Food in Istanbul
Update 04/07/2019: One of the biggest reasons why I travel is because of food. I love discovering mouthwatering cuisines, seeing how my food is prepared, knowing where they come from, the history behind… Basically everything about food.
When I visit a country, I have a list of where I want to eat instead of visit. I do some homework before going to that country/city so that I know what am I looking for, but also at the same time, I go with the flow and see where my nose and eyes bring me. If you are a foodie yourself, you should know how to plan for a foodie trip!
Food in Istanbul - all my beloved restaurants
I was in Istanbul for two weeks – it wasn’t supposed to be that long but it totally won my heart over. Turkish cuisine is unlike any cuisine in the world. It is the perfect pot to mix all the goodness from African, Asia and Europe together.
I stayed in Istanbul longer because it’s easier to find all the regional cuisines in Turkey as well. Besides, I also had the opportunity to try Syrian, Egyptian and Iranian cuisines too! Keep reading!!
I met a Turkish lady when I was taking a Dormuz (minivan) from Taksim to Kadikoy. We started a conversation and we instantly clicked. She is very proud of the cuisine from her region and that’s how I got to know this restaurant.
Hayvore is strategically located on the main street of Taksim. It features a cuisine so close to my heart – seafood! If you are not a seafood lover, it’s okay! There are other things here too! You can just point at the dishes that you want and then they will serve them to you.
The photo is one of the food in Istanbul that I miss the most!
Address: Kuloğlu Mh., Turnacıbaşı Sok. No:4, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
There are many things that makes life complete. Iskander Kebab is one of them. I got to know about this dish when I tried it in a Turkish Restaurant in Melbourne. It was fantabulous – it almost made me turn away from the normal doner kebabs that we would normally have after 8 beers. But I didn’t, because I am a loyal 8-beer drinker so I would need all these doner kebabs too.
Iskander Kebab is a kind of Turkish kebab where you have ultra thin slices of meat put on top of some Turkish bread. When the dish is presented to you, the waiter would ask if you want some boiling oil (that the kebab drips off) on top. I mean it’s not the most healthy thing but hey! You are on a vacation, not a diet!
Address: Many branches in Istanbul
Okay this is not really a restaurant. This is my favourite dessert shop in Istanbul. The owner of my hostel and some of my Turkish friends highly recommended it and so I went.
And I did not know in my most humble memory that Turkish desserts taste like paradise.
Just come and order whatever you think is good. Rule of thumb – the more pistachio there is, the better it is.
Address: Many branches in Istanbul
You might wanna have a good Turkish breakfast to call it a trip to Turkey.
There are MANY restaurants in Turkey that serves full Turkish breakfast but it can be overwhelming to check out which one to choose from. As much as I wanted to go to the legendary Sutis Emrigan to have it, I was defeated by the line.
My Turkish friend who is a lecturer told me about Beirut Cafe and I went. It was cheap, service was good and the menemen was mind-blowing.
It’s a little bit of a trek as it’s located at Fatih. I recommend asking your reception about where you could have a full Turkish breakfast (and hopefully they don’t just tell you it’s their hotel/hostels). I have heard that it doesn’t differ that much – it’s just the variety of things that you have.
Address: Ali Kuşçu Mahallesi, At Pazarı Meydanı Sok. No:7, 34083 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
With just 11 lira, you get a plate and you can fill it with whatever you want. I think this place is vegan (or at least vegetarian) but it wasn’t explicitly stated. The falafel here is absolutely gorgeous. It’s located in Kadikoy and hence if you are thinking about a beautiful day trip to the Asian side of Istanbul, then you have to try this place out!
Address: Caferağa Mahallesi, Nailbey Sk. No:15, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Turkey
Food in Istanbul doesn’t consists of just Turkish food. There is a pretty international food scene as well!
I made a few Egyptian friends when I was travelling in Istanbul. Some of them were long term travellers and so, they crave Egyptian food a lot. Cairo restaurant was the answer to all their prayers as it was really authentic. It was my first time in an Egyptian restaurant and hence I didn’t know what to order. The waiters there were really, really nice and took the time to explain the menu to us. They even made a slideshow of all the food that they have! Highly recommend this place and if you do come, order Mulukhiya and Cairo Koshari. They were my favourite dishes!
Address: Meşrutiyet Mahallesi, Halaskargazi Cd. No:122, 34363 Şişli/İstanbul, Turkey
Salloura Oglu Restaurant
One of my Iranian friends flew to Istanbul to see me. She was couchsurfing with a Syrian and that’s how we knew about this restaurant. According to him, it was the best Syrian restaurant in town and the food WAS GORGEOUS! I loved everything about the restaurant. The sitar player playing traditional Syrian music, the lively vibe of the restaurant, the sing-a-long… It wasn’t just about the food; it was an experience.
We were lucky to have our Syrian friends with us because the menu was in Arabic. I still highly recommend you to come here and eat because the food is simply crying out loud for you to try them here. Come here and support the Syrian business here. They didn’t have it easy.
Address: Molla Gürani Mahallesi, Molla Gurrani Mah. Turgut Ozal Cad, Turgut Özal Millet Cd No 60/a, 34093 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Lokantasi means restaurants for shopkeepers and tradesmen according to Wikipedia. In a lokantasi, you basically have a full view of what is served in house as dishes are presented in front of you. If you can read Turkish, it’s even better because the prices are listed there.
Balkan Lokantasi is one of the cheapest lokantasis. There are many branches in Istanbul and the brand is widely known among (poor) uni students.
Address: Many branches in Istanbul
Reyhun Iranian Restaurant
Many people know that I’m obsessed with Iranian food. I was in Istanbul for 2 weeks and hence, my tastebuds wanted to change a little bit from the Turkish cuisine. And the Iranians who were working in my hostel told me about this little gem located in Taksim Square. If you don’t know what to order, just get Ghormeh Sabzi, Fesenjan and Gheimeh with rice.
Address: Tomtom Mahallesi, Tom Tom Mah, Yeni Çarşı Cd. 26/1, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Food in Istanbul is absolutely gorgeous. I really hope you make the most out of your trip to this sprawling foodie city! Happy eating!!
Where to stay?
Istanbul is huge so I recommend staying near Taksim. Staying in this area allows you to commute to many places easily. As we all know that the traffic is absolutely horrendous in Istanbul, staying in Taksim allows you to use the Metro and also the Dormuz to other places. It’s very well-connected to Kadikoy, Sultanahmet and other areas of interest.
Budget – I think the biggest reason why I enjoyed Istanbul a lot is because I rented Apartof. Renting this apartment is the best decision that I have made while in Istanbul. Strategically located at Taksim priced at 45 euros per night, what more can you ask for?
Comfortable – If you wanna be a little more comfortable, stay with Sentire Hotels & Residences. It gives you the flexibility to cook something as the kitchen is well-equipped.
High-end – Treat yourself at Pera Palace Hotel if you want to pamper yourself. This Franco-Ottoman building should be an attraction itself. You won’t have to fight with other tourists to go up the Galata Tower as you will get an amazing view of the city from the terrace itself!
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Born and raised in Malaysia, Aaron is a medical student who desperately preaches about “Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive” – well, he has a full-on blog about it. When he is free, he checks for the cheapest airfare that would get him out of Australia. Aaron indulges in local cuisine so much that he has to lose some weight before and after he goes travelling.
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