Food

Take a Look Inside DC’s New Gorgeous Turkish Restaurant

Ottoman Taverna channels Instanbul in Mt. Vernon Triangle. Photography by Jeff Elkins

Restaurateur Hakan Ilhan turns to his native Turkey for Ottoman Taverna, opening Monday, May 2 in the Mt. Vernon Triangle neighborhood. While nearby sister concepts Alba Osteria and L’Hommage touch down in Italy and France, respectively, this is Ilhan’s first ode to his homeland.

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Diners can dig into entrees such as charcoal-grilled kebabs, or share mezze.

Istanbul native Ilhan Erkek has been tapped to lead the kitchen, and comes from head chef positions at Ritz-Carlton hotels in his home city, and more recently in Naples, Florida. The menu includes a variety of mezze (small plates), as well as pide flatbreads and more traditional entree-size portions. Certain dishes run traditional, including a variety of grilled kebabs cooked in a charcoal pit, doner roasted slowly on the spit, and grandma-inspired ravioli stuffed with beef and smothered in garlicky yoghurt sauce. You’ll also find more modern interpretations, such as fattoush salad with grilled calamari or confit garlic hummus.

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Istanbul native, chef Ilhan Erkek, prepares traditional dishes such as slow-braised lamb shanks.

The wine list draws from a wide swath of the Mediterranean, including Greek, Turkish, Italian, and Israeli varietals. Guests can sample during weeknight happy hour, with runs from 4 to 7, and includes a mezze menu of items $6 and under, such as stuffed mussels, crispy flatbread topped with ground lamb, and goat cheese pide.

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The design is meant to channel the Mediterranean.

Atlanta-based designer Matt Norris is behind the airy decor, which channels the Mediterranean. Though I Street isn’t exactly the Aegean Sea, a 46-seat outdoor patio will be a pretty place to relax over a bottle of Turkish rosé in warm weather.

Ottoman Taverna. 425 I St., NW Suite #107; 202-847-0395. Open (May 2) for dinner, Sunday and Monday 4 to 10; Tuesday through Thursday, 4 to 11; Friday and Saturday, 4 to midnight.

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Weeknight happy hour in the bar brings specials on mezze like stuffed mussels and pides.
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The wine list draws from Turkey, Greece, and the Mediterranean, while cocktails also use ingredients and spirits from the area.
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a 46-seat patio opens in warm weather.

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.