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"Polished Casual" Turkish

Bosphorus is the original Turkish Restaurant in Orlando, now serving multiple locations in Winter Garden, Dr. Philips, Lake Nona, and Winter Park. At each location, you'll walk in to find authentic Turkish decor, including pottery, hand-painted lamps, carpets, and furniture. But, it's at this moment you'll find yourself stepping into an entirely new elevated dining experience, something out of the ordinary.

The owners like to emphasize they are a "polished casual" restaurant, where you can feel comfortable coming in after work during happy hour to enjoy a cocktail, celebrate a 50th-anniversary party, a fancy date night, or even just a regular family dinner. They are anything but stuffy, and their staff reflects this throughout the restaurant.

John Christiansen, the General Manager of the Winter Garden location, has been with Bosphorus for a little over five years and attributes their success to their customer-oriented strategy paired with the focus on making sure their staff feels appreciated, happy, and able to make a living while working there. For example, during the start of the pandemic, they turned their kitchens into a free food pantry for their employees to help them with groceries. In order to reduce turnover, Bosophrous encourages open communication between staff and management so that everyone feels like their opinions matter and feels valued as an employee. Many of their employees have been there for a long time, which helps provide a consistent dining experience each time.

The customer-oriented strategy is adopted early on during the hiring process to ensure the restaurant has a substantial amount of repeat business. They know that a loyal customer is key to their success and go to great lengths to create a unique and satisfying experience each time. In addition, each location strives to make sure their customers feel "welcome" into their "home" while dining at Bosophrous, just like the Turkish way.

If you haven't had Turkish cuisine before, your taste buds are in for an adventure. Experienced chefs prepare the food, and they use only Halal meats. Halal meats are fresh, never frozen meats, and you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better they taste because of that. Their culinary team will only use the freshest vegetables and the most authentic Mediterranean ingredients. They import many of those ingredients from Turkey just like they do with the many decor pieces.

Turkish food is incredibly flavorful and leaves your hunger satisfied. You can start off with their signature appetizer, Lavas, which is a hollow bread that you can rip apart to dip in the various dips or soups offered. Most customers will opt for the babaganoush, hummus, or ezme to start with, which will all pair well with the lavas. If you didn't know, babaganoush is a fresh smoked eggplant puree with tahini, yogurt, and olive oil; ezme is a spicy blend of tomatoes, red and green bell peppers, red onions, walnuts, garlic, parsley, dill pickle, and lemon juice. If you want to go towards more of a hot appetizer to start with, then try the Sigara Boregi; this crispy filo dough is then stuffed with creamy feta cheese and parsley. After trying these, you wouldn't believe how many people order a second order for the table!

Now, after you finish that first course of appetizers, you'll need to try one of the best Turkish entrees you can find in Central Florida. If you aren't sure exactly what to pick because it all looks so good, perhaps order the "Mixed Grill for two." This is going to be served with a combination of all the meats they offer at the restaurant, and it'll be perfect for sampling what you like so you know how to order next time you come back. It also comes with a hearty helping of rice, onions, and carrots, so both of the people ordering it will have more than enough.

Don't leave without trying the last course, dessert! They have a great variety of authentic Turkish desserts like pistachio baklava, chocolate hazelnut baklava, pistachio gelato, and a local favorite, Kunefe. Kunefe is shredded filo dough filled with sweet Turkish cheese, baked and topped with citrus-infused syrup and pistachios. Try it with a pistachio gelato scoop on top for pure bliss at the end of your meal.

Bosphorus also has an excellent cocktail menu with a Turkish twist to many of them. The best part is that their happy hour is one of the best you can find in Central Florida. It lasts from 3p-6p any day of the week, including weekends! Their beers, cocktails, and wines by the glass are half off! It's one of the more remarkable happy hours where you can find the best drink deals and the best food around. If you are a local, you'll be pleased to know that they carry beer from local breweries, such as Orlando Brewing and Crooked Can Brewery. So if you have a favorite craft beer from a local spot, you might be able to find it here!

So come for the drinks, stay for the food, celebrate the occasion and come back for the experience!

Bosphorus: 16418 New Independence Pkwy #140 Winter Garden FL 34787. For more information or to make reservations, call 407-554-2242, visit, or find them on OpenTable.

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