John Curtas is …

IBO TURKISH & MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT & BAR (Whew!)

If IBO makes it, it’ll be a miracle. The place is too big, overbuilt by half, too fancy for the food and frustratingly difficult to find the front door of. The cooking didn’t exactly knock our socks off either.

Perhaps its location is the problem — as it occupies a corner of that gargantuan, cluster-f*ck of malls and big box stores occupying about ten thousand acres of the southwest side of Flamingo and the 215.

Here is but a short list of things ELV would feel better about compared to this place’s chances for survival:

- Having a radiologist exclaim: “Very interesting….” after looking at his CAT scan;

- Having Mike Tyson date his sister;

- Having Pete Rose named Major League Baseball’s Commissioner of Ethics;

- Trusting Lindsay Lohan to hold his stash of blow for the weekend;

-Watching Hilary Clinton take the reins as Secretary of State;

-Having Michael Jackson move into his neighborhood and right across the street from an elementary school.*

(*Wait! That actually happened! So far, so good….but you get the point.)

When you drive around one of these behemoth shopping “centers” with their endless “pads” and “islands,” confusion and ugliness, and you realize all the graft and corruption that went into paying off our Clark County Commission to get places like this built — you can practically hear Erin Kenney slurping and swallowing her way through another fund “raising” session with the fat cats that kept her in office so they could build these monstrosities.

Bitter? You betcha!

All of this is by way of saying: any restaurant located in these environs has a couple of strikes against it before ELV even leaves the house.

But truck up there we did, through the maze of parking lots and fluorescent lights, unobservable addresses and sensory overload, just so we could try the newest thing in Mediterranean food in our valley.

Needless to say at this point, we were underwhelmed.

A grainy, lukewarm, red lentil soup of no discernible flavor started things off, followed by a meze platter of pretty decent hummus, well-spiced eggplant salads, and (too cold) stuffed grape leaves — all of which had clearly been waiting in the fridge for hours.

The kasarli kofte (spiced ground beef with kasseri cheese) tasted like warmed-over, well-done hamburgers of no particular breeding, and the coffee was pedestrian (and none too hot).

The whole kit and kaboodle kame to $65 (including tip) and gave us not one good reason to return. If the place is still in operation a year from now, we might.

IBO TURKISH & MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT & BAR

9755 West Flamingo Road

Las Vegas, NV 89147

702.365.6111

www.ibovegas.com

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50 Responses to IBO TURKISH & MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT & BAR (Whew!)

  • My Turkish mom should open a restaurant.. even though they say the owner is Turkish and the chef is Turkish.. all the Turkish people I have heard visited the place are so disappointed. There are some really good examples of Turkish food but in Vegas unfortunately for our community they are all in the homes of little old Turkish ladies…

  • John Curtis-
    Your reputation is harsh, arrogant, self-centered, narcissitic! All of these makes you forget to be a human being. If you knew one ioda about Turkish food your comments would be much more pleasant and humanly in this economic tough time for everyone. Your article shows your ignorance. You eat meat and potatoes, you understand how much butter is put into any sauce to make “it taste good.” It shows you do not know the first thing about Turkish food and the taste or the flavors. Your radio show sucked and failed. With your radio show your political career was garbage as well. You sound like a bitter, miserable, sorry human being. Perhaps the food was not free, therefore it was not to your liking.

  • au contere, John’s radio appearances are a rare treat, and this website is a real gem. As for his reviews, they are helpful and entertaining. Keep up the great work ELV!

  • john I am traveling, so I can´t argue for this place, but like our colleague who shall remain unnamed, you managed to review an ethnic cuisine and not eat even one of the important dishes that define it, such as manti, mucver or sigara borek. (or at least you didn´t write about any of them). I do consulting on the side, if you want to talk more about this. Your friend, Max

  • John,
    Just tried IBO Turkish & Mediterranean Restaurant last night and absolutely loved it. Having experienced food from around the world, particularly the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions, IBO is very much the “real thing”.
    Your review couldn’t be further from the truth.

