Country of Origin: Turkey
Locations Worldwide: Four in Turkey and the US
NYC Locations: One near the United Nations and one in JFK
Like Juan Valdez Cafe, Turkish chain Eat & Go has an airport presence as well as one Midtown location. Situated in a small greenhouse-like structure in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, it's not immediately obvious that overgrown kiosk is anything more than a standard café. It's not until the word Istanbul and the charmingly awkward slogan "Superior Food by Dessertist" comes into view that the stand's foreign origin becomes apparent.
At first glance, the menu feels conflicted. Above the grill, there's a sign for both döner and hamburger and the glass cases display baklava as well as muffins, croissants, and brownies. No one would stop you from ordering a chicken Caesar salad or turkey wrap, but that would defeat the purpose of visiting this Turkish/American hybrid.
Savory phyllo-based pastries would make a better snack or light meal, though you must possess a Popeye-level love of spinach to enjoy the dense gül börek ($3.75). The spiral confection didn't appear to be mixed with cheese or any other distractions beyond salt and the sesame seeds on its surface. The saline greens played such a dominant role that they almost came across as seaweedy—not an unpleasant flavor, just unexpected.
Where the gül börek was stuffed to the gills, the gölzleme put more emphasis on the wrapper. The thin, pliable pastry, kind of a cross between a flour tortilla and a crepe, was presumably griddled at one point (the pre-made food here is simply warmed once ordered). Krymali, pictured, is filled with a thin layer of ground beef and chopped parsley. Spinach and cheese varieties are also sold. The flavor was a little bland and doughy for my taste. (Luckily, I keep a container of Sriracha in my desk drawer. Maybe you do, too?)
If anything, I would recommend Eat & Go's intensely sweet desserts. The flaky, pistachio-crammed baklava ($1.50) is tasty and the ideal-for-sharing, square kadayif ($5.25) has a great texture, from its pecan pie-like gooey center to its crunchy noodley top.
Definitely a fast-food stop, Eat & Go isn't quite a dining destination, but could make a fine place for a snack (particularly when the warmer weather outdoor seating is brought out) if you happen to be near the United Nations. The only trouble is that the superior Güllüoglu is just six blocks away.
Eat & Go
JFK Airport, Terminal 1, Jamaica NY 11430 (map) 718-751-2824