Gelik Atakoy (near the airport, outside the city, though there are two other locations) was another local recommendation in Istanbul, and was probably my favorite meal of the trip (followed by the informal adana kebab in the Grand Bazaar).
To start, a sort of rice pilaf with lots of cracked black pepper (excellent — I don’t know if it was fresher or different black pepper, or if there were other spices as well), a salad, some pulped eggplant (in white), and more adventurously (the brownish-pink lump): çig köfte, a sort of meatball of raw ground beef, bulgur, and red pepper. I liked it quite a bit. [ side note: looking up its name later turned up an NIH paper about the antimicrobial effects of chopped garlic in raw meat ]
Then, many courses of meat, including döner (roasted lamb on a vertical spit), kofte (meatballs), a mouth-watering small lamb chop, lamb cooked in an underground pit until very tender (which Wikipedia’s List of Kebabs suggests was kuyu kebab), and chicken wings. Just a few photos:
For dessert, a pastry with a crunchy, threaded, shredded-wheat-like texture (Kunefe, Kataifi, or one of many other names), pistachios, and a soft cheese. It wasn’t really my thing, though the texture was interesting: [ side note: how it's made ]