Hidden at the mouth of the Beyoğlu’s labyrinthine backstreets, the restaurant stretches over two stories. The term ocakbaşı refers to one of the most important local culinary traditions -sitting around a copper-hooded grill, and being fed with a constant flow of kebabs by a grill master. Indeed, the ocakbaşı is a favorite among Istanbulites –no matter how touristy it looks.
Zübeyir is the name of one of two brothers who opened the joint in 2006. Although they have both been in the industry much longer, neither expected it to be received so well. Today, the brothers have opened another (slightly more ostentatious) location in Istanbul’s Asian neighborhood of Ataşehir.
Most who eat at Zübeyir barely do any ordering. Show up, and trust your waiter. He’ll take good care of you. For those who prefer knowing what they will be eating, the menu offers a nice range of familiar favorites from eggplant or grilled garlic and onion to gavurdağı (tomatoes, spring onions, green pepper, parsley, pomegranate syrup, and crushed walnut pieces) and cacık (chilled yogurt soup with cucumbers and an herb party). And these are only the starters.
Admittedly, when it comes to the grilled options, these masters are not looking to create anything new under the sun. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. After years of working on their craft (it is), honing their skills (there are), they have perfected the spice mixes, the grilling times, and the heat of the charcoal ambers. Masters of their trade, the menu offers standard options like çöpşiş kebap and spicy Adana kebab (they also simply call this kebap or vegetable kebab). But when asked, regulars return for the kaburga (ribs) or the ciğer (liver). However, it’s easy to fill up before the main act arrives – as we have done so many times before. But. Details. We regret nothing.
Note: Zübeyir Ocakbaşı is a popular place. Reservations are highly recommended.