The Best Restaurants in Istanbul
Collected by AFAR Editors, AFAR Staff
Grilled meats, bite-size vegetarian meze, and grilled octopus and sea bass are some of the culinary delights that await in Istanbul, where Mediterranean, Turkish, and Ottoman cooking methods combine to deeply satisfying (and sometimes surprising) results. Our favorite places to eat in this magical city range from chef Mehmet Gurs's fine-dining restaurant with a view to humble neighborhood spots for homestyle cooking.
The Marmara Pera Meşrutiyet Caddesi 15 34430, Beyoğlu, İstanbul, Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Known for its elevated approach to Turkish cuisine, as well as its elevated views of Istanbul from atop the Marmara Pera hotel, Mikla is ranked 51st in the World's Best Restaurants and should be at the top of your list for a memorable night...
Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi, Meşrutiyet Cd. 83/B, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Just across the street from the Pera Palace Hotel, Meze by Lemon Tree is an intimate restaurant—with seating for about 30—and a limited menu with four meat entrées and three fish ones. The main attraction, however, is the meze. Sometimes...
Bebek Mh., İnşirah Sokağı No:13, 34342 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
Chef Didem Senol's pioneering spirit and contemporary take on Turkish dishes make her one of the most interesting chefs in Istanbul, and she shares her culinary talents at Gram, a sort of upscale deli of slow and seasonal foods in the posh...
Caferağa Mahallesi, Güneşli Bahçe Sk. No:43, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Turkey
One day, I dragged my travel companions—a German, a Turk, and two New Yorkers—to Kadıköy, a neighborhood on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, to dine at Çiya. Everyone was cranky and hungry by the time we found it, but I...
Cihangir Mahallesi, Soğancı Sk. No:7, 34427 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
5.Kat (Floor 5), in Istanbul’s upscale Cihangir neighborhood, boasts a menu of gourmet cuisine and magnificent views of the Bosphorus in an elegant setting. The prices are a little more than what you pay elsewhere, but then there’s not...
Cihangir Mahallesi, Türkgücü Cad 55/A, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
A great deal of Turkish cuisine is unassuming but delicious comfort food: lentil soup, grilled meatballs, fried zucchini. These are the kind of dishes served at the homey café Mücver, open for lunch and possibly early dinner if they...
Tomtom Mah. İstiklal Cad. No: 181 K: 5-6, Tomtom Mahallesi, Merkez Han, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Every day millions of people walk down Istanbul’s famous Istiklal Street unaware of the nearby terrace restaurants offering magnificent cuisine and divine views of the Bosphorus Strait—among them, Divan Brasserie Beyoğlu. Opened in...
Şahkulu Mah., Kumbaracı Ykş. No:57, 34425 Tünel/Beyoğlu/Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Leb-i derya is one of those fabulous fancy restaurants perched high above the streets of Beyoğlu with amazing views of the Bosporus, Maiden’s Tower, Asia and old Istanbul’s peninsula. You could walk past the building so many times on its dimly lit...
Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi, OIivya Geçidi 7-A, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Istanbul’s location at the crossroads of continents has made it the hometown for many cultures. In 1924, Russians fleeing the Bolshevik Revolution opened the Rejans restaurant on Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue, and it acted as a meeting...
Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Hasırcılar Cd. No:14, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
If you need fuel in between bargaining at the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market in Eminönü, stop in for lunch at the restaurant above Namlı Pastırmacı. A language barrier won’t be a big issue, as you can point to whatever looks tasty; good bets...
Ömer Avni Mh., İnönü Cd. No:50, 34427 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Topaz is regarded as one of Istanbul's most elite upmarket restaurants and it’s the place to be if you wish to celebrate a special occasion. From their terrace restaurant you can indulge in their degustation or a la carte menus whilst the lights...
Teşvikiye mah.poyracık No:38 D:A, 34214 Şişli/İstanbul, Turkey
A proper Turkish kahvalti (breakfast) spread should cover the table with small, colorful dishes, including assorted cheeses, fresh tomatoes and cucumber, cured olives, and many varieties of jams and spreads. A proper Kurdish...
