A restaurant that has seen a lot of success in Central Jersey has officially expanded up north to the state’s most densely populated corridor.
A modest “coming soon” sign at 515 Jersey Avenue sprung up last year outside the former home of Ai Pho & Vermicelli. It announced the impending arrival of Efes Mediterranean Grill, a Turkish-themed restaurant that initially launched in New Brunswick over two decades ago.
Efes Mediterranean Grill is a labor of love from the Bodur family, who utilize family recipes that have been passed down through generations at the eatery. The restaurant’s moniker, Efes, comes from the Turkish name for the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, which is now located within modern-day western Turkey.
The Bodur family opened the Nassau Street location of their eatery in Princeton in 2012, garnering a positive review from the New York Times. The restaurant is 100% halal and serves appetizers that include lentil soup and stuffed grape leaves alongside more unique items like mucver, a fried zucchini pancake mashed with herbs, or arnavut cigeri, which is pan-fried liver with onions and lemon.
No Mediterranean experience would be complete without falafel, hummus, and baba ganoush, all of which make an appearance on the menu at Efes. Entrees at the restaurant run from $13 to $30 and consist of platters like a lamb kebab with red bell peppers or a gyro doner complete with ground beef and thinly sliced lamb.
Seafood dishes at the restaurant include a pan-seared tilapia or a shrimp kebab, while vegetarian options like okra casserole in light tomato sauce or spinach manti dumplings with yogurt round out the entrees. Other Efes specialties involve an eggplant-based musakka and a dish dubbed etli bamya, or lamb cubes cooked in tomato sauce with fresh okra.
The restaurant also features some budget-minded lunch, sandwich, and gyro options in addition to desserts like baklava and sutlac, a rice-based pudding. Efes Mediterranean Grill is open for take-out and delivery and orders can be placed through Grub Hub at this link.
Hours of operation at Efes Mediterranean Grill’s Jersey City location currently run from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.