Home Food and Drink Istanbul food & drink guide: 10 things to try in Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul food & drink guide: 10 things to try in Istanbul, Turkey

With a foot in each Europe and Asia, Istanbul’s cultural and geographical diversity collide, providing an upscale and varied culinary art

Consisting of 2 distinct elements that area unit separated by a waterway, Stamboul retains a ecu and Asian identity. It’s a terrific bonus for guests as they get to expertise 2 cities in one location. however that’s not the sole advantage of this distinctive destination.

Istanbul’s culinary art is Associate in Nursing merger of southeast European staples and geographical area tastes. The result? a pleasant assortment of dishes and drinks that area unit totally different from the rest you’ll realize within the world. Here area unit ten of the highest foods and drinks to sample whereas you’re in Stamboul.


A huge a part of Turkish culinary art is that the starters and appetisers – a spread of tiny dishes served along to, primarily, produce a main meal. These tiny dishes of appetisingness area unit remarked as meze (or mezze). whereas people take their choose from a colossal receptacle of assorted meze, the dishes area unit typically shared among a table. the primary serving of meze tends to be cold, before being followed by a spherical of hot meals. For the absolute best meze, choose one in every of the numerous meyhanes – ancient restaurants that specialize in meze culinary art.

Where to try: If you’re in search of a real meyhane expertise while not the bells and whistles, visit Tarihi Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi (Huseyinaga Mh. Sahne Sk, No. 47) in Beyoğlu on the ecu facet. The building of this edifice is over a hundred years previous and its interior and approach have barely modified since its gap. Another 100-year-old meyhane is Safa Meyhanesi (Ilyas Bey Cd, No. 121) in Fatih. The classic interior is effortlessly pleasant, and therefore the edifice remains one in every of Istanbul’s most noted meyhanes.

An assorted meze consisting of meat kebab, falafel, baba ghanoush, muhammara, hummus, sambusak, rice, tahini, kibbeh and pita

İskender Kebap

This in style dish of northwest Turkey is known as when its creator, Iskender Efendi – a 19th-century male aristocrat UN agency lived in Bursa throughout the reign of the empire. apparently, the dish’s actual name is ‘Kebapçi İskender’. However, this name is proprietary by İskender Efendi’s family – resulting in it being served below the additional well-known name of İskender kebap. Served on flatbread bread, laden with butter and pasta sauce, this dish of döner meat is usually accompanied with food.

Where to try: While the dish is traditionally associated with Bursa, many believe Meshur Bursa Kebaapçısı (Atif Yilmaz Cd, No. 8) in Beyoğlu offers the best İskender kebap in Istanbul. Situated on the Asian side of the city, Iskender Iskenderoglu (Albay Faik Sozdener Cd) in Kadıköy, serves İskender kebap as it’s only dish.

Turkish traditional Iskender kebap with yogurt


Another classic staple of Turkic culinary art is mantı – a tasty dumpling fabricated from dough and a filling, the same as alimentary paste. Generally, the mixture consists of onion, ground lamb or beef, seasoned with salt and pepper. However, it’s conjointly attainable to swap out the lamb or beef for chicken or salmon. Vegetarians will even request spinach as Associate in Nursing choice. It’s ordinarily served with a facet of food and smothered in an exceedingly pasta sauce, that is broiled in butter. The dish is in style not solely in Turkey however conjointly in Russia and different former Soviet countries.

Where to try: When talking about mantı, it’s imperative to mention Casita (Etiler Mah, Nispetiye Cd, No. 65/A) on the Asian side of the city. This popular restaurant serves traditional mantı, as well as fried mantı. For something a little different, Hingal Mantı (Cumhuriyet Cd, Mirac Sk, No. 3) in Çiftlik to the north of the Asian side offers a Dagestan influenced take on mantı. The dumplings, resembling something between mantı and tortellini, come served in all manners of beautiful colours, including blue and green.

Traditional manti food on a plate with sauce


Named when a part of Turkey’s İzmir Province, this dish includes egg and tomato. As tomatoes were 1st grownup in İzmir within the Nineteen Twenties, it’s thought that tomato growers were impressed to make tasty meals with excess manufacture. a spread of different ingredients area unit accustomed complete the dish – like herbs – with some variants containing mushrooms, sausages and cheese.

Where to try: Bebek Kahve (Cevdetpasa Cd No. 18) ensures delectable menemen and great views. The restaurant is positioned right on the waterfront of the Bosphorus Strait – allowing you to gaze at the passing boats and the Asian side of Istanbul. Sütiş Taksim (İstiklal Cd No. 7) in Beyoğlu is a perfect breakfast spot – serving several varieties of menemen.

Menemen - Istanbul food and drink guide

Kuyu kababı

This specialty dish originates from the Kastamonu Province to the north of the country, in a neighborhood referred to as the sea Region. The dish’s name, translating roughly as ‘pit kebab’, comes from however it’s broiled. The meat is adorned over a pit-like charcoal or coal kitchen appliance for hours to cook the organless male lamb slowly. In Turkey, and different areas round the Central Asian region, this kind of kitchen appliance is remarked as a ‘Tandır’.

