Hello from the giant city, Istanbul! It is one of those unique places in the world that offers a crazy selection of food. I am so excited to share the best restaurants in my hometown so let’s get started!
Turkish cuisine has roots in the Ottoman Empire and offers many types of desserts, vegetables, meat, and fish dishes. Most of the meals include local spices and many of them have fried and grilled versions. I don’t know a person who is unsatisfied with Turkish cuisine so get ready for an epic food scene!
In this blog post on the best restaurants in Istanbul, I will talk about all kinds of dining places from breakfast cafes to fine dining restaurants, and bars. Every meal is another story in Istanbul so try to make the most of it!
Feeling hungry? Let’s start our food tour in Istanbul!
Since Istanbul is so huge, I have split the best restaurants by area followed by some sections by interest. Here is a map to help you visualize all the different districts I will be talking about here so you can choose a restaurant close to your location!
Istanbul is a giant city offering tons of restaurants and cafes. In order to help you discover modern and traditional Turkish cuisine as well as world cuisine from the Mediterranean to international dishes, I will talk about the best restaurants in Istanbul separately on European, and Asian sides.
Best restaurants in Sultanahmet, Golden Horn
Sultanahmet is the heart of the Golden Horn where you will see the main tourist attractions such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar. Golden Horn is one of the best places to stay in Istanbul so I am sure you will also want to have a nice dish here.
- Old Ottoman Restaurant – this is a nice restaurant to have traditional Turkish food, meatballs, kebab, and appetizers with vegetables. It also has a very central location in the Sultanahmet area.
- Hamdi Restaurant – Do you wanna try traditional Turkish dishes with a view? This restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Istanbul to have lamb kebab, a great selection of appetizers, and Turkish desserts.
- Nars Brasserie / Sultanahmet Restaurant – At the heart of Sultanahmet, this restaurant offers delicious dishes from international cuisine as well as traditional Turkish food.
- Ararat Terrace Restaurant & Rooftop – This restaurant has a beautiful terrace with views of Bosphorus and Sultanahmet and offers delicious seafood and meat dishes.
- Hidden Garden Sultanahmet – If you want to try dishes from ottoman cuisine this restaurant has a great selection of dishes from meat to vegetables.
- Sultanahmet Terrace Restaurant – This grill restaurant has an amazing terrace with a sea view and offers delicious main courses with fish and meat.
While you’re in the area make sure to grab a Maraş dondurması (ice cream), this unique ice cream is stretchy, doesn’t melt, and you even get a show with your treat!
Best restaurants in Galata & Karakoy
The historical Galata neighborhood and Karaköy is not only home to many popular things to do in Istanbul but they also have some of the best restaurants in Istanbul.
- Karaköy Lokantası – This is one of the best restaurants in Istanbul to try traditional Turkish cuisine with a modern touch. It also has great decoration and is a perfect place to have lunch and dinner.
- Mükellef Meyhane ve Ocakbaşı – Looking for a place to have a nice dinner and you are a fan of grilled dishes? This restaurant has very delicious grilled lamb, kebab, and a great selection of appetizers.
- Sensus Galata Şarapevi – Do you wanna try some Turkish wine? This is a very cool Winehouse where you can try and buy many kinds of local wines and also has great cheese plates with local and imported varieties.
- Akın Restaurant – This famous cozy seafood restaurant has delicious dishes like anchovy, mussels, and calamari. Also, you should try appetizers with yogurt with a glass of rakı.
- Karaköy Gümrük – This restaurant is one of my favorite ones to have lunch and dinner. You can find modern Turkish food, great coffee as well as beer and wine selections. Plus, the interior design is so Instagrammable!
Best restaurants on Istiklal Street, Taksim
Taksim is one of the most famous places in Istanbul and on Istiklal Street you will find loads of restaurants. Let me talk about my favorite ones that I am sure you will enjoy as much as I do.
- Eleos Fish Restaurant – Turkish food with Bosphorus view? This restaurant has amazing seafood dishes like sea bass, calamari, and very delicious shrimp. Don’t forget to try some appetizers with a glass of rakı.
