Monday, September 6, 2021

Cafe Istanbul

-Grubbing in Chicago  
A Regional Turkish Treat in Wicker Park 

Over the last few years Chicago has seen it's Turkish food scene greatly improve. A 2019 article in the Reader written by Mike Sula describes this boom. One of the spots featured is Cafe Istanbul which sits in a small strip mall in Wicker Park. It's corner location along Division means they have a nice outdoor space as well as a decent amount of indoor seating. From what I could tell on my visits it's a popular spot with anybody who has a Turkish background in not just Chicago but the entire Midwest. 

Locals Favorite in Wicker Park

As Mike Sula details in the linked article this place is ran by a man from Turkey who was talked out of retirement to come here. With him he brought one of Turkey's most iconic spits of meat (Turkey is arguably the spit grilled meat capital of the world). Cag Kebab is a must get menu item from here. So much so that I cant bring myself to try anything else bc I have to have this if I'm eating at Cafe Istanbul. The Cağ kebabı (Cag Kebab) here is arguably Chicago’s best prep of spit grilled meat. It’s a regional specialty consisting of a horizontally grilled cone of lamb meat. Cooked over live fire and sliced “on the skewer” which is inserted into the meat and then sliced off resulting in an extra long piece of spit grilled fatty lamb. An absolute stunner and something that’s pretty rare outside Istanbul and Erzurum, the latter being a city in Eastern Turkey where Cag Kebab is said to have originated. Turkey is near the top of my bucketlist largely due to dishes like this. Having it in Chicago is a treat. 

Cağ kebabı (Cag Kebab) at Cafe Istanbul 

Cafe Istanbul
2014 W Division St
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 661-9487

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