Zübeyir Ocakbaşı, located just off İstiklal Caddesi in the heart of Beyoğlu, started life in 2006 and is a local favorite, serving traditional ocakbaşı (a long hearth covered by a copper hood) fare, specializing in grilled meats. With two large hearths where the meats are freshly prepared and cooked before your eyes, the restaurant’s three floors are comfortably engulfed in avid conversation coming from tables of animated groups, while dishes of fresh meze, as well as meats just recently removed from large skewers, travel to tabletops.
Underneath a layer of thin lavaş bread, tender bits of ciğer (liver) or lamb arrive with the subtle taste of the fire that cooked them. The meats go hand in hand, like destined lovers, with meze such as the Gavurdağ salatası (salad with finely diced onion and tomato), Van cacığı (spread made of strained yogurt and cucumbers), and Balkabaklı ezme (spread made of squash), to name a few. Returning to the kebabs, there are different types of shish including Adana, Urfa, and Beyti (Adana kebab being Urfa’s spicy equivalent, and Beyti with tomato and yogurt sauce.)
Beer, rakı, and other types of alcohol are available and since the restaurant gets very crowded on weekends, a visit during the week is recommended or make sure to call ahead to reserve your spot. To really experience the magic behind this traditional Turkish grill house, ask to sit near the grill where you can watch the experts at work as the skewers of meat sizzle to perfection over the heated coals.