- Fıccın Restaurant – This is a very cozy restaurant where you can have delicious lunch and dinner from Turkish and Balkan cuisines with a friendly atmosphere
- Zübeyir Ocakbaşı – One of the most famous grill restaurants that have mouth-watering lamb and chicken kebabs. There is also a great selection of drinks and you will love the vibrant atmosphere.
- Chef Mezze – If you wanna try modern Turkish cuisine, this restaurant is one of the best ones with its delicious appetizers, meat, and seafood dishes. Plus it has an amazing sea view!
- Sur Balık Restaurant Cihangir – For seafood lovers, this restaurant definitely must be on your list. You won’t get enough of their special seafood dishes like octopus, calamari, and prawns.
Best fine dining restaurants on the European side
In Istanbul, it is possible to find all kinds of restaurants and now I would like to talk about some cool fine dining restaurants where you can have a fancy night out enjoying anything from ottoman cuisine with a modern touch to dishes from around the world.
- Mikla – Mikla has a famous chef-owner Mehmet Gürs and offers a tasting menu with a glass of wine, dessert, and a selection of contemporary Mediterranean cuisines. Plus it has an epic terrace bar with a Bosphorus view which is the perfect place to try the signature cocktails!
- Mürver Restaurant – This fine dining restaurant offers food from international cuisines with fish and meat dishes. There is also a bar where you can have a great selection of drinks with a Bosphorus view.
- Nusr-Et – Owned by the world-famous chef Nusret, this restaurant is also known as Saltbae’s restaurant. Whatever you call it, it’s the place with the best meat in the town! As well as the taste of the food you will be impressed with the fun presentation of the dish. Also, you must try the ottoman desserts but don’t forget to book your table in advance!
- St. Regis Brasserie – Fan of Mediterranean cuisine? This fancy restaurant has a great chef offering an epic dining experience with a great atmosphere.
- Nicole – This restaurant has a very central location and offers a great selection of dishes of contemporary Mediterranean cuisine with its popular chef.
Best restaurants with a Bosphorus River view
Since you are in Istanbul I’m sure you might want to have your meal at a table overlooking the Bosphorus river. Here are my top picks where you can have great food with an amazing view.
- Marmara Pera – Located on Istiklal Street, this is a restaurant at the terrace of Marmara Pera Hotel that has a spectacular Bosphorus view. You can go for dinner and enjoy some delicious food from international cuisine, or for a nice brunch.
- Feriye Palace – This restaurant has an amazing location by the Bosphorus and delicious fish and meat main courses. You should also check out their wide wine menu.
- Neolokal – Dinner with a view of the Hagia Sophia and Bosphorus river? Yes please! Located in Galata, this restaurant not only has an impressive view but also has a great selection of dishes from Mediterranean Cuisine.
- Vogue Restaurant – It is not possible to not be amazed at the view of this restaurant! It has main courses from different world cuisines such as sushi, fish selections, and Italian food. I also recommend this restaurant for breakfast and brunch!
Best vegan/vegetarian restaurants on the European Side
Turkish cuisine includes a lot of meat and fish dishes and usually, they are all served with salad and some vegetables. For vegans and vegetarians, I took out the meat part and found the best restaurants where you can have traditional Turkish food in a modern vegan way alongside your veggie favorites!
- Avokado Bar – This place is heaven for vegans. They have many kinds of tasty dishes prepared with avocado, falafel wraps, and delicious salads.
- Kase No: 16 – In this place, you will find many bowl options prepared with colorful vegetables and they have a great selection of soups.
- Minoa Bookstore & Cafe – This is a very cool cafe and a bookstore where you can have delicious salads and sandwiches while reading great books.
- Galata Kitchen – Looking for healthy food? This place has tons of appetizers from Turkish cuisine prepared with olive oil and vegetables.
- Havan`dan by Beff Gourmet – This place has mouthwatering daily menus with yummy vegetables and delicious soups.
Best breakfast spots in Istanbul
Once you start your food journey in Istanbul you will realize that breakfast is one of the most important meals in Turkey. There are tons of places offering breakfast with crazy selections. So of course I had to give you some of the best breakfast restaurants in Istanbul!
