IN THE KITCHEN Chef-owners Ender Gokay; his wife, Funda; and their daughter Miray opened Mediterranean Turkish Food in 2008, a year after they moved to the United States from Istanbul. Framingham “is such a diverse community, with many different ethnicities open to new tastes. We thought it would be a good idea to introduce Turkish cuisine here,” Gokay said.
THE LOCALE The restaurant is tucked into a tiny building on Concord Street in north Framingham’s Saxonville neighborhood. Somehow, the restaurant squeezes five tables into the small space, which is primarily wallpapered with alluring photos of featured menu items. Orders are placed at the counter and served at the table; takeout is also a fine option.
ON THE MENU “Whenever we meet somebody who has visited Turkey, the first thing they talk about is how there is a great variety of mouth-watering dishes,” Gokay said. Most of the restaurant’s diners have some familiarity with Turkish cuisine, he said, and the family happily doles out dining recommendations in Istanbul. “Our goal is to carry that legacy. We want our diners to feel as if they have visited Turkey after tasting our food,” he said.
The restaurant features not only Turkish dishes, but other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean favorites as well. The care that goes into even the most basic items is obvious. A refrigerated case in the dining room offers a range of free sauces to accent the meals, including a house-made hot sauce containing 15 types of peppers, Gokay said.
Vegetarians are well served, starting with falafel — ground chickpeas and spices pressed into semicircles, then deep fried and pocketed in pita bread along with smooth hummus, tahini sauce, lettuce and tomatoes ($7.50), presented with the accoutrements on the side ($8.50), or served as a full dinner platter ($13.50).
Nohutlu güveç ($10) is a spicy chickpea stew enriched with onions, tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic, and spices; it can be served vegetarian or with lamb, beef, or chicken. The restaurant is halal, meaning that all meat is slaughtered according to dietary laws followed by observant Muslims.
Adana kebab (plate $11.50, wrap $8.75) — ground beef marinated with bell peppers and paprika, threaded onto a skewer and cooked over the grill — is surprisingly spicy, smoky, and satisfying. Accompaniments include bulgur rice, tinged red with sumac and dotted with chickpeas; slivered red onions tossed with parsley, red peppers and sumac; lavash bread; and cacik, a mild yogurt dip made of cucumber, garlic, and mint.
Shawarma — marinated spiced meat grilled until meltingly tender — is sliced thin and curled within pita bread along with lettuce, tomato, and a healthy drizzle of tahini (chicken $7.50, beef $8.75). Kibbeh blends bulgur, beef, walnuts, raisins, and aromatic herbs into a conical shape; these deep-fried delicacies are $3.75 each, or $9.50 for two with hummus, salad, and cacik. There is also a range of savory pies ($6 to $7) bursting with ground beef, potatoes, spinach, and feta cheese. Mezze-style side dishes include havuc kavurmasi ($6.25), which mingles shredded carrots with yogurt and garlic, and baba ganoush ($6.25), char-grilled eggplant whipped with garlic, lemon juice, and sesame paste.
And then, there is kofte, a spiced ground beef that’s a “must-have” in Turkish cuisine, according to Gokay. The Istanbul kofte dinner ($14.50) comes with several sides, including mujver, fried broccoli-cheese bites. Kofte is “so delicious that even the scent travels for miles while it’s being cooked, attracting many customers,” Gokay said. If you cannot travel all the way to Istanbul, this dish — and really, the restaurant as a whole — might just be the next best thing.
Mediterranean Turkish Food is at 1609 Concord St. in Framingham; 508-202-4688, www.mediterraneanturkishfood.com.
Rachel Lebeaux can be reached at email@example.com.