There are many things that north London is famous for. Champagne socialists. Exasperating football teams. The Tottenham IKEA that makes or breaks relationships. Another, thanks to London’s Turkish community, is lahmacuns. Depending on who you talk to, the flatbread - topped with a tomato and chilli-spiced mince mixture before being baked to a crisp and rolled with salad and sauce (depending on your preference) - is the greatest go-to snack around north east London. Here are some of the best in north London that aren’t just on Green Lanes.
A (Brief) History Of London’s Best Snacks
Down the Newington Green end of Green Lanes, where Mary Wollstonecraft twinkles around the corner, there’s a handful of Turkish restaurants, patisseries, and also Ustun Lahmacun. This tiny dedicated lahmacun and pide shop has Don Corleone on their walls and lahmacuns you can’t refuse. Everything is made-to-order. The dough is kneeded fresh to a Rizla-like transparency, the mince mixture spread before being cooked in their wood burning oven. The result is excellent: heavy on onion and isot pepper, this is a lahmacun worth seeking out. Bear in mind, it’s cash-only.
If you’re in need of the quickest of quick (and satisfying) fixes on Green Lanes Grand Parade, then Antepliler is the place to go. Their lahmacuns are ready and waiting. Start an internal stopwatch when you walk in and you’ll more than likely be chewing on some hot and crispy dough in sub sixty seconds. Best of all is that their lahmacuns are also consistently good. Never skimping on topping and a little more tomato-y than others, we’d recommend getting some salad and chilli sauce with this one.
Outside of N4′s strip, it’s in N7 that you’ll find one of north London’s finest lahmacun. Formerly Crystal’s and now the snappily and mysteriously named Lahmacino, this gargantuan spot on the Holloway Road has the rare-ish combination of both freshly made lahmacun and gözleme. But we’re focusing on the former and let us tell you: it’s very, very good. We opt for the antep as more spice = more nice, but there’s a regular and vegan variation too. All are crisp and blistered with a definite lamb and chilli hit and, whisper it, they’re better than a majority of the lahmacuns on Green Lanes Grand Parade.
Like Ustun, Mangal Pide in Dalston is a lahmacun and pide salonu. It’s a room that lives and breathes flatbreads, straight out of its wood-burning oven, straight into your greedy hands. Lahmacuns are surprisingly hard to come by around here, despite the amount of Turkish restaurants, and maybe it’s because Mangal have got it covered. Freshly rolled and considerately topped with mince - it won’t let you down.
Amongst the smouldering competition of Green Lanes’ ocakbasi grills, its Diyarbakir that edges the top spot when it comes to lahmacuns. The dough is charred and blistered, thin and cracker-like at the edges, and carries an oozing smoky mince mixture in the middle. Unlike many lahmacuns, Diyarbakir’s lahmacun actually tastes of lamb - especially when eaten straight, without salads or sauces - and is generous with its topping. If you’re overwhelmed, confused or, worst of all, hungry on Green Lanes, then this is a guaranteed winner.
Now rebranded as ’Clapton Kebab House, this tiny kebab shop in Clapton once freshly rolled out east London’s finest lahmacuns and it probably still holds that title. Though ownership appears to have switched up and things can be a little less consistent. All being said, their lahmacuns are still made fresh, the flatbread paper thin, and the ratio of crisp to chew still excellent.
Though the term ‘Turkish pizza’ is used commonly enough, it feels like a disservice to a brilliant Middle Eastern dish. That said, 01 Adana’s cheesy lahmacun is an irresistible bit of gooey salty sacrilege. The cheese - of the indeterminable-but-salty-and-excellent-at-melting variety - is an unsurprisingly happy match for a handheld snack with meat and mince. It’s not the best lahmacun in the world anyway and, well, we have been known to throw some chilli sauce shaped fuel into that fire as well.
Like many big names, it differs day by day on what Gökyüzü you’ll get. One day their lahmacun will be crisp and filled with lamb, mince, and salad. And on another it will be doughy and paltry with its topping. What are you gonna do? Well, certainly order it if you’re sitting down as Gökyüzü never fails to disappoint in that situation. Alternatively cross your fingers or wander down the road.