Hollywood's oldest Turkish restaurant, Istanbul, has been in this same dinky location for 19 years, a small room that opens to ocean breezes and classic views of kids flying kites on the beach. And they haven't changed a thing from the plastic chairs to a menu of kebabs and Turkish pizza (except maybe the big flat-screen showing reruns of Turkish soccer matches). Istanbul introduced Hollywood's broadwalkers to foods that must have seemed exotic at the time: tripe soup and pan-fried calves liver cubes, yogurt drinks and borek. But these days Istanbul has competition not only down the beach, with Armenian and Greek restaurants, but also from excellent Turkish places like A La Turca in downtown Hollywood*. On a recent visit both the smudgy old menu and the kitchen staff seemed tired, and the mediocre food ran the gamut from watery yogurt and soggy pizza to skewered beef and sliced lamb that were clearly the cheapest cuts money could buy. Even a glass of red wine (they no longer have Turkish bottles)was undrinkable. Two decades is a long time to keep slogging away at it; sometimes you need more than great views to stay inspired.
707 North Broadwalk, Hollywood
*For really superior Middle Eastern delights at low prices, try Al-Salam in Plantation. Look for a New Times review in the next couple of weeks.
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