From the outside there isn’t much to entice you to pull into the gravel parking lot of the Kapadokya Mediterranean Grill. It’s a slow slung brick building, with arched windows that look into the dining room. The walls are painted a simple yellow with red lettering offering “lamb gyro” and “chicken gyro.” Sandwiched between a Taco Bell and a White Castle and just beyond the New Road exit off busy Route 1, Kapadokya might not seem like an obvious choice for the road warriors making their way between Edison and Trenton.
But stopping here is never a mistake. The menu is largely simple but bursting with flavors. The hummus is creamy and vibrant and miles away from what comes in plastic grocery store containers. The stuffed grape leaves have zips of mint and parsley that bring the rice and nuts inside alive. It never seems like there is enough pita to scoop up the tabbouleh and you’re forgiven for using a spoon.
Given its location and the transient nature of the clientele sandwiches (and other to-go items) is where Kapadokya excels. Owner Akin Bodur takes great pride in making just about everything in house, and that includes the butchering. His gyro, a combination of ground beef and lamb where it is slow roasted and grilled on a spit, is soft and tender, savory, and crispy around the edges.
“It’s authentic, how it should be done,” he says. “We can’t do it any other way.”
Photo by John Holl
Bodur opened Kapadokya six years ago after learning his craft working in a restaurant owned by his uncles. He would one day like to expand and offer more menu items, he says, including seafood, but for now the confines of his small kitchen keep the menu grounded.
Still, what he’s doing here can only come with experience and attention to detail. The falafel is fried just right, creating a crisp shell and soft steamy interior where the chickpeas are still intact. The shish kebab is tender and generously but not overwhelmingly spiced.
Most of the items are available as a pita, on a tortilla wrap or as an entrée with sides of rice or French fries available.
Named for the Central Anatolia area in Turkey, Kapadokya has a dining room that can comfortably seat 20, giving travelers a chance to stretch out and enjoy a meal while taking in the theater of the kitchen.
Be prepared for a wait, since everything is cooked to order. Or, follow the lead of the regulars, call in an order ahead of time and then zip right back onto the highway with a bag full of Mediterranean delights that is going to be much better than any of the other fast food options you’ll come across.
Kapadokya Mediterranean Grill, 4049 US Route 1 South, Monmouth Junction; 732-279, 6148. Open 11:30am–10pm, daily.
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