- Namlı Gurme Karaköy – This deli and cafe has numerous cheese, olive, and meat selections. Choose the ones you want to try from the stall and enjoy it with a glass of Turkish tea.
- House Cafe Ortaköy – Do you wanna have breakfast by the sea with a view? This is one of my favorite cafes to have breakfast in Istanbul that has a breakfast menu with a large selection of local and imported varieties.
- Çeşme Bazlama Kahvaltı – Don’t be surprised when you see more than 20 plates on your table! This breakfast house has a standard breakfast menu with more than enough jam, cheese, olive, and egg selections.
- Menagerie – This chic cafe has an amazing Bosphorus view and a very delicious breakfast with a modern touch. They also have very good coffee!
- Rumeli Kale Cafe & Restaurant – This cafe has a great location by the Bosphorus Bridge and offers one of the best breakfast and Turkish tea in the town.
- Balkon Cafe & Kahvaltı – This place has a very delicious breakfast with a great selection of cheese, salad, and olives at a very affordable price.
Best coffee shops in Istanbul on the European side
Even though Turkish tea and Turkish coffee are very popular in Istanbul you will be able to find so many cool coffee shops with good coffee and nice decorations. Here are some of the best ones…
- Petra Roasting Coffee – It is one of the best places in Istanbul to have a good coffee. They have their own specialty coffee and you can also have a very good breakfast and desserts here.
- Kronotrop – a very nice coffee shop where you can find a great selection of coffees and also buy fresh coffee beans.
- Federal Coffee – This is a very cool coffee where you can have a great coffee and breakfast and also work in peace!
- Coffee Sapiens – Once you step into this coffee shop you will fall in love with the smell of the coffee right away. You can buy many different types of coffee so it’s the best place if you’re looking for something different every day!
- Montag Coffee Roastery – Looking for an Instagrammable coffee shop? This place not only has good coffee but also has a very cool design, perfect for pictures.
Best pubs on the European side of Istanbul, Turkey
If you are curious about where to have a casual, tasty beer in Istanbul with a nice vibe, here are the best pubs in the city.
- The Populist – You will love the style of this place within an old beer factory. This pub has very delicious bar snacks and has its own special craft beer.
- Beer Hall – Located in Beşiktaş, this bar has a crazy selection of beers and mouth-watering food. You will love the carnival-style decoration and lively atmosphere.
- Joker No.19 – Wanna take a pint with a delicious dish? This bar has everything you need from a great selection of beers, cocktails to mouth-watering food.
- Taps Bebek – Fan of a craft beer? This place has its own special craft beer and delicious beer snacks.
- Rock n Rolla – If you are looking for a budget and fun bar this is one of the best options in the city. Wherever you go you will see a vibrant atmosphere and they have great cocktails for an affordable price.
Best bars and nightclubs on the European side of Istanbul
Istanbul has a very vibrant nightlife and you will be able to find all kinds of nightclubs for all tastes. Let me talk about my favorite ones!
- 360 Istanbul – Do you wanna have a party with a panoramic view of Istanbul? Located in Beyoglu, this place has an epic terrace with a Bosphorus view and hosts DJ events. Plus, it has one of the best cocktails in the town!
- Ulus 29 – This famous restaurant has a famous chef offering delicious fish meals and wine selection. But after midnight it turns into a nightclub and you can enjoy the nice sea view with delicious cocktails!
- Nardis Jazz Club – For jazz music lovers this place has live music events and a great atmosphere. Have a delicious dish and a glass of wine and enjoy the music!
- Babylon Bomonti – Fan of a concert? This event venue hosts live concerts with local and international artists and has a cool bar.
- Suma Han – If you want to dance till the early hours of the morning this is one of the best places to party in the city. Every weekend they have Dj events and you will love the cave-style decoration.
Now that you’ve explored all the tourist attractions and the busy side of the city, head across the river and cross into Asia! Here are the best restaurants on the Asian Side of Istanbul.
Best restaurants in Kadiköy
Kadıköy is the most famous location in the Asian side of Istanbul to eat out. Let’s discover the best restaurants in this area.
