Savoring the local cuisine immediately immerses you in your surroundings. As we enrich our lives with travel experiences we remember 'what we ate' as much as we remember 'what we saw'. Foodies of every kind will find something of interest in Turkey, be it the ubiquitous simit from a street seller, fresh meze and raki at a waterside eatery or sampling a degustation menu at one if Istanbul's top restaurants.
DINING EXPERIENCES IN TURKEY
Pick a popular local restaurant and load up your table with an assortment of meze (cold starters), followed by simply grilled fish and fresh seasonal fruit. The perfect drink to accompany your meal is raki, an anise flavored aperitif made from distilled grapes.
Book ahead to secure table at one of these popular local restaurants. Korfez, on the Asian shoreline can be reached by private boat, reserve a table on their waterside terrace. Doga Balik, delicious meze and fresh seafood choices in the bohemian neighborhood of Cihangir. Balikci Sabahattin, charming al fresco setting in the Old City.
In Turkey a kebab is more than just a meat sandwich! Try the mouthwatering dishes originating from Southeast Anatolia. Kebabs are often richly flavored with spices, herbs and nuts, and served with pilaf (rice) and grilled vegetables. A refreshing drink to accompany your kebab meal is ayran, a beverage made from yogurt and water, sometimes seasoned with salt.
Some of these restaurants are Istanbul institutions and not to be missed. Hamdi, serves deluxe kebabs from south east Turkey, wonderful desserts and a great view across the Golden Horn. Kosebasi, classic kebabs in restaurants located in Levent, Nisantasi and Reina Nightclub. Konyali 1897, a newcomer in the trendy Akaretler Row, great food and great setting.
Anatolian village cuisine
An invitation into a village home is the perfect way to experience genuine Turkish hospitality. The lady of the house is your host and will prepare a simply cooked meal from local seasonal produce. We never know what is on the menu but we can guarantee it will be fresh, tasty and leave a lasting impression. If you have the opportunity to try Turkish coffee do so, if you are lucky there might be a village girl nearby who can read your fortune in the left-over coffee grounds.
Alternatively, these restaurants specialize in mouth-watering authentic local dishes. Ciya, serves rare rural dishes from recipes painstakingly gathered from Anatolian villages. Located in Kadikoy on the Asian side of the city, worth crossing continents for. The Olive Garden (Camlibel village), nestled on the slopes of Ida Mountain amongst olive orchards, the Olive Garden serves delicious Aegean dishes prepared with wild herbs and locally grown olive oil. Somine (Cappadocia), located in the heart of Urgup, serves great local food in a cozy atmosphere, try the Testi Kebab slow cooked in a sealed clay pot.
Dine in style
Istanbul is buzzing with stylish restaurants serving international and fusion cuisine; here the experience is enhanced by spectacular views, inspired interiors, cool cocktail bars and glamorous urbanites. The Turkish vinicultural scene has recently undergone a resurgence, don't be shy to try some wonderful Turkish wine with your meal, brands to lookout for are Doluca, Kavaklidere and Corvus.
There is no shortage of chic restaurants, these are some of our favorites. Mikla, serves Mediterranean fusion cuisine in a sophisticated atmosphere with incredible city views. 360 Istanbul, great buzz, trendy bar scene and fabulous city views. Sunset, is noted for impeccable service and wonderful Bosphorus views, possibly the most diverse menu in the city: Turkish, Californian and Asian.
On the street
Italy has pizza and America has the hotdog, in Turkey the most popular street food is a simit, a bread ring coated with sesame seeds. Choose your simit from a vendor with large quantity, this indicates he has recently restocked and yours will be fresh. The perfect drink to accompany your simit? A delicate tulip shaped glass of Turkish tea of course!
DINING AREAS TO EXPLORE IN ISTANBUL
Sofyali Street in the Tunel area. A vibrant area with a variety of bars, cafes and restaurants. Try Refiks or Sofyali for great meyhane atmosphere.
Flower Passage opposite the Galatasaray High School on Istiklal Street, a mix of traditional Turkish restaurants in an elegant glass enclosed alleyway.
French Street is located behind the Galatasaray High School, here you find a mix of restaurants, cafes and wine bars cascading down a colorful street.
Nevizade Street tucked away behind the Flower Passage. A bustling street filled with bars and restaurants favored by a young crowd. The pick of the bunch is Imroz Restaurant, the oldest meyhane in Istanbul.
Ortakoy is nestled beneath the first Bosphorus Bridge and has a wonderful collection of cafes and laid-back restaurants, great location for Sunday brunch.
Nisantasi is fashion central in Istanbul, refuel at a trendy cafe or brasserie restaurant.
Contact us for restaurant suggestions...