Turk’s Inn is modeled on an old Wisconsin supper club that went by the same name, and like the original, this Bushwick restaurant looks like something you’d find at a highway rest stop surrounded by tumbleweeds with a sign advertising the world’s largest something or other. It’s a small white clapboard building with a big red awning, and when you walk inside, you’ll see taxidermied peacocks, large golden tassels, paisley curtains, and paisley booths. You’ll also find an excessive number of portraits, photographs, and decorative plates on the walls, and if you follow the ruby-red carpeting to the very back of the room, you’ll encounter a majestic cat painting that keeps watch over everything.
The cat is fluffy and white with no discernible limbs - just a big cat face in a sea of fur poking out in every direction as if it’s slowly becoming one with the universe. It is, to be sure, a very nice cat painting - and people seem to come to this place just to take a picture in front of it. So go ahead and take one, and if you must, get a few of yourself posing in a pink booth or maybe trying to feed a stuffed peacock. This is a unique place that feels celebratory as soon as you walk in the door - and once you actually get to the food, you’ll find that it’s just good enough to keep you from feeling as though you’ve wasted your time and money.
The menu is a mix of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, and it consists of things like a bread basket, green bean falafel, various shish kebabs, and moussaka. The bread can be a little dry, and the moussaka tastes like something you’d get in the business class section of a mid-tier airline - but some of the other stuff is actually pretty interesting. The dip platter, for example, comes with tangy beet labne and some extremely fresh vegetables covered in olive oil, and it’s a great way to start your meal. The lamb kebabs are also solid - and tender enough to cut with your fork - and we’re fans of the crunchy green bean falafel in a mushroom sauce that tastes like alfredo (in a good way). But before you try any of this, we suggest you start with a cocktail or a glass of wine. There’s a whole martini menu with a good, oniony gibson, and the wine list is full of worthwhile stuff from places like Austria, Slovakia, and Georgia.
Bring a small group, get a bottle of wine, and share a few small plates. None of the food will upset you - but it’s not the reason why you come here. At the end of the day, you’re here for a fun night out at a spot that looks like somewhere you’d celebrate your 40th anniversary in the year 1955. You aren’t necessarily going to dance on a table or take a reckless number of shots, but the red walls, velvet furniture, and hundreds of pieces of flair make this place feel several times more festive than your average restaurant. That’s what sets Turk’s Inn apart, and it’s why it’s a decent backup option for when you need to impress an out-of-towner or celebrate a birthday. After dinner, grab some drinks at the bar on the roof. It doesn’t have any stuffed peacocks or a cat painting, but it does have a neon sign the size of a billboard. And you’ll probably take a picture of it.
Do you enjoy fried cheese? If so, you’ll like this. (It’s a plate of fried cheese.) The cheese is salty and chewy and tastes very much like something you’d eat in a dive bar while drinking a $2 beer - and we mean that as a compliment.
One of our favorite things here, this dip platter comes with some mildly spicy muhammara, beet labne, and a very good hummus. The vegetables on the side are also nice and crunchy, and we appreciate the fact that they’re doused in salt and olive oil.
If, for some reason, you don’t like variety or delicious raw vegetables, skip dip platter and just go for this creamy, above-average hummus. It has some crunchy pickled radish on top and comes with a big piece of slightly charred bread for dipping.
There are a bunch of different shish kebabs at Turk’s Inn, and we especially like the one with big chunks of lamb. Just be aware that it’s incredibly rich, and you might start to feel like you’re eating a lamb-flavored stick of butter.
This is another kebab we like - but it has one big issue. There isn’t enough of the charred, tender octopus. We have nothing against potatoes, but there shouldn’t be so many on this skewer, taking up space the way the musical performances mostly just take up space on SNL.
This pork chop with applesauce doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the menu, and we aren’t sure how it got here - but it’s something we’d order again. The outside is nice and charred, and the meat stays moist.
We’ll almost always tell you to get bread at a restaurant - so it feels strange and emotionally confusing to say this, but you don’t need this bread basket on your table. It just isn’t very compelling, and the bread tends to be on the dryer side.