Dining Out


Dining Out

The best restaurants of the city are located in Galata, Uskudar, Bakirkoy, Kadikoy, Nisantasi, Kumkapi and Anadoluhisari. Along the Bosporus shore of European part in Istanbul there are many restaurants that you can enjoy the fabulous Bosporus view. You can have the best experience of Turkish foods in Lokantas, Meyhanes and Ottoman style restaurants that the locals frequent. Sultanahmet is one of the most popular sites in Istanbul but unfortunately it has the least impressive range of eating options in Istanbul. Absolutely the best is a spending time in a meyhane on Nevizade Sokak (street) or in Asmalimescit quarter or dining at any restaurants on the Bosporus. Samatya has the best kebab restaurants; Eminonu is the best place for fresh fish because local fishermen come at the end of the day to sell the catch of the day here and it can be your most memorable time eating the famous Balik Ekmek (Turkish Fish Sandwich) beside the sea. In Eminonu fishermen built grills and fryers right in their boats, built fires in them, grilled fish fillets, stuffed them in half a loaf of bread and handed from the boat to thousands of hungry, thrifty Istanbullus every day till midnight. It can be old-fashioned and romantic fast fish meat experience in Istanbul.

Restaurants in Istanbul are always full of large groups sharing mezes, conversations and belly laughs generally over a bottle of national alcohol drink Raki. Turkish people have breakfast usually between 6am and 8am, lunch at midday, dinner any time after 6pm. Restaurants serve until midnight. 

Next to ferries or bus stations or on busy streets and squares you can see vendors. They do sell simit, roasted corn, midye dolma (stuffed mussels), pilav (rice and chickpeas), kokorec (lamb’s intestines cooked with spices and herbs) and cig kofte (raw meatball) etc...

As you visit different areas of Turkey, there are local specialities which must be eaten in their home region to be fully appreciated. Bursa for its Iskender Kebab, Gaziantep for its pistachio nuts, the Black Sea for hamsi (fried anchovies) and corn bread and the Syrian borderlands (Urfa and Adana) for spicy shish kebabs. It is possible to find all these types in Istanbul. 

Restaurants are called either lokanta or restoran. As menus are not a Turkish tradition, they are found only in tourist areas. Kebab houses are everywhere and Turkish pizza is called pide and lahmacun is a kinf of pide topped with mincemeat, onion and tomatoes.

A meal usually starts with a selection of mezes from an enormous and very colourful platter. Cold mezes include stuffed mussels, pureed aubergine salad, stuffed vine leaves etc. Among the selection of hot mezes are usually borek, sautéed lamb's liver with onions, kalamari etc. 

Main courses are generally fish or meat kebabs. The spices and herbs used to delicately flavour the meat vary from region to region. The eating of fish has an elevated. It is the best eaten by the sea, preferably Kumkapi, Anadoluhisari always accompanied by raki. It may include bluefish (lufer), turbot (kalkan) or lobster (istakoz) etc.

The staple of lunch time cafeterias is signifying tasty vegetable and meat-based stews. Turkish drinking culture is the all-night iskembe parlor. It is considered medicinal after a night in the city, with crushed garlic from a bowl, red pepper, oregano and vinegar. 

For a wider selection of sweets try the pastane, where you'll find all the traditional Turkish sweets such as lokum, baklava, halva and asure (traditionally held to contain the forty different ingredients left in the Ark's kitchen when Noah sighted Ararat). Sutlac, or rice pudding, is also popular. The dessert is often a beautifully presented selection. In spring this may be green almonds and plums, generally an acquired taste for foreigners. There are strawberries in May, cherries in June, melons in July and August and apples, pears and pomegranates in autumn. Winter is the time for Turkish-grown citrus fruits.