Authentic Turkish Restaurant in Tijuana Gets Creative With Its Take on Birria

There is a new birria (lamb stew) in Tijuana and it is a mix of the flavors of Jalisco, Mexico, with those from Turkey. What else do you need to know?

Well, maybe a little bit of the story behind this.

Located in La Cacho (Madero neighborhood), this dish is the most recent gift to foodies from the El Turco restaurant and its owners Kemal Soylu, a native of Turkey, and his wife, Bertha Alicia Sandoval, a Tijuana native.

Turkish Birria. Photo: SanDiegoRed
Turkish Birria. Photo: SanDiegoRed

"El Turco" is famous for its authentic Turkish cuisine, with fresh and quality ingredients. The presentation of the food is not pretentious at all, and they adapted a house in La Cacho into their restaurant so as to bring their culinary creations to more people and make them feel "at home."

Despite his mission to bring true Turkish cuisine to Tijuana, Kemal likes the fusion of the flavors of his native country and his now adopted one (Mexico), which inspires him to cook special dishes for events or seasons. He has even managed to combine something as Turkish as lamb meat with something as Mexican as huitlacoche.

And precisely, this new Turkish birria is another of these delicious fusions.

Sabah Sabah every Saturday
Sabah Sabah every Saturday

Served in a huge bowl, the restaurant means for a single person to finish this generous portion of tasty and tender lamb meat, but two people could easily eat it and be satisfied.

A piece of Turkey in Tijuana.

Instead of tortillas, there is bread and yogurt served on the side, a traditional side to any Turkish meat dish.

There are lemon and sauces for those who look for that Mexican spicy flavor that many of us can't let go when it comes to birria, but we recommend you to appreciate this Turkish birria on its own, which include pieces of potato like in the traditional Turkish dish of lamb Kuzu güveç.

"Menemen" eggs and beef tongue stew. Photo: SanDiegoRed
"Menemen" eggs and beef tongue stew. Photo: SanDiegoRed

This birria is the main star of Sabah Sabah in El Turco, a special menu offered every Saturday morning from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, where they also serve Dil Çorba (or Çorbasi), a beef tongue stew you'll probably like more than the birria itself, depending your mood.

But let's not forget this is Mexico, so they also offer "menemen" eggs for breakfast, which we could compare with huevos rancheros (eggs soaked in sauce), a popular breakfast dish for Mexicans.

Of course, all of this comes with a cup of American coffee or Turkish tea.

Kemal has been sharing his cooking skills in Mexico for more than seven years, a talent which according to him, is innate in any Turkish.

"Menemen" eggs. Photo: SanDiegoRed
"Menemen" eggs. Photo: SanDiegoRed

Neither he and Bertha ever dreamed of opening a Turkish restaurant in Mexico. But life has taken them to this direction, with their first location being in Playas de Tijuana.

They have moved their business to a new a larger space in Brasil Street in La Cacho , and are currently located on Guanajuato Street. In all that time, they have not stopped offering authenticity, mixing cooking styles from time to time, because at the end of the day, the Turkish owner also came to Mexico to learn new flavors.


"Every house in Turkey has a large kitchen," says Kemal, especially in the center of the country where the weather can get very extreme in summer or winter. Everything is kept in the kitchen for the whole year and most of the time they eat in their homes, so everyone learns to cook, Chef or not.

El Turco is located in Colonia Madero, Calle Guanajuato 2344. Opens Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sundays until 8:00 p.m. Tuesday is closed.

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