  • We’ll take other’s word for it that the kitchen skill is higher than we experienced. But the first duty of a restaurant is to make you want to come back again….and after four items that were perfunctorily cooked (at best), and all at the wrong temperature, ELV isn’t looking forward to a return trip, no matter what specialty is being cooked.

    And regards the comment by Max (Son of Jacob): any critique of any cuisine can always be argued with by saying: “You didn’t try the _________? Well, THAT’S the true test of this sort of restaurant….”

  • John,

    Rather harsh of you slam a new restaurant after only trying a couple of dishes. In my opionon IBO is a breath of fresh air, the food is authentic and they are the only Turkish restaurant in this town. Turks take great pride in their cuisine. Im sure once this place gets up and running it will be a popular restaurant as well as hangout-spot now that Sapporos is not there anymore.

  • And Donna is right about these Middle Eastern cuisines: the best versions (Turkish, Greek, Lebanese, etc.) tend to be made in the houses of immigrants — not restaurants. There’s not a Greek restaurant in town that can hold a candle to what my Greek thias (aunts) cook daily in their homes.

  • I’ll be trying IBO this week and will weigh in…I’m no expert on Turkish food, and unlike Max can’t even name a single regional dish, but I’ll leave it up to my waitstaff to deliver the most authentic Turkish meal they can and then see if I like what is served or not. That’s the best way I can think to judge a place when I’m really not sure what the cuisine is all about…

  • whoever wrote this review is obviously blindsided by his own ignorance! I am not sure what he was trying to say by mixing politic, stars and food. And talking about blow, you need to slow down on it. It’s turning you in a slfe centered arrogant son of $%@#$

  • We had a dinner at IBO and it was very GOOD! It doesn’t match what you have experienced or you don’t have any knowledge of Turkish cuisine.
    We had mixed appetizer plater, three different meals, baklava and concluded our evening with Turkish coffee. The place was almost full and the service was excellent, very friendly which reflects the Turkish hospitality.
    Ordering “Kasarli Kofte” and comparing it as a hamburger tells me a lot about your culinary experience. You should have tried “Lamb Shank”, or “Karniyarik” or “Manti” to get an understanding of this Turkish kitchen.

  • Back in 1975 I spent 15 months in Ankara Turkey when I was stationed there. Ever since then I have been on the hunt for Iskendar Kebab and have not found any place to get it. I would kill for some. And of course Ibo does not serve it… Not even sure they know what it is.. LOL

    It is such a simple dish and no one serves it…man … I doubt I will be going there to try out the restaurant since they do not serve it. If they did, I would be there at least once a week…

    Anyone out there know where I can get some Iskendar Kebab? Please!!!

  • Am I the only one so busy rolling on the floor laughing about the Erin Kenney “Public Service” comment that I can’t even think about food? Hilarious!
    Your review was a bit harsh John. I will try it for myself and see. I have many friends from the region and they all love it!
    and…Walt…maybe you could ask them if they could make Iskendar Kebab special for you and add it to the menu, then you would have a place to get it and they would have a regular customer???….Just a thought…It never hurts to ask.

  • I finally ventured to IBO and checked it out for lunch and all-in-all it was pretty good – a solid 7 on the food alone. We tried the manti, fried stuffed eggplant, chicken soup, grilled octopus salad and for dessert the poached stuffed apricots and what the waitress referred to as their version of a creme brulee. All in all, we enjoyed almost everything. The manti were delicate, flavorful and unlike anything else we’d ever tasted even if they were a little under seasoned. The octopus salad and chicken soup were outstanding – the smokiness of the grilled octopus was a perfect balance to the somewhat spicy and tangy vinaigrette (even the out-of-season tomatoes were bright and flavorful and I’m not a huge tomato guy). The stuffed eggplant wasn’t very good – and I think it’s because they fry the eggplant and it came out heavy and greasy. Plus the filling was a blander version of what my mom used to use to use inside her stuffed zucchini dish and like the manti, was under seasoned. For dessert, the stuffed apricots (what they call creme fraiche) in syrup are outstanding and the kazandibi (really like a firm vanilla pudding) was also very good. We ordered the Turkish coffee…and won’t ever do that again mainly because if you’ve never had it it’s like drinking mud.

