Destinations,  Europe,  Turkey

The Food Of Turkey-Restaurants in Istanbul

Last but not least, we get to my favorite part of travel, food! I know I’ve said it a million times, it’s all about the food, and thankfully Turkish food did not disappoint. If you’re interested in food markets, then you may want to check out my post on my other blog about the Markets in Istanbul; Kadikoy Food Market and Galata Bridge Fish Market. Here, I’m going to share with you some of our favorite restaurant experience in Istanbul. Click here see where we ate in the maze of the Grand Bazaar and here for some of the food available in Selcuk (Ephesus).

In researching where to eat in Istanbul, one place kept coming up over and over again;  Ciya Sofrasi (Guneslibahce Sokak 43, Kadikoy; 90-216-330-3190; This restaurant actually has 3 separate store fronts on the same Kadikoy street. We took the ferry over to the Asia side of the city, to the Kadikoy stop (a fun trip in itself). The restaurant has both a menu in English, and steam tables where you can just point at what you want. One of the options is the mezze plate, where they weigh the plate after you select your choices to determine what you pay. I think all the cold mezze are vegetarian, so this restaurant is a good choice for those who don’t eat meat. We ordered from both and got a delicious selection of food.


I read about Ficcin in the Istanbul Eats: Exploring the Culinary Backstreets book. Dumplings filled with meat covered with a yogurt sauce and chili oil? I’m sold! And yes, they were as good as they sound. According to the book, this is a dish from the Caucasus mountains. Ficcin is in lower Beyoglu, off Istiklal Caddessi at Kallavi Sokak 13/1-7/1. Open daily.


We arrived at Datli Maya on a busy Friday night to find the tiny restaurant packed to the gills. Rather than wait for a table, we got our food to go. The restaurant comes highly recommended by Robyn at the eating Asia blog, and what we tried, including the pizza below from their wood fired oven was good. My mother had several meals there a month later and enjoyed them as well. Datli Maya, Türkgücü Cd 59 Firuzağa Mh., 34440 Istanbul, Turkey

Nar Lokanta restaurant is located inside a high end department store near the Grand Bazaar’s Nuruosmaniye gate. The menu is a modern take on Anatolian cuisine and supposedly features all-natural regional products. The interior is also very modern and the service, very professional. This was probably one of our most expensive meals made only slightly odd by the fact that we arrived incredibly early for dinner and were the only people in the very large restaurant. Nar Lokanta; Ç. Nuruosmaniye Cd 65 Mollafenari Mh., 34126 Istanbul, Turkey Monday-Saturday, 12:00pm-12:00am; Sunday, closed

We ate at the Mesale Cafe (Arasta Carsisi 45) twice. It’s in Sultanhamet, right inside the Arasta Bazaar. One of the best things is that they have a woman who sits there hand making fresh Gozleme to order. Of course we had to have one (or two) with spinach and cheese thankyouverymuch.

At Mesale, we also had chicken shish, flatbread, and a fantastic eggplant dip. They have hookahs for rent if you so desire.



We went to Sultanahmet Köfteçisi on our first night in Istanbul. Its location, right in the center of Sultanahmet made it an easy choice to walk to from our hotel and we were not disappointed. There’s not much choice on the menu, but that’s fine. We had grilled lamb shish kabab, grilled kofte meatballs and a white bean salad washed down with coke in tiny bottles (no alcohol served here). It was a perfect first meal.  Sultanahmet Köfteçisi; Divanyolu Caddesi 12A, Sultanahmet (the main street with the tramway) Tel: +90 212 513 14 38. Open: Daily from 9 a.m. till 11 p.m. Credit cards are accepted.

One night we had pudding for dinner. Yes, it’s true. We’d had a late afternoon “happy hour” with a couple of Efes beers and that, combined with jet lag had knocked us out for a few hours. We woke up late, not very hungry, yet went out in the rain to get something. We ended up at this tea house, almost right next door to  Sultanahmet Köfteçisi. In their window, they have shelves of multi colored puddings and as you enter the shop, there’s a candy section filled with freshly made Turkish delights of all flavors and colors. We had tea and pudding and it was delightful.


  • Turkey's For Life

    Wow, a great write up and photos. I found this post because Brett Domue shared it with our Turkish Food Community on G+. Glad he did. We’ve eaten at a few of those places, a couple are on our list and a couple we didn’t even know about. Love how much filling the lady is putting into that gözleme! 🙂

  • Stefanie

    My husband and I have been to Istanbul but were on a very strict budget so didn’t get to sample a lot of restaurants that were beyond our means at the time. But we loved it anyway.

    I actually wanted to comment on your last poast from January on Morocco, but sadly you’ve closed the comments, so I’m posting here. We’ve been to Morocco twice, the first time in 2000 when we went to Merekesh and south to the desert, and the second time in 2004 when we crossed into Tangiers from Spain and made our way to Fez and Meknes. We absolutely adore Morocco and feel that it has some of the most friendly people on the planet. Does that mean we were never harassed? Absolutely not! We had some really agressive tauts in Meknes wanting desperately to be our guides and I was weary from travel and was having none of it. We did have a guide through the souk in Fez which we later regretted because he had his own agenda and we’d preferred to have wandered at our leisure.

    But we had some incredible experiences on both trips, especially the first. On that trip we were invited twice to people’s homes for meals, and as you say, that’s where you get truly authentic food. I also felt the lack of interaction with females, except as we got close to the desert and came across Berber women who actively sell in the markets. I wonder if part of the issue now is that Morocco is experiencing the same economic downturn that everyone else is and they are hit especially hard, so people rely heavily on tourism. That means that the tauts would be particularly agressive in going after those who come there way.

    And lastly, everyone we met in Islamic countries were always surprised to see Americans. Our fellow countrymen seem to be intimidated due to bad press about these countries. We’ve been to both Turkey and Morocco but also Indonesia and Malaysia and found people extremely welcoming. I hope you can go back again to Morocco and see more of the good part of it. As you say, there is much that is positive; forget about the guy wishing you bad luck. He’s one in a million. The rest are like the poor gentleman we met on the train to Fez who told us after we said we thought Moroccans were some of the friendliest people in the world, “If you came to my house, you’d not spend so much as a penny!”

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