Nizam’s, Vienna, VA

Nizam’s has been open since 1978, and with the possible exception of Topkapi in Fairfax, had the best reputation for Turkish in NoVa. So how’s it doing now?

I hadn’t been here in years, probably ten years, but I distinctly remember getting (and enjoying) a Yogurtlu Kabob; this time around, the three of us stuck with meze.

The Kavaklidere ($6.75 for both red and white) was a wonderful surprise of a house wine. It was exactly what I had hoped for: correct flavors, light-medium body, and no ugly flavors sticking out. The red in particular was in danger of not being pleasant, but it was, and I’d get it the next time I go.

As for the meze, there were two standouts: Sigara Borek ($5.95) and Cacik ($4.50), and if you’re going to get appetizers here, put both of these on your menu. The regular Borek ($4.50) was awful, probably not made in-house, and was so devoid of fillings that it was difficult to find them.  My mom loved her cup of Lentil Soup ($3.50); I took one bite and found it a bit thin and salty. Kasar Sahanda ($5) was just plain old gooey, oven-melted cheese, so if you like that, get it. The Sucuk ($6) was grocery-store quality, diagonal cuts of sausage, and the Hommus ($5) was absolutely no better than you’d get at a Safeway – coarse and bitter, it is the worst hommus I can remember having at a restaurant.

Service here is semi-formal, and also professional and polished. It’s obvious this is an old-school restaurant, where customers are valued and treated well. Remember Nizam’s (along with Cafe Renaissance) if you’re in Vienna and looking to be served by people who know what they’re doing. This restaurant is also quite welcoming to the older diner.

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