Turkish cuisine at Istanbul in Burlingame, CA

One of my least visited neighborhoods in the Bay Area is Burlingame. The one time I did make it here, I walked away promising to return. The downtown is charming and very walk friendly. It also has a surfeit of very interesting restaurants representing a wide gamut of cuisines. Thanks to a friend moving to an area, I got the opportunity to make it to Burlingame this past weekend. We spent the evening at a friend’s place and then walked down to the downtown area hoping to catch dinner at Mingalaba. We had been to the Burmese restaurant before and walked out happy. We were hoping to try some dishes that we didnt get to during the last visit. Fortunately or unfortunately, Mingalaba had a 40 minute wait and we decided to walk down to the relatively new Istanbul, a block away. This is my review of Istanbul, a Turkish restaurant in Burlingame.

On an early Sunday night, we got tables fairly easily for a party of 8. This gave me a momentary pause- what if people didnt turn up because the food wasnt that great?. I was hesitant if we had made the right choice not waiting for a table at the more dependable and known commodity with Mingalaba. Thankfully all that was put to rest fairly early.

The table was predominantly vegetarian. So we chose to go with vegetarian appetizers. In addition to offering single appetizer items, Istanbul offered combination appetizer platters. We went with Combo one which had hummus, eggplant delight and cacik (a yoghurt and mint based chutney like dish). We also had complementary bread and a mild chutney that seemed to also have a hint of yoghurt in it. The bread was soft and the ravenous crowd dived in quickly. For the adults we ordered from the three main vegetarian entree offerings- falafel, the eggplant delight and an okra curry. For the little guy we ordered some hummus and zucchini cakes. The food arrived in about 15 minutes. The little guy loved his hummus very much. He didnt like the zucchini cakes although I felt they were pretty good. My falafel was well done. Folks who ordered the okra and eggplant dishes said it was good but lacked a spicy punch- it was a tad too bland for them. All entrees were accompanied by some heavenly smelling (and tasting) rice. Everyone loved the rice. It was awesome.

For dessert, we ordered two plates of the baklava. Each order of baklava comes in four small square pieces. So it made our lives easier. I loved the baklava. While it is not as good as ones from Turkey, they were pretty good. I was told it was made in house.

Overall, it was a good Turkish meal for all of us. The ambiance is nice and relaxed and the food was pretty good. If you are in the area and interested in sampling some Turkish fare, give Istanbul a shot.


Ambiance: 9/10. Loved the ambiance. Large ceiling and an open welcoming seating area with plush sofas made it a pleasant experience.

Service: 8.5/10. Service was good. A tad slow but understandable.

Food: 8.25/10. I would not call it spectacular but I liked my meal as did most people.

Price: 8.25/10. Befitting the location and neighborhood, Istanbul is not cheap but neither is it too pricey. It was reasonable.

Restroom: 8/10. Restrooms were clean and reasonably maintained.

Overall: 8.25/10. Good place to sample Turkish food if you are in the area. Dont forget to order the baklava.