You can be easily forgiven for falling for the stereotype that “all Balkan food is the same”. Whilst there are definitely similarities and influences across the region, you can be sure that even within the countries across the Balkans you will also find just as many differences in traditional dishes.

Although I’ve visited Istanbul on a number of occasions, it recently came to my attention that I was not as well-acquainted with Turkish cuisine as I would like to be. With many Turkish people telling me recently about their favourite dishes, most of which I had never even heard of, I desperately wanted to go on a Turkish culinary adventure – without the need to actually travel anywhere!

Imagine my delight as I’m scrolling through one of the food delivery apps and I see all the the dishes that I’ve been told I must try! Needless to say, the destination for my next dinner date had been decided even if my accompanying parter had not. In particular (as dumplings are my all time favourite food) I was entranced by the sight of Mantı, a dish made of numerous tiny, meat-filled dumplings bathing in spiced garlic yoghurt sauce. Yes, it is exactly as delicious as it sounds – if not more!

Soon enough, Saturday night rolled around and so did I off the couch and towards Kalaja e Tiranes in the centre of town. Despite the literally freezing temperatures outside, the restaurants, including Lezet, were all busy and bustling. Although the ambiance inside is a little ‘clinical’ for my liking, we chose to stay inside simply due to the weather.

Staff quickly attended to making us comfortable, explaining the menu in great detail (although I had already decided what I was going to order!). Luckily, they also recommend many of the same dishes I was there for – lahmacun and İçli Köfte, to name a few. Throughout the evening we were never left waiting or wanting for anything.

Furthermore, I was really impressed with the value of place! We ordered a fairly large amount of food (more than I would suggest is ‘normal’ for two people), enjoyed a few glasses of wine together and only paid around €30. With Kalaja e Tiranes being so ‘fancy-schmancy’, I was certainly expecting a little more wallet damage.

If you, like me, are looking to try some Turkish cuisine here in Tirana, Lezet is definitely one option I can recommend. What are your best suggestions for dining on some delicious Turkish delights?

Lezet – ✪✪✪✪

Cuisine: Turkish

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday; 7:30am to 11pm

Best Dish: Mantı, Lahmacun, İçli Köfte


+355 69 529 6597


Rr Murat Toptani

Kalaja e Tiranes

City Centre