three doner varieties and all were excellent.

Service
Counter order, table delivery. Quick and accurate. For people ordering takeaway, 10 minutes max.

Price
Lamb and beef doner with feta and spicy sauce – $10

I like Dögarz for its balance of quality ingredients, appealing presentation and quick delivery time. The other upside is that its a short walk from the Mc Gowen subway stop. For those compulsively tracking steps – 3000 round trip.

Lunch: February 2015

Dögarz Döners | 2101 Smith | HTX 77002

 

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Istanbul Grill

IMG_1137There are dueling Turkish restaurants in the Rice Village area of Houston, literally a block apart.  Whats on the plate is similar in both however they differ in atmosphere. Istanbul Grill is the more casual, Pasha the more dressed up. For a work outing today we went with the more casual.

Our outing today reminded me that Turkey is on my to-do list but it keeps getting rescheduled. So many places, so little vacation.

Atmosphere

Casual, stripped-down fun. There’s about equal indoor and covered outdoor seating; if the weather is nice and particularly if its at night, its a more lively experience to be outside. The steady stream of Rice college students seeking escape from their studies at any number of bars along this stretch of Rice Village creates a youthful energy and occasional eye candy.

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Food

I’ve been to Istanbul Grill loads of times and had almost everything on the menu. The Iskender Kebab is my hands-down favourite here but today with a group of 20 we had a fixed menu and it was not listed. I had the Lamb Kofte, which was good; highly seasoned ground lamb, shaped into a long oval, grilled then served with a rice / chickpea concoction and  salad.

For the group we also had a table full of their bread, which is delicious; crispy on the out, fluffy and chewable on the in. To pair, a sampler platter of their apps, my favourite being hummus. Maybe its just the local Turkish way, but the hummus both here and Pasha has a very strong sesame flavor, so heavy on the tahini. I like it but it is distinctly different from the Lebanese/Israeli variety which tends to be heavy on the chickpea and garlic.

IMG_1140I simply cannot visit a Turkish restaurant without having Turkish coffee. They know how to do this well. Thick, rich grounds-in variety, which has a distinct blackberry undercurrent and comes pre-sweetened. At Istanbul Grill you can order it half-sweet or quarter-sweet, that is, if you don’t want your coffee to taste like a dessert.

Service

Service here is always good but at lunch and dinner rush hours, particularly on a Friday, it can be spotty due to the small kitchen and often limited number of wait staff. Twice, when it has taken too long for something, they just waived some item off of my bill; always a nod to customer loyalty. It happened again today with the Turkish Coffee, they just comped it and thanked us for choosing them for our group meeting.

Price

For lunch $8-15, for dinner $10-20; dinner portions are notably larger. This is on par or lower than neighboring Pasha. I think at Pasha you are paying for a little more for the upscale atmosphere.

In a city with surprisingly few Turkish venues, you can always depend on Istanbul Grill to be a good, and occasionally great experience, particularly if the weather is nice and you snag a table outside on a Friday or Saturday evening.

Th-up

Istanbul Grill | 5613 Morningside | Houston TX 77005