Vegetarians and vegans: Look away now. I love my meat and thankfully, am never too far away from reasonably priced options in the Capital. The latest London meat trend is for ‘gourmet’ burgers, ribs, and fried chicken, and rumour has it that the humble kebab may be the next meat dish to get a rebranding.
Meanwhile, dozens of Turkish grills across London dish out quality meats to thousands of customers every day (and night), especially along Green Lanes. So, with the help of a few Turkish friends and north London locals, I have explored the Ocakbasi scene for you…
Antepliler, 46 Grand Parade, Green Lanes, N4 1AG
This Turkish restaurant has two locations – one on the northern part of Green Lanes, and a more central one on Upper Street in Islington. Both feature a menu with interesting variations on Turkish staples from the Silk Road town of Antep. A round of hot and cold mezze is probably the best way to run the gamut of flavours before attacking a main, if you can still handle it (I recommend the Fistikli Kebab, with an unusual pistachio crust). The Green Lanes branch is the ‘original’ and still the best for me, while Islington is equally good value with a wider menu and classier decor.
Best Mangal, 10 Arcola Street E8 2DJ
This ocakbasi in E8 has been around for more than 20 years and it’s a steady favourite for locals. But, with the increasing popularity of Dalston as a place for a night out, I strongly suggest that everyone passing through enjoys the good, cheap and fresh grills on offer. Best Mangal also does takeaway, so that you don’t have to stop the club-hopping. And, even if the night doesn’t go well, at least you’ll have scored on the meat front…
This busy diner on Green Lanes looks the same as countless nearby ocakbasi; a huge meat counter at the entrance, a very busy line of expert cooks at the grill, a wood-fired oven for flatbreads and lahmacuns, and a buzzing atmosphere. So what makes it special? As the owner proudly told me, Gokyuzu has ‘been here for 14 years without a single slow night’. They have great baked goods, the service is run like a machine, and portions defy the concept of ‘huge’. £28 will get you the biggest meat platter for two that you’ll ever see, including good lamb ribs, chicken wings, kofta, kebab shaves and sides of tangy grilled peppers and rice. Highly recommended, just don’t go with your best shirt on.
Kebab Centre, 324 Green Lanes, N4 1BX
Just when you thought you couldn’t go any cheaper, I bring you the humble kebab. Right outside Manor House station, at the eastern corner of Finsbury Park, this very basic, but clean, kebab spot is a neighbourhood staple and (apparently) a pilgrimage destination for kebab aficionados. Kebabs are ‘made in the house’ (whatever that means) and taste quite different from the kebab as-you-know-it. They also have a Shoreditch location on Kingsland Road, recognisable by the five stars sign, and are on JustEat.co.uk, too. Perfect for lazy meaty takeaway nights.