- Güneşin Sofrası – This restaurant is a great place to have dinner with a glass of alcohol and a friendly atmosphere. They have a great selection of appetizers and seafood.
- Çiya Sofrası – This restaurant has a great chef offering many types of food from Ottoman Cuisine. They have an amazing soup selection and their special kebabs are definitely worth a try!
- Basta Street Food Bar – Centrally located in Kadiköy, this place has modern style food. I highly recommend the wraps and yummy hummus.
- Cibalikapı Balıkçısı – This restaurant is famous for its delicious seafood such as sea bass, shrimp and calamari. Make sure to have Turkish-style appetizers with yogurt and rakı.
- Happy Moon’s – This is a great cafe to have lunch or dinner with European-style food such as crepes, burgers, and pasta.
- Ekspres İnegöl Köftecisi – A must-try restaurant in the city for traditional meatballs. They also have very delicious homemade fried potatoes and special chili sauce.
Best vegan/vegetarian restaurants on the Asian Side
I didn’t forget the vegans and vegetarians who want to have some plant-based foods during their visit to the Asian side of Istanbul!
- Yer Cafe – This cozy place has delicious vegan pasta and sandwiches prepared with vegan cheese and vegetables. You will also love the beautiful interior design!
- Plus Kitchen – This restaurant offers vegan and vegetarian food with a great selection of food plus, they also have special fruit juices.
- Voi Cadde – This cafe has super Instagrammable smoothie bowls, vegan desserts, and grilled vegetable dishes. Plus their coffee is very good!
- Po Plant Based Kitchen – Wanna try a vegan burger? This cafe has so many delicious vegan dishes and tons of fruit juice selections!
Best breakfast places on the Asian Side of Istanbul, Turkey
There is nothing better than starting a day with a delicious Turkish breakfast. Let’s continue our discovery on the Asian side.
- Beyaz Fırın – Located in Kadıköy, this is a very famous bakery where you can find many types of bread, cakes and bakery products.
- Brekkie Coisorant & Cookie – Do you wanna have a croissant with Turkish jam, olives, and cheese? This place not only has good breakfast but also has good coffee and dessert selection.
- Divan Brasserie Kalamış – Looking for a place to have a fancy brunch by the sea? Located in Kalamış Marina this restaurant offers a very good breakfast and view.
- 700gr Bakery & Cafe – If you like cozy cafes like me, this cute place has a modern-style Turkish breakfast and unique desserts.
- Pazar Brunch & Bakery – You will love the presentation of breakfast in this place that is served in a tray with many delicious products. They also have very good coffee and bakery products.
Best Pubs on the Asian Side
Even though it is not well known by tourists, especially in the Kadidköy neighborhood you will find some of the best bars in the city. Here are some of my favorite ones:
- Dorock XL – This bar has a great location in Kadiköy and is famous for its live music events. They have a very large sitting area where you can have many kinds of beers and snacks.
- Zeplin Pub & Delicatessen – Looking for a place to have delicious food and good beer? You will love the beer selection and great atmosphere in this bar.
- Belfast Irish Pub – Fan of an Irish Bar? In this pub, you will be able to find Guinness beer as well as the many other local beers, and nice music.
- Karga – This cool bar has a very nice interior design. You can either enjoy the garden area or sit by the fireplace. Whatever you choose, enjoy the good music and beer!
- Teachers Pub – If you love cozy bars you will love this place. They have a great selection of cocktails, wine, and beer.
Must try Turkish food
There are so many Turkish foods I want you to try but even I still have some more foods to taste, even though I’ve been living in this city for more than 30 years! So imagine the variety of dishes there are here!
Here are some of the must-try Turkish foods during your visit to Istanbul.
