Edessa Restaurant: Mouthwatering Kurdish and Turkish Cuisine

A fun food collaboration between Urbaanite + Nashville Hidden Gems

Located off Nolensville Pike in front of the Nashville Zoo, in the area affectionately called “Little Kurdistan”, Edessa Restaurant serves up delicious Kurdish and Turkish cuisine. Named after the ancient Mesopotamian city of Edessa (the modern-day city is known as Urfa in southeastern Turkey), Edessa’s menu reflects the diverse cuisine of the area, which has Kurdish, Turkish, Armenian, and Arab influences. Mesut Kelik, Co-Owner, is Kurdish and from that region. He takes great pride in sharing these dishes with the Nashville community.

For those unfamiliar with Kurds, here is a very broad description that does not do the history and culture of Kurdish people justice: Kurdish people are an ethnic group from a region of the Middle East that mainly encompasses Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq. Nashville is home is to the largest Kurdish population in North America, with over 15,000 Kurds living here. There are between thirty-five and forty-five million Kurds worldwide. While they have their own culture, language, and ethnic identity, Kurds do not have their own sovereign state, with the closest representation being an autonomous region in Iraq.

Edessa separates itself from other Kurdish/ Mediterranean restaurants with its atmosphere and presentation of its dishes. There are so many great dishes at Edessa that there’s ample reason to come back, each dish bringing new flavors. For appetizers, I recommend starting with the appetizer platter if you are a fan of cold dips like hummus and baba ghanoush. It also comes with ezme, a Turkish salsa consisting of fresh tomatoes, red peppers, onions, parsley, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and pomegranate molasse. For a savory starter, I recommend either the golzeme, a flatbread with spinach and feta, or the su boregi, which has thin sheets of hand-rolled dough that are boiled before being baked, then layered with a mixture of feta cheese, parsley and butter.

Moving on to entrees, there is truly a wealth of options here. A staple dish and one of their most popular is the adana kabob, which comes with two skewers of chargrilled lamb and beef, seasoned with Turkish spices and served with rice and salad. For more unique dishes, there’s the testi kebabi. For this dish, finely chopped lamb is marinated and slow cooked for hours in a clay pot. For something lighter, try the beyti, which has bite sized pieces of kebab wrapped in lawash, topped with yogurt and tomato sauce. For those who prefer chicken, their chicken kebab is some of the most tender chicken I have ever tried.

If you came with a friend or group, have an appetite and enjoy grilled meats, go for the kabob festival. This full course meal includes the appetizer platter, salad, soup, rice, four types of grilled meats, and dessert. The presentation of the kabob festivals is spectacular; it is a great way to wow guests or family! For dessert, get the kunefe with a Turkish coffee if you really want to treat yourself. Turkish coffee is strong but the kunefe is the perfect sweet counterbalance to it.

Edessa has gained a lot of local attention for its great food and service in the last year, keeping Kelik and his staff busy. Weekend nights can be crowded, so plan accordingly. They have a large private room perfect for big groups, and are available for delivery on the major platforms. Give Edessa a follow on Instagram (@edessa.nashville) to keep up with them! If you’re looking for the same great flavors downtown, Kelik and his team recently opened Istanbul Shawarma in the Assembly Food Hall.

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