Finally, another good Turk in Riga! And finally (hmm), another ugly hole-in-the-wall onBrīvības...
Quite recently, Stambula, a Turkish grocery store, opened on Brīvības to the delight of all those who struggle finding what they need at Rimi or Prisma, something I'm sure all expats in Riga have experienced. Well, now they have expanded their business and opened a Turkish food joint. Considering their food import business, this is a great idea. Now you'll have another option if you want to avoid those large kebab joint franchises where they put handwritten ”spicy sauce” labels on ketchup bottles and you hear muffled barking* from the basement. Ok, I just made that up, but would you be surprised if I didn't?
”you hear muffled barking from the basement”
At Stambulas Kebabi, you can have all the Turkish fast food you'll ever want. Different types of kebab, köfte, lahmacun and so on. Although I'd advise you to stay away from the köfte (which is a collection of leathery meat things which has a smell that remind you of... well, you'll know if you try it), all the kebab I've tried has been really good. It's fresh, has lots of flavor and is all in all very tasty. The only thing I miss is a choice to have some garlic and/or spicy sauce in the dishes. As it is now, the food borders on being on the dry side. However, this is a very minor complaint on an otherwise very pleasant kebab surprise.
Service is reasonably fast and friendly, and they speak decent English and (surprise) excellent German, should you be of that nature. Also, while their prices vary, I have to say that eating at Stambulas Kebabi is well worth the money.
However, even if the food gets a big plus, I have to give a big minus for hygiene. When I approached the kebab joint, some guy was standing outside, smoking. Upon entering, he came after me, and it turned out that he was working there. He took my order and moved on to prepare my food, without washing his hands... Not very hygienic, and it might prevent someone more meticulous than me from going there again.
* Or even worse... Like that joke about a conversation supposedly overheard at the central market in Riga:
Customer: So, what did this meat do yesterday? Was it barking? (ha ha ha...)
Salesperson: No, it was looking through trash bins for food.