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“Great Food & Service” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Istanbul Cafe

Istanbul Cafe
628 Vine St, 45202, Cincinnati, OH
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Ranked #57 of 1,771 Restaurants in Cincinnati
Price range: $12 - $22
Cuisines: Mediterranean, Turkish, Greek, Middle Eastern
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Lunch, Reservations
Description: Istanbul Cafe will bring the authentic flavors and smells of kitchens right out of Istanbul, and straight to your table. Located in downtown Cincinnati Istanbul Cafe offers a unique dinning experience in a city spotted with chain and corporate restaurants. This family owned and operated restaurant will please foodies and eclectic dinners alike. The atmoshere here is simple and to the point all about the food, Turkish rugs, photo's, and mirrors dot the dinning room and turquoise walls.
Cincinnati Ohio
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Great Food & Service”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2013

The food at Istanbul Café is really great – well prepared and presented with good service to boot. I was there for lunch and intend to return for dinner with a bottle of wine.

The Iskender Kebab is a special of the house, and it was fantastic. The sauce was delicious and the homemade yogurt was the perfect accent. The chicken adana was fantastic, not greasy, nor were the veggies on the side. There was a table of 4 next to us, all eating to their hearts’ delight and raving about the food as well – they were there when we arrived and still eating when we left.

I have eaten quite a bit of Turkish food – and love it, especially when it’s well prepared. What may be my only criticism is that I wanted a more extensive menu, we went hoping for a braised lamb shank and some manti (really yummy little lamb raviolis) and they didn’t offer either. BUT we were satisfied with what we had. I would love to see what their chefs do with a roasted chicken, too.

As for the ambience, it was a bit sterile, but nicely appointed inside. I was expecting it to be a bit cozier – it had more of a strip-mall feel than a Turkish restaurant.

AND trip advisor has this listed as Greek, not Turkish. They do have kebabs (better than any in town, seriously – way better than the well known Kebab place I WON’T MENTION, but his name starts with an “A” and ends with a “Y”) and it is “Mediterranean”, but you’re not going to find a the gyro, moussaka, or any of the giant overstuffed sandwiches or wings that are unfortunately associated with greek food in Cincinnati and beyond.

Go, the food is good – right now they BYOB, so be prepared! YUM

  • Visited January 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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47 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Cincinnati, Ohio
Top Contributor
50 reviews 50 reviews
47 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Great food”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2012

I recently went for dinner with my husband to the Istanbul Cafe.
They only had one server, who was very friendly and made us feel like we were in a homey ambiance.
We started with a small Appetizer sampler for 2 (Humus, Eggplant Puree, Tabouli and Ezme with warm pita bread) everything was very good.
For Entree we shared a plate for 2 with 3 different Kebabs (chicken and lamb, I don't remember the names) with basmati rice and sauteed vegetables. It was very good!
For dessert we shared the Kunefe, it was amazing!
Overall the food was very good and the ambiance was really nice. Will certainly be back soon!

  • Visited November 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ocean Springs
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
41 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
“Great Turkish Food”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 28, 2012

Something I learned in Turkey, you can tell how good an eatery is by the taste of their tea (Cay) ... the cay was outstanding! The staff, waiter and chef did a fantastic job of making our dining experience a great one. They are very quick to reply to emails and made me want to eat there. The food was extraordinary, as good as any Turkish Restaurant I have ever been to, Stateside and in Turkey. Granted, there are some things that just aren't the same (fresh bread from the local bakery is not the same as it is in Turkey).

We had the Adana kebab and İskender kebab and both were to die for! The lentil soup was good on a cold evening.

We topped off our experience with baklava, unfortunately, they make it American style, using walnuts instead of pistachios, but it was delicious nonetheless. Highly recommend this place.

Visited November 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Great Food - clean atmosphere”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 19, 2012

We took 2 of our out-of-town friends here before a CSO concert at the Music Hall. We tried the appetizer sampler ($17) and the Shish-K-Bob Sampler (serves four for $55). Both were very, very delicious and there was plenty of food for all four of us. The food came out on time and we were able to bring a bottle of wine in to share (the waiter even opened it for us and provided glasses!). The location is great - right downtown on Vine - near 6th street (parking lot on corner). The interior is clean and the service was very good. I highly recommend this restaurant!

  • Visited November 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
4 reviews 4 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Service is Critical”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 8, 2012

Went here on a Saturday night with reservations at 6:30 for a 8:00 show at the Aronoff ( literally aound the corner 3 min walk) My husband and I were delighted to find a restaraunt downtown that allows you to BYOB as there are very few in this city at all. The waiter was great, and said it would be no problem to get to an 8:00 show given how much time we had allowed ourselves, so we happily ordered an appetizer immediately and ordered dinner by 6:50. The restaraunt was empty when we arrived and there were 4 parties who came in after us. At 7:15 when all the other tables had been served, our server came to our table to give us more pita and said dinner would be out shortly. At 7:25 he brought more Babaganoush and again said any minute. We sent it back saying we just wanted dinner. At 7:45 dinner arrived - 55 min after ordering I had a Falafel plate and my husband a kebob Nothing complicated or time consuming. We asked if they would please take something off the bill as we were not able to eat the dinner in 10 minutes. Their response? give us a plate of baklava so now we were going to need a third box if we wanted it, put the boxes in our car and get to the show before the doors closed. It was unexcusable and unbelievable that there was no sign of a manager or anyone to be the least bit accomodating. Yes the food was good the few bites I choked down in 5 minutes but the experience could not have been worse. There are many other Middle Eastern restaraunts downtown, and if this one wants to stay in business they seriously need to figure out customer service.

  • Visited November 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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