Istanbul, Turkey Restaurants: Best Local Cuisine

PUBLISHED: May 19, 2019

As an intersection of cultures both ancient and modern, Istanbul offers unique culinary cuisine. Much of it is renowned the world over, and much of it is also extremely hard to find in decent quality anywhere else. For this reason, you absolutely must make it a point to not only visit the best restaurants Istanbul has to offer but find places offering the greatest presentation of foods Turkey is known for.

Enjoy a Turkish Breakfast

Turkish breakfast is a bit different than that or nearby Europe. Turks enjoy tea over coffee, and cucumbers and tomatoes are staples. You can also expect feta-like cheeses, olives, cream, butter, jam, honey, and eggs to be a big feature. Borek and sucuklu yumurta are the real surprises, however: these ingredients are, respectively, thin sheets of dough with minced meat, and dried, spicy sausage.

We recommend Emigan Sutis, as their dining environment is modern, bright, and refined. They also purchase all their ingredients locally. Everything is top-notch fresh.

Visit a Meyhane

Meze is a cold starter, as opposed to a full course, somewhat similar to tapas. A Meyhane is an establishment that serves meze along with cocktails. While you can find meze just about anywhere, seeing as how it’s a type of food, a meyhane is ideal to experience this uniquely Turkish style of cuisine.

For this, we recommend you visit Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi, which boasts an absolutely beautiful wooden interior complete with quaint relics and framed photos and art. It’s a lovely little place, the sort of place that makes you feel right at home but also prides itself in quality. And of course, their meze is among the best available in Istanbul. Don’t miss it.

Behold a cup of the best coffee available—Turkish coffee!

There are some places in the world that are known for their coffees. Among them are Italy and France. Each has a unique flavor and body, but you can discern definitely differences. What does not change is the clear commitment to passion and excellence represented in the brew.

Turkey is another such place, with some of the absolute best coffees in the world coming out of Istanbul. And when Turks, who are very serious about their coffee, look for the best, they go to Mandabatmaz. It is the Turkish gold standard, much like brands such as Illi Coffee are famous in and out of Italy. Luckily, it is easy to enjoy it right at the source in their own café. Of course, you can also enjoy pastries and other foods, but what you’re really coming for is the most flavorful and full-bodied cup of coffee you’ll have during your visit.

Enjoy a sweet Turkish Delight

If you’ve never had a Turkish Delight before, now is the absolute best chance. It is difficult to describe exactly what makes a Turkish delight so good and suffice to say they are too good for words.

Essentially, they are a simple, jelly-like candy covered in very fine powdered sugar, dating back an unknown number of years, possibly thousands. The traditional flavor is a very mild and pleasant rose flavor, but many others are available now.

You’ll find many places offering Turkish Delight, but we recommend a top-notch place specializing in deserts, such as Marmara Turkish Delight. It might sound odd to the uninitiated, but trust us, this is one dessert you’ll be bringing back home.

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