- Turkish coffee – traditional coffee that is made in a special coffee pot with a finely grounded coffee by boiling
- Döner – sliced lamb meat cooked in vertical spit that is served in a Turkish bread called lavaş with salad
- Midye Dolma – famous street food of a muscle filled with spicy rice
- Kumpir – baked potato filled with butter, cheese, and your choice of salads
- Mantı – a traditional dumpling stuffed with meat and served with yogurt
- Kebab – spicy roasted lamb or chicken served with lavaş and salad
- Pide – Flatbread cooked in a stone oven with toppings such as cheese, vegetables, and meat
- İçli Köfte – Deep-fried meatball stuffed with spicy wheat
- Baklava – the most famous Turkish dessert that comes from Ottoman Empire, layered pastry filled with pistachio
- Turkish delight (lokum) – candy that has a soft gummy texture made of starch and sugar with rose flavor comes from Ottoman Empire
- Meze – small dishes served as appetizers usually with vegetables or seafood
- Hookah (Nargile) – flavored water pipe that you smoke. Can be found in nargile cafes in almost every neighborhood
- Rakı – a local drink that has 40% alcohol level made of distilled grape and drunk with water and ice
- Ayran – a drink made of yogurt, water, and salt
- Fresh fruit juices – In many of the neighborhoods you will see street sellers selling fresh fruit juice of pomegranate, orange, banana, and apple, it’s a staple street food!
- Maraş dondurması (ice cream) – local ice cream called Maraş dondurması can be found in touristy areas such as Sultanahmet and Taksim and served in a cone with a funny show
Useful Information about Restaurants in Istanbul, Turkey
If you go to a restaurant in a touristy area in Istanbul you will find English menus in many places. Other than that, many of the restaurants have menus with food photos and some of them even have presentations in the stall. Here are some more useful tips for eating out in Istanbul.
Tipping in Istanbul, Turkey
Tipping is not mandatory in Istanbul but is expected in many restaurants. The regular tipping amount is between 10%-15% and some restaurants might add service charges.
Food Delivery Apps in Istanbul, Turkey
Food prices in Istanbul vary a lot. You can have a very nice meal at a very affordable price and have an expensive dinner with a Bosphorus view. In general, I would say that food prices are cheap – average European prices in Istanbul depend on where you go.
In order to give you an idea here is the average price of a meal and a drink per person in Istanbul:
- Lunch in a cafe or restaurant: 40 TRY (US$3) to 120 TRY (US$10)
- Dinner with a drink: 200 TRY (US$16) to 400 TRY (US$32)
- Fine Dining Restaurant: 400 TRY (US$32) to 800 TRY (US$64)
- Coffee & Breakfast: 30 TRY(US$2.50) to 60 TRY (US$4.50)
Frequently Asked Questions About Dining Out in Istanbul, Turkey
🌱 Where to eat vegan food in Istanbul?
Many of the Turkish meals are cooked with a variety of vegetables and there are so many nice appetizers and vegetables in Turkish cuisine. Some of the best restaurants you can find vegan food options are Çiya Sofrası, Karaköy Lokantası and Karaköy Gümrük.
✨ What are the best restaurants with a view of Istanbul?
Marmara Pera, Feriye Palace, Mikla, and Vogue Restaurant are the best restaurants in Istanbul that have an amazing Bosphorus view and a very good chef.
💰 Is eating out expensive in Istanbul?
Eating out in Istanbul is not expensive but totally depends on where you go. An average meal costs around US$3 and this price can go up to US$10 in a fine dining restaurant.
❓ Is tipping expected in Turkey?
Yes, especially for the dinner 10% tipping is expected in the restaurants in Turkey.
🤔 What is the most traditional Turkish food?
Kebap, baklava, and mantı are some of the most traditional food in Turkey.
🍸 What are the best fine dining restaurants in Istanbul?
Mikla, Nicole, Mürever Restaurant, and St. Regis Brasserie are the best fine dining restaurants in Istanbul that have a very good chef and view.
What a journey from ottoman cuisine, to modern Turkish food and international cuisines. I definitely feel like going to a Turkish restaurant now! I hope this blog post about the best restaurants in Istanbul helped you to understand where and what to eat in Istanbul.
I guarantee you will go back to your home with some extra weight as you won’t be able to help yourself to eat so many delicious foods and desserts so just enjoy! A final reminder especially for the fine dining restaurants and dinner restaurants, make sure to book a table a couple of days in advance!
Have an amazing time in Istanbul and let me know if you have any questions and suggestions about Istanbul and Turkey by leaving a comment below. I’ll be more than happy to leave a reply!