27 January, 2022, 01:45

Turkish restaurant “Istanbul” to open in former May’s Counter, August 13

Chef-owner Kamran Esar will run the restaurant with his family.

Turkey will soon join Tucson’s diverse list of countries with culinary representation.

Turkish restaurant Istanbul will open at the 3,283-square-foot-space which previously held May’s Counter Chicken & Waffles at 2945 E. Speedway Blvd.

Istanbul will host a soft opening on Tuesday, August 13 and a grand opening on Friday, August 16. Customers will receive 15% off their bill on Thursday, August 22.

Chef-owner Kamran Esar will run the restaurant with his family, including his father, who has 45 years of butchery experience.

“He was one of my biggest supporters,” Esar said.

Esar previously cooked at Opa Greek Cuisine & Fun and Opa Time at American Eat Co.

Istanbul’s menu will feature doner (and derivatives such as gyros), kebabs, Turkmen rice, wraps, sandwiches, burgers, and other Turkish and Mediterranean options.

Interior at Istanbul

Interior at Istanbul (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Since dishes are made fresh to order, the restaurant will be able to easily accommodate order modifications, Esar said. A wide variety of vegetable dishes will also be available.

Additionally, the menu will feature specials such as lamb shank, manti, lamb chops, okra, and more.

Istanbul will also feature fresh house-made desserts such as baklava and jalebi.

While the restaurant space will be remodeled, the large bar will remain a point of emphasis in the restaurant. The drink menu will include the most popular American and Middle Eastern beers and spirits, Esar said.

Istanbul facade

Istanbul facade (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Tentative operating hours will be 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

For more information, visit istanbultucson.com.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com and his Instagram @jackie_tran_.