With a tradition going back thousands of years, those in the know rate Turkish food on a par with Chinese or French cuisine.
Kinds of Restaurant
In Istanbul there's a wide range of different types of restaurants you can eat at:
- Fast food stalls: Here you can buy kebabs (in a durum or a pitta), pide, and other well-known Turkish foods. This is a good option if you want something quick and cheap, with prices between 2 TL (US$ 0.10) and 5 TL (US$ 0.20).
- Self-Serve: These are found in the more touristic areas. If you don't want to eat in a fast food stall and are in a rush this is a good option.
- Meyhane: These are traditional restaurants that serve alcohol. They are kind of Turkish taverns, and a good place to try traditional Raki.
- Lokanta: Like the above, but of a slightly higher level
- Restoran: A Western-style restaurant, normally the most expensive option.
As well as the above, if you want a little snack in between meals, you'll find hundreds of street stalls that sell heads of corn and ice creams. Turkish ice cream is something you really should try, their concept is much different than the Italian style you may be used to!
Best places to eat
Although you'll find restaurants and fast food stalls throughout Istanbul, there are three main areas you really should check out.
Sultanahmet Square: Near the Hagia Sophia you'll find a number of great restaurants and terraces. And these days prices are similar to the rest of the city, despite it being a tourist hot spot.
Galata Bridge: In the lower part of the bridge you'll find a number of restaurants specializing in the fresh fish which are brought in daily. Although the prices are similar to Sultanahmet Square and there are great views out over the sea, this place is quite a bit more touristic and perhaps lower quality than some of the other areas.
Taksim Square: Here you'll find hundreds of restaurants, and at a cheaper price than many of the more touristic areas, although self-service and similar establishments are common, you can also find a great quality restaurant here.
Although there are good places two eat throughout the city, here are two which we particularly enjoyed
- Enjoyer. İncili Çvş. Sk, 25, Sultanhamet.
- The charming staff and the quality of their food meant we went twice!
- Gani Gani. Küçük Parmakkapı Sk, Beyoğlu.
- Recommended by locals, this restaurant had great prices and original decoration.
- If you want to learn more about Istanbul's cuisine, we recommend checking out the section on Turkish cuisine and typical dishes in Istanbul.