Hüseyinağa Mahallesi, Nevizade Sk. No:16, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
On Istanbul’s Nevizade Street, pushy waiters try to lure you into their restaurants, diners bump elbows in the narrow maze of outside tables, and boisterous revelers (and smokers, this is Turkey after all) shout over the street...
Rüstem Paşa Mah Tahmis Caddesi, Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Kalçin Sk. No:11, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
The best spot for kebaps and kunefe with a view is Hamdi Restaurant. An easy walk from Rustem Pasa, across from the New Mosque, downhill from the Grand Bazaar and a stone’s throw from the Spice Bazaar, Hamdi’s view sweeps the Golden Horn with the...
Kılıçali Paşa Mahallesi, Akarsu Ykş. 21/A, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
I started walking down Cihangir Street in search of a place with Wi-Fi and ran into Journey Cafe. Few tables, interesting book selection, crowd is a mix of locals and foreigners, all very enticing. Although I wasn't hungry I saw plates of very...
Alemdar Mh., İncili Çavuş Sk. No:15, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
On arrival to Istanbul, many tourists order the chicken şiş (chicken kebab) for a meal because it's familiar and safe, but they're really missing out on some of the best food in the world! I encourage anyone visiting Turkey to gastro-travel...
Alemdar Mah, Prof. K. Ismail Gurkan Cad No:14, 34122 Sultanahmet/Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
We took a friend's advice on what to order with little consultation of the menu. Imagine our surprise when our food was rolled out on its own table by a waiter wielding a blow torch! All eyes turned our way (much to our children's mortification)...
Tomtom Mahallesi, Kumbaracı Ykş. No:66, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Just off of Istanbul’s pedestrian shopping street, Istiklal Caddesi, Yeni Lokanta opened in 2013. Yeni means “new” in Turkish and the menu ventures in unexpected, surprising, and delicious directions, even if the décor,...
Cankurtaran Mh., Akbıyık Cd. No:26, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
In the early 1990s, a Greek family refurbished a charming Ottoman home and opened Albura on the cobbled streets of Akbıyık Caddesi. The quality had locals and travelers flocking, making Albura one of the most popular restaurants in Sultanahmet. In...
Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Kemankeş Cd., 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
The best restaurant in the Karaköy area is run by the sweetest owners, Oral Kurt and Aylin Okutan, and is rooted in the tradition of simple food and refined service. The Ottoman and Turkish menu includes dishes like hünkar...
Beyazıt Mh., Tığcılar Sk. No:56, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
If you've been pacing up and down the passages of the Grand Bazaar contemplating that perfect purchase, chances are you'll need refueling eventually. Hidden on a backstreet just outside gate 16 of the Grand Bazaar is the cozy and charming Keyf-i...
Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi, General Yazgan Sk. No:8, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
You've strolled the 1.5km of Istanbul's famous Istiklal Street for a spot of shopping, but hunger sets in and the purse strings are tight. Where do you go for a bite to eat? Answer: Helvetia, a modest lokanta (restaurant) tucked away on a quiet...
Alemdar Mh., Ticarethane Sk. No:8, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Rumeli Cafe is an ideal location for dining while people-watching from the streetside terrace in the bustling Sultanahmet neighborhood. Summertime sees the opening of a rooftop dining area, where guests can gaze at the stars and glimpse at the...
Caferağa Mh Moda Cd. &, Caferağa Mahallesi, Damacı Sk. No:4, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Turkey
When the crush of 14 million people (and what seems like an infinite number of rude taxi drivers) gets to you, Istanbul has a cure for what ails you: a peaceful ferry ride across the Bosphorus and a seat in the leafy garden at Viktor Levi wine...
Harbiye Mahallesi, Mim Kemal Öke Cd. No:19, 34367 Nişantaşı/Şişli/Şişli/İstanbul, Turkey
Considerably more upscale than your average deli, Delicatessen is consistently packed with Turkish minor celebrities and society types in the fashionable neighborhood of Nişantaşı. While you might not appreciate who is sitting at the next table,...
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