Babylon Turkish Restaurant: Authentic Cuisine and Belly Dancing

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon remain the most mysterious of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Unlike the Great Pyramid of Giza, which can still be visited, scholars and historians are still debating over whether the gardens ever existed at all. Whether fact or fiction, the gardens are legendary for their lush beauty and it's fitting that Babylon Turkish Restaurant was named after them.

The restaurant, which opened about two months ago in South Beach, features a gorgeous garden courtyard, with trees covered in lights and glass evil eyes for good luck.

See also: Miam Cafe & Boutique: European Cafe Life Comes to Wynwood

The inside dining room is decorated with handcrafted Turkish pottery and glass lamps. The menu is as authentically Turkish as the decor.

Although Miami has quite a few Mediterranean restaurants that offer Turkish dishes, partners Orhan Duz, Sinan Kilinc, and Ahmet Demir decided to focus on traditional Turkish cuisine for the restaurant, flying in chef Ali Cinar from Turkey to helm the kitchen. Cinar comes from Antep, a city in the southeast region of the country, only about an hour's drive from the Syrian border. The restaurant focuses on that cuisine, known for light and bright cuisine.

Partner Ahmet Demir, who invited Short Order to sample some dishes, says that although Turkish food may have similarities to Persian, Israels, Iraqi, and Greek cuisine, there are major differences in taste in preparation. "We use less cumin in our dishes, which are generally prepared only with lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. The flavors are very fresh, and everything is prepared in-house daily." A good example of the bold, bright flavors of Turkey can be found in the extensive array of cole appetizers found on the menu. Ezme is a blend of finely chopped vegetables, mixed with lime juice, olive oil, and a kick of spices ($6).

All appetizers are served with Ramadan bread, named after the Muslim month of fasting. Demir shares that during Ramadan, everyone flocks to their local bakeries to buy this special bread to break their daily fast. The bread, made with dry yeast, is a denser, richer version of traditional pita bread.

Perusing the menu, you'll find familiar dishes, many of them with a twist. Instead of grape leaves, sun-dried eggplant is used in Turkish dolma and walnuts are substituted for pine nuts in the Kli Kofte. The results are subtle differences in taste that allow you to explore a menu that is both familiar and exotic at the same time.

Ali Nazik is a traditional dish that dates back to the Ottoman Empire, where a chef named Ali was said to have been famous for this meal and his kind demeanor. The dish, literally translated into "kind Ali", is a comforting mix of roasted eggplant, topped with beef and lamb ($19).

Beyti features ground lamb rolled in lavash, served with a savory sauce ($18).

Nearly every country has their regional pudding. In Turkey, it's Kazandibi, a rich custard baked until it "burns" on the bottom. The custard is flipped over to showcase the caramelized part, then sprinkled with pistachios.

Of course, you can't have Turkish cuisine without a cup of thick, strong Turkish coffee...

Or belly dancing.

Babylon is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. until midnight.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

Follow Short Order on Facebook, Twitter @Short_Order, and Instagram @ShortOrder.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.