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Istanbul Mediterranean Restaurant 

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If you can survive the traffic on death-defying Highway 10, there's no better place in town for a bulging, savory gyros sandwich than this Pleasant Ridge cafe. In spare, but modern and comfortable surroundings, you are served heaping portions of all the standards -- chickpea dip, eggplant dip, yogurt-cucumber dip, stuffed grape leaves, phyllo pastry stuffed with cheese and fried, spinach-and-cheese pastries and grilled meats. The names might be a little different. Nothing is called gyros, for example, but the juicy slices of seasoned beef and lamb stuffed in a pillowy soft, warm pita round with tomato, grilled onions and the yogurt sauce (known here as cacik) should be familiar to all. Another worthy sandwich is kofte: four moist and spicy meatballs replace the sliced beef and lamb for another filling lunch. Sandwiches cost around $8, not cheap, but not bad when you consider their size and the huge accompanying mound of french fries. About the fries: They are as close as we've come in Little Rock to classic European frites. They are fairly thick, but fried crisp, probably from a double frying, with a perfect soft core. A true pleasure. A lighter lunch delight is a Mediterranean salad (including feta, onion and kalamata olives) adorned with the "doner" meat — the spit-roasted beef and lamb or chicken. Sure there's baklava. And Turkish coffee. Pleasant Ridge Town Center, 11525 Cantrell Road. 223-9932 $ LD CC No alcohol.

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