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Eating in Istanbul

Eating in Istanbul
Many of the best restaurants in Turkey are in Istanbul with some using their time and skill to offer old Ottoman style cuisine.

Restaurants in Istanbul

Istanbul has numerous first class international establishments offering fresh fish, always a firm favourite on the menus, with its ample supply from its long coastline. There are snack bars, kebab stalls, pastry shops and many fast food outlets, along with cafés catering to locals, workers and tourists alike.

As with many tourist areas worldwide, the Sultanahmet seems to offer poorer quality food at a more expensive price than you will find elsewhere in Istanbul.

Opening Hours

Many of the workers cafés and the lokantas open at 6am and close at 4pm whilst others generally open from 9am to 9pm. Restaurant hours are usually from lunch time and serve dinner until last orders around 10 or 11pm. Popular areas playing live music usually close in the early hours. Within the commercial district eateries close on Sunday as do the shops.

Budget eating and cafés

The Istanbul café society of old, where the male dominated teahouse offered a glass of tea, smoke from a hookah pipe or a shot of Raki (aniseed flavoured alcohol and the national drink of Turkey) has changed and is like any other European city with its continental cafés serving trendy coffees and imported alcoholic drinks.

The many pastry shops offering börek (all kinds of pastries filled with cheese, spinach, meat or potato) and lokanta style buffets with the food you eat on show for you to choose from.
Pide (Turkish pizza) and kebab salons offer filling cheap fare, stalls everywhere in Istanbul with simit's (similar to a pretzel) and other snacks, kokoreç (sheep’s innards) and fishermen offering fish sandwiches off of their boats. Prices vary greatly depending on the establishment and its location.

Location of Restaurants

Taksim and Beyoglu

The Taksim and Beyoglu areas mainly cater to theatre and movie-goers and the younger generation who eat there before heading out for the night.  Both places are also good for spending the whole evening over a meal and a good bottle of wine or raki.

Nevizade Street

The Fish Market (Balık Pazarı) offers the best ambience especially along Nevizade Street where its serenading musicians play while you eat mezes, kebabs and fish from the many restaurants and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere.


Although the old city has improved its restaurants in recent years Beyoglu offers the best in variety and quality. The quaint area of Kumkapi with its narrow streets and wandering fasıl bands, musicians who playing traditional Turkish instruments that will serenade you while you eat in any of the 50 fish restaurants surrounding the small square there.


It is very popular in summer with candle lit tables strewn on to the traffic free streets. There are trendier options in the cobbled streets of Ortakoy along with older traditional establishments. Again prices depend on location and choice of food, with fish usually being much costlier than meat and always expect to pay more if there is live music or if you dine on a terrace overlooking the Bosphorus .

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Turkish Food Recipes

Stuffed Kale Rolls with Minced Beef - Red Meat Courses

Main Course

Kunefe - Other Desserts


Meatballs in Egg Sauce - Main Course

Orange Biscuits - Cakes & Cookies

Tea Time Pastry

Lentils with Minced Meat - Legume Courses

Main Course

Keskul or Almond Cream - Dairy Desserts


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