    My main complaint is a simple but telling one. There were two of us and we wanted to sample a handful of dishes to get a more complete experience. We asked if the kitchen could split the chicken soup into two bowls – what we thought was a pretty fair request. We were told by our server that the kitchen “hates” when they make special requests and she wasn’t sure if they would oblige. We ordered it that way anyway, hoping they would just put the soup into two bowls, but unfortunately it came out in just one bowl with two spoons. The server said because the restaurant was so busy that the kitchen just didn’t want to take the time to accommodate our request. For the record – we were one of about 7 tables inside the place – they were not slammed.

    It was a little thing – but one my dining companion and I couldn’t believe. As a former line cook, who received countless special requests during my time on the line, it’s not that hard to ladle two half-filled bowls of soup. It’s not like we asked them to take the rice or chicken out before serving it to us. I’ll go back and give the place another shot, because the food was mostly solid and satisfying. But considering the times we are currently facing, you’d think restaurants would be bending over backwards and granting reasonable customer requests to ensure happiness and repeat business.

  • John,

    Interesting that you spent 75% of your column criticizing the location, surrounding architecture, and silly jokes to get a laugh and only 25% talking about pedestrian items like coffee. I would expect a food critique such as yourself to tell me more about the subtleties of this cuisine and how perhaps they missed their mark on key food items for this type of cooking as the other readers commented on.

    First off, I’m an international consultant and have been in most major cities in this great country of ours, as well as abroad. I’ve tried all the best eateries in Chicago, New York, Seattle, Paris, Luxembourg and many more. In your report, you even criticized that IBO’s is “too fancy for the food”.. is that a bad thing that the owner wants to have a nice dining atmosphere for his customers? I did not hear any comments on your wine selection or did you not order wine?

    My better half and I have been going to Ibo’s weekly now for the past month. We go there because we enjoy the service from the staff as well as the hospitality of Ibo himself. This man is classy and makes his customers feel welcome. The bar area is always hopping with people having a nice time. The dining room is elegantly decored. We’ve tried several items on the menu and we already have several favorites.. and yes.. we like the lentil soup.. we love the donar and several of the grilled Turkish specialties. Ibo’s price is quite reasonable considering the atmosphere, food quality and definately the service we get. I’ll write more but we have reservations tonite at guess where?

    I will appreciate your review more if you focused on the cuisine rather than mundane issues that the restaurant has nothing to do with let alone have control of. Please spare us your rantings on how you dislike shopping malls because that does not interest us one bit.

    Cordially,
    Dan

  • Nice restaurant!

  • It’s very said to see a beautiful restaurant with great wait staff go to waste.
    The food was ridiculously over priced, especially for lunch. I still wanted to go because I love Turkish food and was excited to see a Turkish restaurant open in Vegas. As it is today, I don’t expect them to keep their doors open for long. Speaking of doors, my husband and I almost left because we could locate the front door!
    We ordered one appetizer and two main dishes. The appetizer was good – the Manti (I believe it was called) ground meat stuff dumplings with yogurt. Kebob Palace (Tropicana/Rainbow) makes it much better. The lamb was HORRIBLE! Absolutely the worst. It literally smelled like a goat. This was definitely not a prime cut. My husband ate the mashed potatoes that came with it but that was it. That was really the only excellent thing we had but mashed potatoes will never make a restaurant.
    I had a version of a chicken kebob which looked (color wise) and tasted like a hot dog. I’m already not a big fan of hot dogs especially when it’s supposed to be a kebob. Nothing really had enough flavor. I know Turkish food and ‘flavorless’ is not a word that comes to mind. I actually came in wanting some good mousakka but the waitress had no idea what it was. How in the hell can you call yourself a Turkish restaurant and not have mousakka?! That’s crazy.
    Because my husband didn’t eat any of his, they gave us 20% off. Awesome. $8 off something that cost $19. I guess they figured they should get what they could since they knew they would never, ever see us again. The couple next to us will also never be back – we could hear them complain to the waitress.
    Ultimately, we should have left when we came in for lunch on Saturday and only saw two tables occupied. Why it is so difficult to find a decent cook for such a beautiful restaurant? I make kebobs and it’s really not that difficult. It’s probably one of the easier things to make. Overall, completely bypass this restaurant and go to the complete opposite side of town and go to Royal Persis. It’s a Persian restaurant but it’s been around forever for a reason. Excellent kebobs, hummus, pita, rice, service and atmosphere. I don’t like to use the word ‘hate’ about anything but I’m really close to that with IBO. I hate to see a waste of good space and money. As my father-in-law says, ‘sometimes God gives nuts to those with no teeth’. Definitely goes for this restaurant. And one more thing, play TURKISH music for God’s sake – not Arabic. If the key is to be authentic, shouldn’t that be the first thing?

