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Nazif's Is Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Nazif’s Turkish Grill & Deli swings into action with olive oil, tomatoes, yogurt, sheep’s milk cheese, tea and more from its delicious Mediterranean crossroads cuisine.

"This food is so simple," he said, stealing bits of pideli köfte off my plate, "that it could go very wrong. But this is stunning." He and I both noticed the aggressive chargrilled sear on the köfte, beefy meatballs diced roughly, tossed on top of thick squares of bazlama bread and topped with a barely sweet tomato sauce that smacked of smooth, buttery marinara. To the side, tart Turkish yogurt offered a cooling, astringent dimension when mixed with the pideli, and nutty rice pilaf begged to be thrown in — but I had no more stomach space left for it.

Along with the enormous plate of pideli köfte, my $14 lunch special had included a big bowl of Turkish shepherd's salad — cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and more — and a large slice of baklava, plus unlimited refills of Turkish tea, which I drank from my tulip-shaped glass greedily. My friend's lunch special cost a few dollars less but somehow came with even more food: a sausage pide, more salad, crispy French fries and soft, jiggly rice pudding.

Although he hadn't known pide from pideli before ordering, I encouraged him to get the stone-baked specialty by describing it as the best calzone he'd never tried. This description does not do pide justice, however — especially not the pide at Nazif's.

A sausage- and egg-stuffed pide is the Turkish version of a calzone, but better.
Tony Fields
A sausage- and egg-stuffed pide is the Turkish version of a calzone, but better.

Location Info

Map

Nazif's Turkish Grill & Deli

8821 Westheimer Road
Houston, TX 77063

Category: Restaurant > Turkish

Region: Outer Loop - SW

Details

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Baby lahmacun: $1.95
Shepherd's salad: $3.45
Mixed appetizer plate: $7.95
Sausage pide: $8.95
Pideli köfte: $9.95
Sunday brunch buffet: $14.95
Baklava: $3.95

READ MORE
SLIDESHOW: Turkish Delights at Nazif's Turkish Grill & Deli
BLOGPOST: Nazif's Brings Affordable, Amazing Turkish Food to West Houston

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The hand-rolled dough is both sweet and savory at once, crunchy on its golden exterior and pita-soft inside. Tucked into the diamond-shaped pastry is an assortment of ingredients that would be equally at home inside one of the kolaches sold next door: scrambled eggs, cheese and Turkish sausage robustly seasoned with nutmeg and other warm spices. My friend's eyes widened on his first bite and stayed wide as he worked his way through the platter-sized pide.

"I've never had anything like this," he finally said, mystified by the revelation that this Turkish pide was perhaps better than his beloved Italian pizza.

"If you come back here without me, we aren't friends anymore," he warned, only half-joking. "I want to try more things. Can we try more things next time?"

"Yes," I assured him. "We'll definitely be back to try more things." With or without him, I'm determined to work my way through all of Farsak's dishes at Nazif's. After all, I had only a taste of the lahmacun — spicy beef and vegetables on flatbread so unbelievably thin and crispy, it could have been a buttery communion wafer — that day, thanks to a charming appetizer section that offers "baby" bites of various dishes for around $2. I can't wait to try that entire flatbread, the urfa kebap Nazif's was out of that day, and so much more at Houston's newest Turkish restaurant — a welcome entry in the small but welcoming Turkish scene.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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13 comments
sjmarsha
sjmarsha

Well, I think I need to try this just for the They Might Be Giants reference alone. The mouth watering description is just a bonus.

solmazbulut22
solmazbulut22

Traveling and food is my passion. I have been eating many restorants all over the world. I could define Nazif's Restorant is a definitely gourmet restaurant. Because food is highest quality and flavor, prepared well and presented in an artful manner. Most importantly, kitchen area and bathrooms are extremely clean. They also have life music on Friday and Saturday Nights which is so much fun. Meanwhile, such a friendly and comfortable atmosphere people starts dancing and singing Plus, they have free organigal Turkish tea :)

ozge.gurcanli
ozge.gurcanli

This place is amazing ! I am Turkish and I have been looking for the best Adana kebap since I have been to US (2006). I tried many places in New York, Chicago and DC. I have recently moved to Houston. Thanks to your review, I decided to try Nazif's. The best Adana kebap ever in US! If you are looking for a lowkey but delicious dinner, give it a try. You will be back !! (Bathroom was fine when I was there)

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

This was a fantastic review, Ms. S. I can't wait to try this spot.

essenvolljetzt
essenvolljetzt

took your recommendation and tried Nazif's...more wonderful than you described even! love that spicy lahmacun (turkish pizza), and the fact that it's a byob operation. in the monthly rotation now. thanks!

Anna M. Stone
Anna M. Stone

Check out Cafe' Rita on Dairy Ashford between Memorial and I-10.

thorwilliams1
thorwilliams1

I was there a couple of weeks ago for a dinner party.  the men's room was 2 inches deep in water,  the women's room had a sink that was out of order.

needless to say,  after discovering this, we left...  

how could they allow such poor sanitory conditions?  makes you wonder, how were the employees taking care of their hygene?  

timblack2
timblack2 topcommenter

Gotta be Jessica Walters you're talking about. Small world.

del.martinis
del.martinis topcommenter

We ate there recently, and can vouch for the quality, service and value of the food!  Superb.. and since it's BYOB  a good wine is perfect with this delectable food!

solmazbulut22
solmazbulut22

This is so rediculus !!! Because, I have been in Houston almost 4 mounths and I eat there at least 3 to 4 times a week. This incident happened one time only and could also happenes in our house. I can not believe you put this here. You seemed like extremely judgemental. Bytheway, I am from Turkey and you should know that Turkish people do not eat if the place is not clean !!!

MadMac
MadMac topcommenter

Annnnnd then I read this... Yikes!

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@thorwilliams1  

If the bathroom was filthy with a sewage problem then that would be a testimony to the restaurants authenticity.  Like Jessica, I also lived and taught in Istanbul.  The city is a feast for the senses.  Anyway, I look forward to trying Nazif's.  Thus far I've been getting my fix at Istanbul Grill. Good Turkish food but without the dysentery.

 
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