Ottoman Eats

Cheap, delicious…and kinda good for you

Like those forced by geography to dine from convenience stores and fast-food joints, the lone-Jackson-clutching diner is subject to a lot of mediocre fried food—which is why Turkish Cuisine of Westchester is such a breath of fresh air.

Taking over the nondescript space from Texas Chili, this welcoming downtown White Plains nook is slinging crisp, tasty salads, delicious vegetable purées, and lean(ish) grilled meats all day long to a growing audience of eat in/take out fans. The menu here is not terribly inventive—after all, the flavors of yogurt, tahini, lemon, and olive oil are shared by many national cuisines—but it’s perfect for today’s diners. It’s cheap, and it works for dieters, carb-watchers, veg heads, and health nuts. For sane people (at Turkish Cuisine, anyway), it’s also delicious.

Starters are almost uniformly well executed, and we could easily make a meal out of one of Turkish Cuisine’s leguminous salads. Our favorite, piyaz, is a mound of tender white beans, bright with pepper and lemon, with crisp parsley fronds, crunchy red onion curls, and the luxurious shine of olive oil ($7.95). Also a good beginning, though large enough for four, is the mixed cold appetizer plate that comes with a stack of fragrant, warm pita triangles ($9.95). The quartet features a meltingly rich, buttery-textured hummus topped with smoked paprika and a splash of olive oil, sweet lebni (strained yogurt) with crunchy walnuts; a sadly forgettable soslu (like Turkish caponata—eggplant in tomato sauce); and some of the best baba ghanoush we’ve ever dipped. Here, the tarry, tobacco-laden notes are teased out by long roasting, and the syrupy result is whipped with tahini, garlic, and olive oil until the mixture has the mouth-filling texture of a smoky buttercream. Moderate eaters might opt for the baba ghanoush alone, in a still-generous single portion for $4.95.

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We confess to never having eaten a truly delicious falafel. Yet the tender, un-greasy falafel sandwich ($6.95) here is a revelation, creamy with hummus and tahini, bright with parsley and mint, and lightly crisped in fresh-tasting oil; we’ll definitely return for another bite.

Carnivorous entrées span the familiar range of tasty shawarma, döner kebabs, and iskender—marinated-and-speared meats that diners pass in a refrigerator case next to the counter. All the $11.95-to-$13.95 mains are served in massive, meat-centric portions, over mounds of pita triangles to catch juices, along with rather dull sides of rice discs and salad.

Nothing makes a better ending than a wedge of classic baklava—which is baked daily, and perfumes the shop with a heavenly scent of butter, nuts, and sugar. For the full experience, wash it all down with a thimble-full of Turkish coffee, brewed super-strong with sugar and powdered coffee.

Turkish Cuisine Westchester

116 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains
(914) 683-6111
Free local delivery is an option
Hours: Mon to Wed 11 am–9 pm, Thurs to Sat 11:30 am–3 am, Sun 11:30 am–9 pm.
Appetizers: $4.95-$5.95; entrées: $11.95-$13.95; desserts: $3.95.

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