  • I am a regular customer at IBO and happen to be middle eastern. The atmosphere is outstanding. The food is amazing! The hospitality is off the charts! I agree that it is a breath of fresh air to the community. IBO’s is pure class. Obviously something that John Curtas knows nothing about. Bravo to the fellow bloggers that choose to experience it themselves and not take some no class asses word for it. As far as you dumb bastards that cannot seem to find the front door, perhaps you should stay home, therefore you do not spread your misery, stupidity, and ignorance to others out to enjoy this wonderful restaurant! I give IBO’s five stars and two thumbs up. And by the way Pat-there is no turkish waitress, she is from Croatia. Maybe you should also get your facts straight before speaking out of turn.

  • Seems like there must be a lot of us that can’t find the front door…I went back for lunch recently at 12:15pm was one of three tables there. That’s not a criticism, it’s a fact, and I’m one of those that actually enjoys the food. I hope I never bump into you there, Jack, you seem like a pretty hostile guy.

  • I went to IBO for New Years and I thought the food was wonderful – My boyfriend is from Turkey and he was very excited to have a Turkish restaurant here in Las Vegas….IBO himself was very pleasant – he was very friendly to my child and for me that is a huge plus – they treated my 2 year old as if he were a person unlike some restaurants that frown when you walk through the door with your child – I think that some of these comments are wrong…This place is wonderful and the food is wondeful – Maybe because the food is healthy some don’t like that – the’d rather have food full of trans fat…This is a wonderful place and I’d recommend it to anyone…By the way – The belly dancers were beautiful! THANK YOU IBO!

  • OOOOH – I forgot to mention that the front door is not hard to find – It’s the one opposite of the back door!!!! It is actually a very nice entrance…we could all use a little extra excercise…CALM DOWN!!!! IBO IS WONDERFUL!!!!

  • ibo is great place! John and people who share same opinion with him are stupid!
    go eat a hamburger,you stupid idiots! you dont know anything about turkish food and tradition!

  • I think I’ll take your advice, sevi, and skip Ibo next time I want a satisfying lunch and get a hamburger instead. Being the stupid idiot I am, I can’t think of a more satisfying meal than a perfectly cooked burger.

  • I watched Ibo being built and was looking forward to trying Turkish food ; I don’t know anything about it but at least it’s not Italian or Mexican. ( sick to death of both). The service was absolutely the best I’ve experienced in years; freindly, attentive without being annoying and our waiter in particular was flawless. I like Lamb and mine was cooked to perfection, was it authentic, I don’t know but I will be back for more. My wife and I also enjoyed appetizers and two different desserts and our overall opinion was the food is excellent. We will definitely return. I think that John is much like a movie critic; his writing is good for an occasional chuckle but not to be taken seriously. Like a psychic ” for entertainment purposes only”.

  • This just in… Ibo is no longer open for lunch. Reduction of hours is never a good sign for any business, much less a restaurant. Overbuilt, overstaffed, and poorly located are never good things either. I wish them all the luck in the world (except my luck, they can’t have mine, I need it). In other words, all of the Ibo supporters who read this blog better be there every night from now on if they want it to succeed.

