Istanbul Travel Guide

Turkey  #8 in Best Cheap European Vacations
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Courtesy of Leonardo Patrizi/Getty Images

What to Eat in Istanbul

Turkish cuisine can be described as a fusion of Middle Eastern, Asian and Mediterranean flavors. In Istanbul in particular, kebabs and mezes (small, tapas-like plates) are well-known and popular. Dishes are generally heavy on meats, beans, fresh vegetables and nuts. Yogurt is also a main component of much Turkish cuisine and can usually be found as a companion to many meat entrees and breads. Street food, including döner (commonly made from lamb meat) and simit (a bagel-like bread that serves as a convenient portable snack), is also very popular among residents and out-of-town visitors. Turkish coffee will keep you going strong for all of the sightseeing, and for dessert, try some Turkish Delight candies.

A wide variety of dining establishments can be found in Istanbul, from high-end restaurants run by well-known chefs to chaotic meyhanes (traditional restaurants and bars in Turkey) and no-frills, hole-in-the-wall kebab joints. Meyhanes are typically loud and boisterous places where alcohol flows along with mezes. While you're here, be sure to try raki, the national licorice-flavored drink made from the anise plant and served with a glass of chilled water. When the two liquids make contact, it forms a milky white color, giving the drink its nickname, aslan sütü (or lion's milk).

For the most authentic experience, avoid the Sultanahmet area. The tourist-heavy neighborhood's restaurants, in general, serve overpriced and mediocre food. Take a short trip on the tram north across the Golden Horn to Beyoglu, where you'll find a mix of simple home cooking, as well as some of the trendiest options in the city. Popular Turkish restaurants in Beyoglu include Babel Cafe & Restaurant, Nicole and Meze by Lemon Tree.

Find the Best Restaurants in Istanbul

  • #1
    Lotiz Lounge & Hookah
    #1 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 468 reviewsTripAdvisor (468)
    $$ |
    Vidinli Tevfik Pasa Cad. No:14 Balabanağa Mahallesi, Istanbul 34134 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #2
    Three Partners Cafe & Restaurant
    #2 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 447 reviewsTripAdvisor (447)
    $ - $$ | Mediterranean, Barbecue, Central Asian
    Kucukayasofya Mahhalesi Kaleci Sokak No 5 Fatih, Istanbul Turkey
    Read More »
  • #3
    Istanbul Kebab Cafe & Restaurant
    #3 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 430 reviewsTripAdvisor (430)
    $ | Seafood, Barbecue, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean
    Divanyolu Caddesi Bickiyurdu sk. Divan center No:5, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #4
    Byzantion Bistro & Restaurant
    #4 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 625 reviewsTripAdvisor (625)
    $ - $$ | Steakhouse, Seafood, Barbecue, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Eastern European
    Ordu Caddesi,Yesil Tulumba Sok, No.9/1 Laleli / Fatih, Istanbul 34134 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #5
    Sultanahmet Ottoman Fish Terrace House
    #5 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 632 reviewsTripAdvisor (632)
    $ - $$ | Seafood, Mediterranean, Turkish
    Cankurtaran mah. Kutlu Gun Sk. No:49, Sultanahmet Istanbul, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #6
    La Romantica Turkish Kitchen
    #6 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 690 reviewsTripAdvisor (690)
    $ - $$ | Seafood, Mediterranean, Turkish, International
    Kucuk Ayasofya mahallesi Mustafapasa sk no 18 Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #7
    Jager Bar by Leo
    #7 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 117 reviewsTripAdvisor (117)
    $ - $$ | Bar, Pizza
    Kucuk Ayasofya Mah. Cayiroglu Sok. No: 32, Istanbul 34400 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #8
    Ast Terrace Restaurant Cafe
    #8 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 212 reviewsTripAdvisor (212)
    $ - $$ | Seafood, International, Mediterranean, Barbecue, European, Turkish
    Kucuk Ayasofya Mahallesi, Kadirga Liman Caddesi, No:137 Ast Hotel, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #9
    Istanbul Anatolian Cuisine
    #9 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 678 reviewsTripAdvisor (678)
    $ - $$ | European, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Seafood, Barbecue
    Kucuk Ayasofya Mah Kadirga Liman Cad Camii Sk 7 Sultanahmet Fatih, Istanbul Turkiye, Istanbul Turkey
    Read More »
  • #10
    Buhara Ocakbasi Restaurant
    #10 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 3484 reviewsTripAdvisor (3484)
    $ - $$ | Seafood
    Alemdar Mah. Nuruosmaniye Cad. No: 7 Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34440 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #11
    Emir Sultan Kebap
    #11 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 271 reviewsTripAdvisor (271)
    $ - $$ | Pizza, Seafood, Mediterranean, Bar, Barbecue, European, Turkish, Pub
    Emin Sinan Mahallesi, Piyer Loti Cd. No: 18 Fatih, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #12
    Antakya Kebap
    #12 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 99 reviewsTripAdvisor (99)
    $ - $$ | Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Barbecue, Turkish
    Asmali Mescit Mah. Asmali Mescit Sok. No: 17/C Beyoglu, Istanbul 34421 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #13
    Kucukoglu Barbecue Restaurant
    #13 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 1566 reviewsTripAdvisor (1566)
    $ - $$ | Mediterranean, Barbecue, Turkish, Grill
    Prof. Kazim Ismail Gurkan cd. no:2 kat:2 Alemdar Mh, Istanbul 34110 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #14
    Miran Nargile Cafe
    #14 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 90 reviewsTripAdvisor (90)
    $ | Cafe, Bar, Turkish, Pub, Wine Bar
    Alemdar Mahallesi Bickiyurdu sk. no 6 Divan center, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #15
    Seher Kebab Meat House
    #15 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 357 reviewsTripAdvisor (357)
    $ - $$ | Barbecue, Turkish
    Ibni Kemal Cd. no.18 Hoca paşa mahalesi, Istanbul 34110 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #16
    By Kinyas Restaurant
    #16 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 247 reviewsTripAdvisor (247)
    $$ | Seafood, Mediterranean, Turkish, Healthy
    Kutlugun Sokak No:4 Cankurtaran Mah., Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #17
    Hanzade Terrace Restaurant
    #17 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 721 reviewsTripAdvisor (721)
    $ | Seafood, Barbecue, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Grill
    Emin Sinan Mah. Piyer Loti Cad. No: 35 Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34126 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #18
    Mesopotamian Terrace Restaurant
    #18 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 222 reviewsTripAdvisor (222)
    $ | Mediterranean, Turkish, Middle Eastern
    Akbiyik Cd, Kutlugun Sk. No.23 Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34400 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #19
    Mivan Restaurant Cafe
    #19 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 471 reviewsTripAdvisor (471)
    $ - $$ | Mediterranean, Turkish, European, Middle Eastern, Soups, Cafe
    Piyerloti Caddesi No: 34 Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34126 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #20
    Lale Sultan Restaurant
    #20 of 16,506 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 308 reviewsTripAdvisor (308)
    $ - $$ | Mediterranean, Barbecue, European, Turkish, Steakhouse
    Kadirga Limani Caddesi No 108, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »

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