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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
    Divella Bistro Restaurant
    #1 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 704 reviewsTripadvisor (704)
    $ - $$ | Italian, Steakhouse, Seafood, Mediterranean, Turkish, Healthy
    Cankurtaran Mah. AkbIyIk Cad. Adliye sok. No:11/A, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #2
    Last Ottoman Cafe & Restaurant
    #2 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 202 reviewsTripadvisor (202)
    $ - $$ | Barbecue, Turkish, Seafood, Mediterranean, Grill
    Hocapasa mah. Darussaade Sokak No 10, Istanbul 34110 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #3
    Three Partners Cafe & Restaurant
    #3 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 920 reviewsTripadvisor (920)
    $ - $$ | Cafe, Seafood, Mediterranean, Barbecue, Turkish, Healthy, Middle Eastern, Central Asian
    Kucukayasofya Mahhalesi Kaleci Sokak No 5 Fatih, Istanbul Turkey
    Read More »
  • #4
    Loti Cafe & Roof Lounge
    #4 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 384 reviewsTripadvisor (384)
    $ - $$ | Mediterranean, Turkish, Healthy, Middle Eastern
    Divan Yolu Caddesi No:27 Fatih, Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34112 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #5
    Novas Hagiasophia
    #5 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 494 reviewsTripadvisor (494)
    $ - $$ | Seafood, Mediterranean, European, Turkish, Healthy, Grill
    Kucuk Ayasofya Mahallesi Kucuk Ayasofya Medresesi Sok. Huseyin Medresesi IshanI No:21, Istanbul 34123 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #6
    Kumkapi Kosem Fish Restaurant
    #6 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 184 reviewsTripadvisor (184)
    $ - $$ | Seafood
    Samsa Sokak no 3 Muhsinehatun mahallesi fatih, Istanbul 34093 Turkey
    Read More »
  • Kucukoglu Barbecue Restaurant
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 2111 reviewsTripadvisor (2111)
    $ - $$ | Mediterranean, Barbecue, Turkish, Grill
    Prof. Kazim Ismail Gurkan cd. no:2 kat:2 Alemdar Mh, Istanbul 34110 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #7
    Ottoman terrace fish & meat
    #7 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 355 reviewsTripadvisor (355)
    $ - $$ | Mediterranean, Turkish, Barbecue, Healthy, Wine Bar, Middle Eastern
    Fatih Sultanahmet Cankurtaran Mah Kutlugün Sk. No:51-4, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #8
    Buhara Ocakbasi Restaurant
    #8 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 3993 reviewsTripadvisor (3993)
    $ - $$ | Seafood, Healthy
    Alemdar Mah. Nuruosmaniye Cad. No: 7 Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34440 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #9
    Istanbul Kitchen Cafe Restaurant
    #9 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 324 reviewsTripadvisor (324)
    $ - $$ | Turkish, Seafood, Mediterranean, Barbecue, Wine Bar
    Alemdar mah, Prof. KazIm Ismail Gurkan Cd. no 7 Fatih, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #10
    Rainbow Fish & Meat Restaurant
    #10 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 314 reviewsTripadvisor (314)
    $ - $$ | Seafood, Turkish, Mediterranean, Barbecue
    Mimar Mehmet Aga Caddesi No 33/1, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #11
    Fish Home AhhirkapI restaurant
    #11 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 1342 reviewsTripadvisor (1342)
    $ - $$ | Seafood, Healthy
    Cankurtaran Mahallesi, Ahir Kapi cad, No 36 Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #12
    Istanbul Anatolian Cuisine
    #12 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 1027 reviewsTripadvisor (1027)
    $ - $$ | Seafood, Mediterranean, Barbecue, Turkish, Middle Eastern
    Kadirga Liman Caddesi, Cami Sokak No:7 Kucuk Ayasofya Mahallesi, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #13
    Ziya Sark Sofrasi
    #13 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 1261 reviewsTripadvisor (1261)
    $ - $$ | Barbecue, Turkish, Healthy, Middle Eastern
    Hocapasa Mah. Hocapasa Camii Sok. No: 15/A Fatih-Sirkeci, Istanbul 34110 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #14
    Lotiz Lounge & Hookah
    #14 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 1514 reviewsTripadvisor (1514)
    $ | Steakhouse, Bar, European, Turkish, Healthy
    Vidinli Tevfik Pasa Cad. No:14 Balabanaga Mahallesi, Istanbul 34134 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #15
    Istanbul Kebab Cafe & Restaurant
    #15 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 1032 reviewsTripadvisor (1032)
    $ | Seafood, Barbecue, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean
    Divanyolu Caddesi Bickiyurdu sk. Divan center No:5, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #16
    Bitlisli
    #16 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 2430 reviewsTripadvisor (2430)
    $ - $$ | Turkish, Grill, Middle Eastern, Barbecue, Healthy
    Hocapasa Mah. Hocapasa Camii Sok. No:2/B Sirkeci-Fatih, Istanbul Turkey
    Read More »
  • #17
    Mivan Restaurant Cafe
    #17 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 973 reviewsTripadvisor (973)
    $ - $$ | Mediterranean, Turkish, European, Healthy, Middle Eastern, Soups
    Piyerloti Caddesi No: 34 Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34126 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #18
    Yakamoz Terrace Cafe Restaurant
    #18 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 603 reviewsTripadvisor (603)
    $ - $$ | Steakhouse, Mediterranean, Barbecue, Turkish, Seafood
    Sultanahmet bab-i ali cad. basmuhasip sok. no :13.34110 On The Top Of Great Fortune Hotel Terrace, Istanbul 34093 Turkey
    Read More »
  • #19
    Byzantion Bistro & Restaurant
    #19 of 15,190 Places to Eat in Istanbul
    Tripadvisor Traveler Rating 5 based on 944 reviewsTripadvisor (944)
    $ - $$ | Italian, Steakhouse, Seafood, Barbecue, Turkish, Healthy, Neapolitan, Campania
    Ordu Caddesi,Yesil Tulumba Sok, No.9/1 Laleli / Fatih, Istanbul 34134 Turkey
    Read More »

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