  • I just moved to Las Vegas. After traveling to Istanbul for business for years, I know the Turkish cuisine very well.

    The food at IBOs restaurant was good, it wasn’t great. But lets face it, this is a TURKISH restaurant in Las Vegas people. It is something unique to try and enjoy. I think that the atmosphere is great for a night out with your date or family.

    The Turkish Cousine isn’t for everyone. If someone happened to go there and didn’t enjoy the food. It is most likely because they are not accustomed to the type of food.

  • Ok, that’s it.. I’m just going to bring Mom in, take notes and write what she says. If anyone knows Turkish cooking it’s her. (Seriously, she born and raised in Istanbul and cooking, eating and learning about food are her passions) I’m crossing my fingers because I really want a place I can go to and get some Turkish food without making Mom have to cook for me… (I can’t wait to try the manti!!! woo hooo)

    I do have to say though, I did go to the bar the other night hoping to hear some Turkish music and to do some dancing and lo and behold, they no longer play Turkish music. It seems there isn’t a market for it… so sad!

  • Oh and I forgot to say, those of you who are rude and angry… you might want to get some therapy for that problem.

  • I think the food and the atmosphere at Ibo is Outstanding!!! Ibo and his staff provide the best value for your money. They also have an excellent music duo playing the most romantic music in the dining room. They played piano and guitar, It added so much to our dining experience. My husband and I REALLY enjoyed our entire evening at IBO and plan on telling all of our friends and returning.

  • Is this place still even open?

  • I went to this restaurant with my wife a couple of weeks ago and I have to say that it isn’t anything that will blow you away. The food wasn’t bad, but the service we received was just horrible. Our server Abel was just terrible and doesn’t need to be working in this restaurant. If they are really trying to make this seem like some fine dining restaurant then they definitely need to hire some better help. Our busser was much more helpful than the server, we even had to ask him what our servers name was because he didn’t even have the manners to introduce himself. I have been to many fine dining restaurants and I would have to say that this some of the worst service I’ve received. I’d go to Ihop if I wanted to be treated like that. Overall I highly doubt we will be going back, any other Mediterranean place will be just fine.

  • Yep the place is still open indeed! They have a very nice lunch special. You get to pick out a salad an appetizer and a main course I believe for $10. My dad and I make sure to stop by atleast once a week becuase we enjoy the food and the atmosphere. For those of you who commented on the service I have to say everytime I go there the staff is very friendly and the service is excellent. They have a bellydancer once or twice a week also I think. I m sure this place will be the new in-spot in about 6 months.

  • Is it true that Mel Gibson will be there next weekend signing autographed copies of gallipoli?

  • Re: # 12 Walt Zumbrennen Says: Anyone out there know where I can get some Iskendar Kebab?

    Hey Walt, I spent 6 of the best years of my life throughout Turkiye and Iskendar Kebab was my favorite dish. There are variations of how to prepare Iskendar kebab, (chicken, beef, traditional lamb) but its basically grilled meat over a bed of fresh pita’s with a tomato puree, plain yogurt, olive oil, parsley and melted butter drizzled over the top. Of course it’s difficult replicate in Las Vegas, but maybe IBO can add it to the menu.

    The term “Iskendar” comes from the Persian translation for Alexander the Great; which by legend, was also his favorite dish… afiyet olsun

  • I am moving back to Vegas with my Turkish husband and we can’t wait to try Ibo!!!

  • A sign of a good food critic iS people writing in cursing at them for being honest. I would prefer you be honest than pull punches.
    Even if you end up being wrong once in a while.

    Never sell out. NEVER.

  • “Please spare us your rantings on how you dislike shopping malls because that does not interest us one bit.”
    -Dan the “international consutant”

    Dear dan,
    I for one AM interested in J.C.’s opinion of shopping malls.
    “STRIP MALLS” in Vegas suck. A world traveler such as yourself should know.

  • This article is doesn’t help much in learning about this restuarant or it’s food. I didn’t learn anything about it except the arthur John Curtas comes across as a bitter old man.

