Places to try: Mangal Ocakbasi
Let the enormous mangal grill by the entrance guide your menu choice at Dalston’s Turkish classic: home of sublime, succulent kebabs.
Some things have changed round here since Mangal Ocakbasi opened over 20 years ago. A Time Out review from the early 1990s framed on the wall shows how prices have tripled: two could feast for a tenner back then. But other things have stayed the same. The restaurant still excels at grilled meat; the enormous mangal by the entrance, which pumps smoke halfway down Arcola Street, has never failed us yet. Don’t bother with the starters – we weren’t moved by bog-standard tarama, houmous and patlıcan salata ungenerously smeared on to small plates. But the cop sis and the tavuk beyti were everything we had hoped for: the first, the most rich and succulent grilled lamb we’ve had anywhere; and the tavuk a delicately garlicky, melty kebab of minced chicken. This is a tatty place that relies upon its grill chefs juggling skewers and flipping meat for character, and service could be friendlier. But the kebabs here still sing, and that’s all that really matters.