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Istanbul Restaurant: Casual, no frills, Turkish cuisine on Nolensville Road


Owner Memet Arslan - Photo by Debra Martinez Brissette
Are you familiar with Turkish cuisine? Turkish cuisine has its influence from the Ottoman Empire—which entails a fusion of Central Asia, Middle Eastern, and Balkan cuisine. As with any ethnic cuisine, each region has its own specialty or variation.
Istanbul is a small family owned restaurant located in Nashville on Nolensville Road. Istanbul Restaurant has been serving Turkish cuisine since 2002. Owner Memet Arslan, is cooking behind the counter and greeting customers. The establishment is no frills with plenty of comfortable seating. Entertainment provided by… “Big screen TV.”  
The menu consists of homemade Turkish style plates such as Beef Shish Kabob, Doner Kabob, (doner steak/rotating roast), Kofta Platter (ground beef mixed with spices and fried—translated as “meatball” or “meatloaf”), Kuzy Platter (lamb), and Veggie Platter, as well as sandwiches, fresh prepared soups, salads, and homemade desserts.

Istanbul Restaurant: Photo by Debra Brissette 

Kudos to Doner Kabob Platter. The steak is well spiced, cooked to a golden color, then cooked again with olive oil and served on a bed of basmati rice, cucumber and taboulleh salad. This is a perfect hearty meal. Memat would not reveal his secret spice ingredients, but it has the right balance of flavors. The basmati rice has an excellent taste and cooked to perfection—soft, and fluffy. The Doner Kabob is very flavorful, tender, and moist. The hot lentil soup is pureed, hearty, comforting and well seasoned. One cup is not enough. (Memet would not disclose his ingredients, but typical Turkish spices may include: cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, peppercorn, cumin, coriander, fennel, and dill.) In addition to homemade lentil soup, Istanbul Restaurant prepares and serves white bean and tarhana (yogurt) soup daily. Tarhana soup is prepared with yogurt, red pepper paste, mint, and spices. (Soup is served warm.)

Istanbul Restaurant: Photo by Debra Brissette
Desserts are prepared fresh daily. The dessert menu includes traditional baklava (phyllo pastry with nuts and syrup), seker pare (a moist, round almond pastry), sutlac (rice pudding), revane (coconut cake with syrup), and kurabiye (powdered pastry with pecans). The Seker pare is made with fresh dough, shaped round like a tennis ball and soaked in an almond based sauce. Each spoonful is moist. The sauce is a nice balance of sweet almond flavor. Try the dessert with a cup of Turkish coffee or tea. (Turkish coffee is an excellent choice for coffee drinkers who enjoy strong, bold flavors.)

Beverage items consist of typical soft drinks in addition to bottled water, Turkish coffee, Turkish tea, and a traditional yogurt drink called ayran. Ayran is prepared with plain yogurt, water, salt, and mint. It is an acquired taste. Ayran is not sweet. The bold flavor of salted yogurt is prominent. Alcoholic beverages are not served.

If dinner or lunch is not on your agenda, Istanbul is the perfect place to enjoy a bold cup of Turkish coffee or tea and a freshly baked authentic Turkish pastry. Step out of the box and try a new flavor of cuisine. Stop by and say hello to Memet--and wish him a Happy Birthday!

Average menu prices:

Plates: $6.25 - $15.99 (good portions)

Sandwiches: $4.15 - $6.00

Soups: $1.99 - $2.99 (cup or bowl)

Salads: $1.99 - $7.50

Desserts: $0.99 - $1.99


2631 Nolensville Road

Nashville, TN 37211



Between I-440 and Thompson Lane

Catering is Available



  • keith 5 years ago

    sounds similar to typical middle eastern food. do you know of any other Turkish restaurants in the area?