    Re: # 12 Walt Zumbrennen Says: Anyone out there know where I can get some Iskendar Kebab?

    Walt, I was also in Ankara, Turkey in the 70′s and 80′s. I went to George C. Marshal High there. I absolutely LOVE Iskendar Kebab and have gone through the same thing you have. I have looked everywhere for it. My siblings have as well. I’ve tried to make it before and ….no way…not even close. I did go back to Turkey to visit and got to eat it again and I about melted. Yes, for sure if IBO added this to their menu it would be awesome. I eat food from all different parts of the world and Iskendar Kebab would have to be one of my favorites.

  • Come to think of it, Arthur John Curtas probably IS a bitter old man….whoever he is.

  • “I for one AM interested in J.C.’s opinion of shopping malls.
    “STRIP MALLS” in Vegas suck. A world traveler such as yourself should know.” —from Chris G

    Actually Chris, the “Strip Mall” concept is more of an American creation (Canada included) since we have an abundance of space. Also, the last time I checked, this website is titled “Eating Las Vegas”, not “Shopping Las Vegas”, so stop being so smug and being an ass.

  • IBO’s was by far the best Med. food I have tried…and their steak is fantastic as well…something for everyone. I’ve been in twice now and had a great experience both times! I’m no critic…Thank God!!!! Thus I’m no bitter human being…just have great taste in food and IBO’s hits the spot…try it for yourself!

  • John Curtis,
    You couldn’t be more off the mark then this critique. My family and I dine at Ibo’s Turkish and Steak House twice a month with never a problem. The service is fabulous; the food is high quality and consistant; and the atmosphere is international. I have had 2 major events there and all I had to do was choose my dress. Ibo made me look like the hostess with the mostest! You owe the man an apology as you critique is not very professional.

    I encourage everyone to try this local establishment with the international flavor!

  • I agree with Tina. John owes Ibo an apology for his very unkind and unfair remarks of this wonderfully pleasant restaurant. We had dinner there just last Thur and the food was superb as always! They expanded their steak menu offerings and it was fabulous! We need more restaurants like Ibo in this great city.. one that offers great food value for the money, warm service and a very nice atmosphere to match!

    Also, for those few who found it difficult to find the restaurant, they finally opened some parking spaces right at the front, so no more excuses! :)

  • Turkish food and turkish cuisine is one of the best food in the world. You should of course go to Turkey to eat the best and very authentic turkish food. Kofte,baklava, pide,doner, siskebab, karni yarik, manti, tarhana corbasi,turkish coffee or ayran etc. I have not tried Ibos yet but i have heard good things about it, sure will try it out soon.

  • I wouldn’t expect a different review from a guy who has greek thias, this review is the same biased bs from greeks… Dan said the best 75% of your review is surroundings and 25% small items. We went there and the food was delicious, and very reasonably priced ($20so for steak! which was AMAZING), the owner was very courteous going from table to table talking to customers, and the place was extremely elegant. Who says all the classy restaurants have to be on the strip? At Ibo we got the same quality service as the strip with half the price!

  • My husband and I love Turkish food. So we were highly disappointed to go to Ibo for Valentine’s Day and find out that they have eliminated almost all of the Turkish item from their menu to focus on steak and seafood. My husband had a rainbow trout that was horrible and had already had the skin removed prior to serving. I had a chicken dish that was mediocre at best. The hummus was alright and I enjoyed the lentil soup. However, the service was terrible. We sat there with empty and dirty appetizer plates and soup bowls in front of us until our entree arrived over an hour after ordering it. I don’t think they would have cleared them away at that time except I said something about them. Our server took our order and then never came back until we were done eating. We eat out extensively and this was only the second time in my husband’s life that he left absolutely no tip. I expect this restaurant to be out of business before the end of the year. Which will be no loss to the Las Vegas dining community.

  • Owner is an arrogant creep at best. Very disappointing

  • it is a very nice restaurant.add restaurant

  • Gee, not one person who vilified ELV for his predictions bothered to let us know it had closed. We cruised by last week (for dinner, to give it another shot) and found out the hard way.

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