/Istanbul Ain't Got Nothin' on Gaziantep

Istanbul Ain't Got Nothin' on Gaziantep

Turkey has the best food in the world (sorry Italy!) so when a place is dubbed “the best” I demand perfection. Güllüoglu, a pastry shop that is touted as making Istanbul’s best baklava, falls so short of the mark it seems like they aren’t even trying. It reminded me of the baklava I used to eat at Mamoun’s at 3 am when I was in college. The thing behaved more like a burger than a pastry-the insides would slip out creating increasingly unbalanced bites until I was left with no phyllo dough and all filling. Who ever thought Güllüoglu would channel a New Haven, CT dive for drunks and stoners instititution as their inspiration?

Now for a baklava that is beyond reproach, visit its birthplace, Gaziantep. When it comes to this flaky, nutty, honey saturated pastry, no one does it like this city in southern Turkey. After just one bite of fıstıklı (pistachio) baklava last January, my life was changed forever, and in no small way. Even though the pastry is made of many layers of nuts, phyllo dough and honey, you would never know that they were separate entities. They work together in perfect harmony and resist the tendency evinced by Güllüoglu and Mamoun’s balkava to shift under the pressure of your teeth. Now if anyone knows where I can find this property in a baklava in Turkey I need to know!

Update: There is, in fact, great baklava in Istanbul. Güllüoglu just happens to be resting on their laurels a bit these days. I recommend heading to a baklavaci (shop specializing in baklava).

2016-01-09T13:32:27+00:00 March 5th, 2009|Categories: Istanbul, Sweets & Dessert, Turkish Cuisine|9 Comments


  1. Barbara Isenberg March 7, 2009 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Hi Katie! Yes, you are correct. In fact, I have found that most Turkish food in Turkey tastes better outside of Istanbul! I’m not a big fan of baklava, but a lot of my friends enjoy Saray on Istıklal Caddesi in Taksim. You might want to give it a try before heading out.

  2. Katie March 7, 2009 at 10:23 am - Reply

    I’ll try it out. Ive also scoped out some pastry shops in other parts of the city on both continents so look for a full report at the end of the trip.

  3. Scott March 7, 2009 at 10:28 pm - Reply

    Wow, a Mamoun’s shout out! That’s where I discovered the Turkish Delight. Thanks for the updates, sounds like an amazing time!

    Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  4. Katie March 7, 2009 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    Hey Scott, Yeah Mamoun’s is quite an institution. I miss New Haven!!! Im having a great time here and was just thinking today of how similar some of the dishes are to Sicilian ones, especially la pasticceria salata. The dough used for pizzette and sfincioni is identical to the little pizzas served here at pastry shops at lunchtime. It makes me feel right at home.

  5. idiz March 28, 2009 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    As you mentioned, probably the best baklava is made in Gaziantep. Imam Cagdas (www.imamcagdas.com) is a well known place for baklava and kebab but the locals from Gaziantep are saying that there are better restaurants. The sweets website of imam cagdas look so delicioussss.

  6. Tania April 1, 2009 at 5:53 am - Reply

    I’m going to Istanbul in about a month. I’ve also heard of Gulluoglu being “the best in Istanbul” and now that I’m come across this entry, I’d really like to know where to get the best baklava in Istanbul! Do you have the names/locations of some baklavacis for me to visit and try? Thank you so much!

  7. Katie April 1, 2009 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    @Tania, I quite like the baklava from Cafer Erol and the neighborhood shops selling only baklava. You can try the baklava at Güllüoglu then hop the ferry from Karakoy to Kadikoy and try what Cafer Erol has to offer. Afiyet olsun!

  8. Oguz Kosebalaban August 15, 2013 at 8:59 pm - Reply


    If Baklava is not consumed on the day of production; everyday it gets soggy a 5 – 10% ; and yet some of them already come soggy. When you bite the fine baklava it talks to you; you should hear the breaking of the layers.
    I prefer the baklava of two places in Istanbul; Hamdi Restaurant next to Spice Market has got its own seperate daily baklava manufactury and if I show up by 12.30 – 1 pm that ensures I get the right stuff. Though I like Sobiyet (: shobiyet ) better , this one has hot a thin daily milk cream ( kaymak) layer in it, you can’t tell.
    I came across with one visitor, among many who admired it highly, saying “I want to cry now.”
    The other one is at least as good; Canak (Chanak ) Restaurant in Acibadem district of Asiatic ıstanbul, accessible from kadikoy by public transport. Exact same feelings here ; and plus, katmer, a version of baklava with less layering, served warm , made to order is available.
    I would avoid a place if baklava is not sold out by late afternoon , evening; or else they will sell it the following day. since this is not an every day – week desert for me, I only always eat it in these two places and occasionally at Gulluoglu of Karakoy. Gulluoglu feels like a larger scale production and still almost as good.
    I have tried other places enogh times to realise on and off they sell baklava left over from the previous day; and I know in the first two places baklava usually finishes and not available in the late afternoon. Try baklava with walnut for a change, although mainstream taste is one with pistachio in it.

    Hamdi is also my favorite for ( lamb and beef) kebab with pistachio, and infidel mountain salad. You are not entitled to talk about these bites without trying these places.
    Oguz Kosebalaban

  9. Oguz Kosebalaban August 15, 2013 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    add on : My mother is from Gaziantep, and I spent proper time in Gaziantep to communicate on baklava 🙂

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