Monday, November 4, 2013

Gengiz Khan Turkish Grill, Tampa, FL

Dayum, Turkish food...where have you been all my life?

The cuisine style is most easily comparable to Greek and Lebanese at the local level (I love both Acropolis and Byblos, but Gengiz Khan exceeds the quality of both in my humble opinion...and trounces Istanblu's ass, which we did enjoy in a somewhat unmemorable way as well) and its simple strip-mall exterior belies the succulent treasures awaiting within.  Comfortable, yet casually elegant, it would be a fine and affordable choice for either family or date night dining. And who doesn't love a camel motif (as long as camel in its "toe" form is solidly steered clear of)?

We received very friendly, informative and attentive service from the lovely Alex.  I've tried Eastern European wines before (which mostly comprise the wine list at Gengiz Khan) and they're not my favorites.  UD and I zeroed in on the limited selections from California...a Zin for him and a Chard for me...nicely priced by the glass at $7-$8.  Our Lebne starter made me want to throw my previously beloved Tzatziki under a bus. Chilled, low fat yogurt thickened with a touch of garlic, walnuts, fresh dill, mint and olive oil was presented with warm and toasty grilled pita triangles. While it would've been fresh and delicious without them, the addition of walnuts ratcheted this spread a notch higher in quality than any of its local peer renditions.

I dare the most die-hard veggie-hater on the planet to taste the Gengiz Khan Zucchini Pancakes without experiencing at least a split second of stance reconsideration.  Moist and tender on the inside, golden and crispy fried on the outside, I'd take these over french fries Any. Day.  Delightful.

My 10 oz. Beef Filet Shish Kebab was beautifully marinated, grilled to a perfect medium-rare and served atop a zesty bed of couscous.  The presentation was lovely and the $17.95 price seemed quite reasonable based on quality, quantity and plating.

UD was similarly wowed by his $22.95 15 oz. order of juicy and well-seasoned lamb chops with their home-style, lumpy and pleasantly garlicky sidecar of freshly mashed potatoes.

Foregoing dessert is not my better half's strong suit, and today was no exception. After Underdog twisted my arm almost to the breaking point, I succumbed to temptation and was glad I did.  I loved our Baklava.  More nutty and less honey-drenched than most versions I've tried, I really enjoyed its sturdier consistency and slightly less sweet flavor profile.

At just under $100 for a wonderful dinner for two with a couple of glasses of wine apiece, two apps, two perfectly executed entrees and a dessert to share, Gengiz Khan truly delivers for its price point.

Gengiz Khan on Urbanspoon
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.


  1. As usual Sweet Polly, another spectacular review. Even though Gengiz is just down the street from us, we have never been. Middle Eastern cuisine has never called to me, but after reading your review, I think I am hearing at least a whisper.

    It's either Gengiz Khan or Johnny Grits. I'm going to go for Gengiz. It's closer, and we have a grit in the pantry.

  2. I think you'll be pleased with the quality and execution of the grilled meat offerings and the starchy sides are better than average, JR. One of the doctors at the practice I worked for up until this past summer used to rave about the place but I was dubious. I'm glad we finally tried it...he was right!