Where to try: For authentically cooked kuyu kababı, head to Siirt Şeref Büryan Kebap Salonu (Itfaiye Cd, No. 4) in the Fatih district on the European side of the city. Slightly south of here, you’ll also uncover Sirkeci Restaurant (Nobethane Cd, Serdar Sk, No. 24). Both restaurants are considered two of the city’s most excellent eateries.

Lowering kebab into a stone tandoor oven


This cheese pastry dish could be a ancient direction found in several Arab cuisines – typically below the name ‘kanafeh’. Despite the savoury cheese component, künefe could be a course. The cheese is sandwiched between 2 sheets of stringy pastry referred to as tel kadayıf. In Turkish culinary art, the pastry is served in sweetener with a facet of cream, and walnuts or pistachios area unit besprent on high.

Where to try: The dish’s popularity in Turkey comes from the Hatay Province where Hatay peyniri (translating as cheese of Hatay) is used in the recipe. Akdeniz Hatay Sofrasi (Ahmediye Cd, No. 44/A) in Fatih specialises in the traditional version of this dish. On the Asian side of the city, look for Künefecizade (Fahrettin Kerim Gökay Cd, No. 31) in Kadıköy where the künefe is beautifully presented.

A slice of künefe - Istanbul food and drink guide
A slice of künefe


Wherever there’s meze, there’s rakı. referred to as Turkey’s national alcoholic drink of selection, rakı is Associate in Nursing anise-flavoured food that goes hand-in-hand with meze. even though you’re not a disciple of the liquorice style, this sturdy liquor is (too) straightforward to consume and a must-try for guests.

Where to try: You can sample rakı at any meyhane or bar, but Safi Meyhane (Mesrutiyet Cd, No. 84) in Beyoğlu is particularly favoured for rakı – so much so that they even serve a rakı ice cream! The restaurant itself, in contrast to the previous meyhanes, has a more updated and modern feel. Also in Beyoğlu is Çukur Meyhane (Turnacibasi Caddesi, Kartal Sk, No. 1/A) – offering a relaxed, genuine rakı and meze experience.

A couple clinks their glasses of rakı before tucking into their meal.


Perhaps Turkey’s most loved non-alcoholic drink, ayran could be a summer must-have. Containing no sugar, this refreshing food could be a mix of water, cold food and salt. you’ll even realize it within the country’s McDonalds and Burger King restaurants, and it’s most enjoyed with meat dishes. The drink’s history is believed to increase back thousands of years to the days of the Göktürks.

Where to try: One of the best ayrans can be found at Babo’nun Yeri Şanlıurfa Zaman Kebap (Simitçi Şakir Sk, No. 30/A). Here, it’s created from ingredients sourced in Turkey’s villages, as opposed to those imported from a factory. If you’re visiting the Topkapı Palace Museum – once home to the Ottoman sultans – make sure to stop off and try ayran at The Han Restaurant (Alemdar Cd, Soguk Cesme Sk, No. 26).

Glass of ayran served with food on wooden table


While ayran is for summer, salep is ideal for drinking within the winter months. Originally made up of the tubers of orchids, salep is additionally created with artificial seasoning. individuals have resorted to the present as a result of the sort of orchidaceous plant utilized in the food is changing into extinct in some areas. that ought to tell you all you would like to understand concerning the recognition of salep! Consisting of hot milk and sugar, thickened with flour, this steaming treat is additionally besprent with cinnamon.

Where to try: Due to the rarity and price of real salep, it’s common to find cheap variants of the drink in plenty of places around Istanbul. One genuine seller of salep is Dondurmaci Ali Usta (Moda Cd, No. 264/A) in Moda, Kadıköy on the Asian side. It’s also worth visiting Maiden’s Tower, dating back to the Byzantine Empire on the Bosphorus Strait. Apart from being a historical wonder, the tower now features a café and restaurant where you can happily warm up with a glass of salep.

Cup of Turkish salep with cinnamon sticks on dark wood


Easy to create however devilishly difficult to master, pastry is Turkey’s most noted course. the shape by that we all know pastry by nowadays was developed within the kitchens of the Topkapı Palace throughout the Ottoman Empire’s reign. skinny layers of puff paste (yufka) dough area unit strewn with batty (walnuts, pistachios or hazelnuts) before being lined in butter, baked and so given a sweet dressing of sweetener or honey. once baked properly, it’s one in every of the foremost moreish dishes you’ll ever style.

Where to try: Two places in Istanbul are famed for their baklava – and both can be found in Karaköy. Firstly, there’s Köşkeroğlu (Mumhâne Cd, Katlı Otopark Altı, No. 2/2). This quaint little restaurant has received the ‘Certificate of Excellence’ from TripAdvisor for four years running. On the other side of the same building you’ll see Karaköy Güllüoğlu (Rıhtım Cd, Katlı Otopark Altı, No. 3-4) with the same certification from TripAdvisor. Many believe that this specialty dessert shop is the best place for baklava in Istanbul.

Pistachio baklava - Istanbul food and drink guide
Pistachio baklava


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