Heading to Istanbul? Then we hope you've got an appetite. The city is bursting with first-class restaurants, cute cafes, and tempting diners. Whether you indulge in traditional kofte, flavorsome kebab, or tooth-meltingly sweet baklava, the one thing you won’t be leaving Istanbul with is an appetite (although a few extra pounds are par for the course). To help you out on your culinary journey, we’ve rounded up the ten best places to eat in Istanbul.
1. Buhara Ocakbasi Restaurant
Where: Alemdar Mah. Nuruosmaniye Cad. No: 7 Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34440 Turkey
If you're in the mood for a light lunch or a healthy supper, Buhara Ocakbasi Restaurant could be what you’re looking for. Famous among locals for its light, bright menu and superb selection of seafood, it’s lively, fun, affordable, and, unsurprisingly, the kind of place you’ll want to go back to again and again.
2. Community Kitchen Vegan Restaurant
Where: Kumbaraci Yokusu No: 57, Istanbul 34000 Turkey
If you’re a meat-avoider who’s worried you won’t find anywhere decent to eat in Istanbul, don’t panic. Istanbul has no shortage of vegetarian restaurants, and while vegan restaurants are a little thinner on the ground, look hard enough and you’ll not find yourself short on options. Among them is Community Kitchen Vegan Restaurant, a delightful find that combines gorgeously tempting vegan nosh with the kind of hospitality guaranteed to leave a smile on your face. The communal dining arrangements (rather than being seated on separate, small tables, diners are invited to join their fellow guests at one of two long, communal dining tables) is a great way of getting the talk flowing and the place buzzing.
3. Loti Cafe & Roof Lounge
Where: Divan Yolu Caddesi No:27 Fatih, Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34112 Turkey
Great food, great ambiance, great views, and great music…. where are we? Loti Cafe & Roof Lounge, of course, a highlight of Istanbul's restaurant scene and a fabulous place to enjoy the best of Turkish hospitality while taking in some truly breathtaking views over the city. It’s also in one of the most attraction-heavy parts of Istanbul, with the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Archeology Museum, Sultanahmet and Closed Caves all within walking distance. If you've worked up an appetite during your sightseeing, the Loti Cafe & Roof Lounge is the perfect place to sit back, relax, and enjoy some first-rate grub.
4. Kucukoglu Barbecue Restaurant
Where: Prof. Kazim Ismail Gurkan cd. no:2 kat:2 Alemdar Mh, Istanbul 34110 Turkey
If you want to taste some authentic Turkish barbecue while you’re in Instanbul, there’s one place to head: Kucukoglu Barbecue Restaurant. Fresh, tender, flavorsome meat, meltingly delicious seafood, and more accompaniments and relishes than you’ll know what to do with… if you’re still hungry by the time you leave, it’ll be a miracle.
5. KAHVE 6
Where: Anahtar Sokak No. 13,Cihangir, Beyoglu, Istanbul Turkey
KAHVE 6 is a favorite hangout with the creative types of Istanbul. If you want to enjoy some of the city’s most delicious delicacies, do yourself a favor and join them. With a pretty little patio to chill on, a cute and quirky vibe, and a menu that’s packed with light ‘n’ bright snacks and deliciously tempting small dishes, it’s a great place to pull up a chair, appease your grumbling tummy, and enjoy the atmosphere.
6. Lotiz Lounge & Hookah
Where: Vidinli Tevfik Pasa Cad. No:14 Balabanaga Mahallesi, Istanbul 34134 Turkey
If you want to experience an authentic Istanbul restaurant, try Lotiz Lounge & Hookah. Offering a fabulous range of traditional Turkish dishes (and with a few European classics added for good measure), outstandingly hospitable service, a warm welcome, and the kind of ambiance that will live on in memory long after the indigestion has passed, it’s one of Istanbul’s most popular eateries.
7. Cukurcuma Antiques & Café
Where: Cukur Cuma Cd. No:52A Firuzaga Mahallesi, Istanbul 34425 Turkey
Cukurcuma Antiques & Café is more than just a place to eat. Padded out in vintage furniture and gorgeous antiques, it’s a place to sit back, relax, and enjoy what has to be one of the more beautiful decors of any restaurant in Istanbul. But that’s not to say the food is any less impressive. Whether you opt for a light brunch of avocado on toast or a midday pick-me-up of Turkish coffee and baklava, you won’t be disappointed.
8. Divella Bistro Restaurant
Where: Cankurtaran Mah. Akbıyık Cad. Adliye sok. No:11/A, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
Over on Trip Advisor, Divella Bistro Restaurant ranks as one of the best places in Istanbul to eat. Looking at some of the reviews, we understand why. With one reviewer saying “We tried here last night. We had good seafood and Turkish kebab. They served mixed mezze plate for start was very good. After food they Offer us katmer Turkish desert .we loved here they were we friendly people. Highly recommend to go here”, and another adding “We Find very good restaurant at Tripadvisor they have very good review they really deserve 5star because the food is amazing and very clean restaurant waiter very polite and kind highly recommended very close to all the museum in sultanahmet we will definitely go back again”, it’s easy to understand the appeal.
9. Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi Selim Usta
Where: Alemdar Mh., Divan Yolu Cd. No:12
Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi Selim Usta is one of roadiscalling.com’s top restaurant picks in Istanbul. We relate. The menu might be limited (expect Kofte, Kofte, and yet more Kofte) and it might get a little packed at lunchtimes, but it’s masterful way with a meatball, an onion, and a handful of spices is hard to fault. Considering it’s a fast food joint, don’t expect too much in the way of silver-service. But if you're happy to wait in line, you won’t find yourself disappointed with either the quality, flavor, or cost of your Kofte.
Where: Asmalimescit Mah. General Yazgan Sok. No: 3 Beyoglu, Istanbul Turkey
Antiochia ranks as one of Lonely Planet’s top picks for places to eat in Istanbul. Little wonder. Specializing in dishes from the southeastern city of Antakya, it’s THE place to enjoy some cold and hot mezes, pides, and kebaps. The lahmacun (a type of Arabic-style pizza), meanwhile, is likely to be the best piece of pie you’ll ever wrap your lips around. With prices averaging at between ₺65 to ₺105, it’s also exceedingly good value.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
Read more posts by Lily Wordsmith