Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cafe Istanbul Goes OTP for Second Location, near KSU

Cafe Istanbul, a longstanding favorite for Mediterranean cuisine and hookah, is finally expanding to a second location. Cafe Istanbul's new location will be located not far from Kennesaw State University off Wade Green Road. Located at 4200 Wade Green Road in a Big Lots anchored shopping center, the new location is scheduled to open in the coming weeks.

I recently dined at the Lawrenceville Highway location late night on a Saturday and encountered a nearly hour long wait! When we were finally seated, I ordered what was labeled as falafel on the menu, but it appeared and tasted very different when it came, similar to a doughy hush puppy. Evidently the food, or at least falafel, is not what keeps people coming back. Instead, I'm guessing it's the hookah and the belly dancers.

While the hookah and atmosphere here are spot on, I prefer the falafel at Al's Cafe Agora in Buckhead, Cafe Posh on Roswell Road in the Fountain Oaks shopping center and Pita Palace near Toco Hills. Falafel aside, the large campus and nearby off-campus student population should insure the new Cafe Istanbul location's success.

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tamara said...

ugh, i'm with you on the food here. no bueno. speaking of cafe agora, though, do you have any issue with the whackadoodle pricing there? ("hmmmm... ten dollars for you!," etc.) just curious as you obvs know your way around atl resto scene.

Atlantan99 said...

Hey Tamara,

Funny you should ask as I used to wonder myself at Agora. Went there what seemed like twice a week over the summer. Prices change lunch to dinner as they add a salad, so the same falafel / gyro etc. goes from $7.50 to over $11! To that end, you get to know Al and all of a sudden a meze plate may appear or baklava at the end of the meal and so on. It's almost worth it to watch his antics. The food is flavorful and fresh and overall a good deal. Best in town, $5 for a falafel at Pita Palace near Toco :)

Thanks for the comment and for reading the blog!

Darin said...

I second that Pita Palace recommendation -- amazing falafel. Turkish, Lebanese and similar foods are my favorite. My one gripe is the bellydancing thing. I reeeaally don't enjoy having my meal interrupted by deafening music and someone jiggling her skin in my face. Any recommendations for non-bellydancing Turkish/Lebenese places for dinner are appreciated.

Atlantan99 said...

Hey Darin,

Aside from Pita Palace, Cafe Posh and Al's Cafe Agora, there are a few other good spots. Kyma, though Greek by description features a number of similar dishes. Also, Hovan in both Lenox and Perimeter is good,they make the falafel in front of you at both, not some pre-made nastiness like you'll find at new chains Pita's Republic or Pita Pit. Jerusalem Bakery in Alpharetta is also damn good and totally chill. Lastly, Mediterranean Grill with locations near Emory, in midtown and in east Cobb is a great lunch or dinner spot for falafel, schwarma, gyro etc.

Hope this helps.

tamara said...

Darin, maybe try Mezze too, on La Vista. Pretty tasty and I don't think they have belly dancers. (I hate that too!)

Atlantan99 said...

Hey Darin and Tamara,

Just in case you Google it, Mezza is spelled with an "a" rather than "e" on the end.

Thanks for the rec though, that is a great neighborhood spot!

mindspringyahoo said...

I've only been here a couple of times. 6 or 7 years ago I had the 'lamb pizza' and it was actually pretty darn good. Last time we got some typical middle eastern fare and it was pretty average. I concur that they don't take great pride in the food here.

Another mediterranean type place to try is Cafe Sababa, on North Shallowford about a mile OTP. We got the falafel and shawarma and thought both were good. Their specialty is making food, not providing hookahs and bellydancing.

Katie B. Smith said...

That is not a great location that they have picked. That area has gotten really run down in the last 5 or so years. And I don't see the demographic of that area, even with the college, being big patrons of that style of food.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Darin - the buffet at Sultan's on Roswell Road is good.

Robbie Honerkamp said...

The food at Cafe Istanbul has gone downhill in the last few years. Their iskender kebap used to be fantastic, it's now a little less than eh. In the same period, they've made a lot of physical changes to the restaurant as well - I wonder if there was a change in ownership or management as well?

I always went there for the food. For me, the dancing was a needless distraction - the dancers always turned the music up way too loud for such a small place.