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Where to eat in Istanbul – a food and dining guide

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Istanbul is a city that was established because of its location and its links to the sea. Naturally, the locals here have developed a love for seafood and share this taste though their countless restaurants along the seafront. For more traditional Turkish cuisine, the best restaurants are further inland, particularly in Galata and Sultanahmet.

Alper Tutak

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While in Istanbul you have to try a traditional kebab. They can be found everywhere and range from the cheap and popular doner kebab to adana and urfa kebabs which are long strips of minced meat that come fused with spices, or in the case of the urfa kebab, combined with onion.




As the historical center of Istanbul, Sultanahmet is one of the best places to go to for traditional Turkish cuisine. Köfte kebab is a type of meatball dish; mince lamb is mashed with herbs such as mint and parsley and then grilled on a stick. This kebab can be sampled at Meshur Kofteci, near Sultanahmet tram stop. Doy Doy serves more simple chicken kebabs, lamb stews, and pide – much like pitta bread – baked in a wood burning oven. This is a particularly good choice for these kinds of foods as the roof terrace overlooks the Blue Mosque and the Mamara Sea.


Golden Horn


West of the New City and north of Sultanahmet lies the Golden Horn district. The Golden Horn district is home to the Golden Horn estuary, which is a scenic riverside corner of Istanbul. Its obvious connections to the sea have made it a popular spot for seafood. Tarihi Karaköy Balikçısı is right by the river and has a reliable supply of fresh fish to help make their food nothing short of excellent. This establishment has been open for nearly 100 years and is still as popular as ever.




Galata is home to some of the best restaurants in the city. What has attracted these restaurants is Galata’s hilly attributes, which lends some stunning views of the city. 360 Istanbul is perhaps the premier restaurant in the city. It is aptly called 360 Istanbul as it offers views of the entire city, especially of the skyscrapers in nearby New City. 360 Istanbul develops a party atmosphere as the night goes on. Nu Terras also takes advantage of Galata’s height, giving you a view to go with your meal.




Bosphorus is north of New City and has a large line of coast on the Black Sea. Like a lot of other parts of Istanbul, the Bosphorus district is a hot spot for seafood; Istanbul’s inescapable link to the sea has been a constant source of fresh fish and other sea life. Park Fora is probably the best seafood restaurant in this area. This sun-soaked seaside restaurant has a large space in the interior and an outdoor area that overlooks the sea and the Bosphorus Bridge. This district offers more than just seafood, however, and has a great spot for Turkish breakfasts in Kale Cay Bahçesi, where you can try the feta cheese, olives, crunchy cucumbers, peppers, jam, and simit, which is a circular bread covered in sesame seeds.




Meshur Kofteci, Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mh. No.11. Tel: +90 212 243 7986• Doy Doy, Sifa Hamami no.13. Tel: +90 212 517 1588• Tarihi Karaköy Balikçısı, Tersane Cad. Kardeşim Sk. No.3. Tel: +90 212 243 4080• 360 Istanbul, Albay Faik Sözdener Cd No.31. Tel: +90 216 542 4350• Nu Terras, Meşrutiyet Caddesi No.6. Tel: +90 212 245 6070• Park Fora, Muallim Naci Cd No.54. Tel: +90 212 265 5063• Kale Cay Bahçesi, Yahya Kemal Cad. No.36. Tel: +90 212 257 5578