Eat Local: Balkan Grill
Balkan and Turkish delights under one roof
Writing about local restaurants is a delightful pursuit, never more so than when a hidden gem reveals itself. The Balkan Grill is one of those rare gems.
Located off North Kings Highway in Alexandria, proprietors Nurten Helvaci and her husband Sahin van den Tillaart took over the Huntington eatery three and a half years ago. Since then, the couple has improved and expanded the inherited menu, which now features delicious Turkish specialties, including several kebab dishes and the lahmacun and pide (two selections of Turkish-style pizza).
Nurten was born in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, and came to the U.S. to pursue a master's degree in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University. Many of her family members still live in Turkey. Head Chef Sahin is of Dutch and Turkish descent.
Signature dishes include: borek, a homemade fillo pastry stuffed with beef, cheese, spinach or potato; cevapcici, grilled sausages served inside house-made lapinja bread (baked fresh every morning); and the Iskender Kebab, traditional grilled and spiced meat served over toasted lapinja bread with a tomato and yogurt sauce. Nurten also highly recommends the grilled chicken sandwich–a favorite among regulars.
Vegetarians are not overlooked—the extensive offerings include a falafel appetizer and sandwich, hummus, baba ganoush, stuffed eggplant and a large selection of salads.
A refrigerator of delicious house-made desserts includes, of course, baklava, pastry squares filled with crushed walnuts and soaked in syrup; sekerpare, cookies soaked in syrup; and sutlac, a creamy Turkish rice pudding.
The eatery offers catering services and can accommodate large groups for any type of event–birthdays and office parties, even bridal and baby showers. Nurten also offers the option of customizing your own menu.
Nurten and Sahin are also the owners of the Balkan Grill & European Grocery in Rockville, Md., which opened last July.
Visit the Balkan Grill at 5902 A North Kings Highway. Delivery service is usually available during the evenings. Hours are Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone: 703-329-3303.
Please note, the attached menu represents the most updated selection. The restaurant website currently has the old menu posted.