I had a chance last week to venture into the brand new Istanbul Bistro in East Sacramento, which very recently took over the space last occupied by Vanilla Bean Bistro on J Street. Little has changed in the décor, but visitors will certainly enjoy the different menu, which features an array of Turkish and Mediterranean dishes such as moussaka (baked beef and eggplant casserole), souvlaki (chicken shish kebab), acili ezme (cucumber and crushed walnut salad) and a falafel plate. As soon you’re seated, a basket of freshly-baked, sesame-speckled flatbread is brought to the table with a plate of tangy, smooth hummus – I could easily have made a meal out of that alone. Dishes we enjoyed included the kitchen’s nurturing lentil soup and a delicious (and rib-sticking) traditional Turkish dish called karni yarik – baked eggplant stuffed with ground beef and topped with a robust, full-flavored housemade tomato sauce. Make an effort to visit this small, family-owned eatery – you’ll be glad you did.
3260-B J Street, Sacramento