Where To Eat In Istanbul – A Guide For All Budgets

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Best Restaurants In Istanbul – A Guide For All Budgets

If you’re a foodie looking for a city to cater to your needs, look no further than Istanbul, Turkey.

For sure, Istanbul is a historic city with plenty of culture and buildings that look like they haven’t aged a day since when they were initially built (centuries ago, in most cases), but it’s also a favorite for those who adore food.

Put simply, there is no food you won’t find in Istanbul. But the problem is that it’s so immense that you can easily miss somewhere amazing simply because you’re unsure of where it is or don’t even know it exists.

The good news? We’ve got some of the best restaurants in Istanbul recommendations for you. These are places you HAVE to put on your visit list if you want to really enjoy the best food in Istanbul. 

Şehzade Cağ Kebap

A cağ kebap is a Turkish dish made of lamb, yogurt, and spices. It is considered to be one of the world’s best kebabs, so be sure to try it if you go to Turkey. This lamb is slow cooked over a charcoal fire, and the yogurt keeps it moist and flavorful. Spices add a nice depth of flavor to the dish, and the result is a delicious kebab.

The best place to have one in Istanbul is at xx. They offer great prices and warm and attentive service. For less than 600 Turkish Lira, we had four kebabs carved from slow-roasted meat on the coals, flatbreads, salad, tomatoes, onions, thick and creamy yogurt, salsa, drinks, and dessert.

It’s tucked away in some back streets, so finding it is the only drawback – but it’s worth it, I promise

Corner Irish Bar, Taksim

Turkey Travel Blog_Best Places To Eat And Drink In Istanbul_Corner Irish Bar, Taksim
Photo Credit: Corner Irish Bar, Taksim

Asmalı Mescit, Meşrutiyet Cd. No:11/A Galatasaray, 34430 Beyoğlu

The fact that you’re visiting an Irish bar in the middle of Istanbul might raise a few eyebrows. You should surely go for the authentic fare as much as possible, but a few hours in this particular place will make you feel welcome in such a large city.

It’s a cozy bar with all the latest sports on the TV and every type of alcohol and beer you can think of, and it also has some of the best food in Istanbul – pub style, of course! The burgers here are delicious! This is definitely a spot to head on a cold evening to enjoy a cozy, upbeat atmosphere.

Sultan Palace Cafe & Restaurant, Sultanahmet

Sultan palace cafe restaurant_ Testi Kebab_Pottery Kebab meal Mate 5

Alemdar, Biçki Yurdu Sk. No 3, 34122 Fatih

Visiting Sultanahmet during your time in Istanbul is a must. This is the most historic part of the city and where you’ll find the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. Just opposite Blue Mosque and on a back street, you’ll find a maze of authentic Turkish restaurants serving Ottoman-style cuisine. Be sure to try their Ottoman casseroles and kebabs. Whenever we are asked where to eat in Istanbul, we suggest the Sultan Palace Cafe & Restaurant. This is undoubtedly one of the yummiest restaurants in Istanbul.

The price may not be super-low, but their delicious food is more than worth it. The service is also second to none, and you’ll probably spend a few hours enjoying the vibrant atmosphere and traditional music.

We were struggling with what to eat with a decent menu of options to choose from. Roko knew he wanted to try a kebab, while Vladimir was keen on a meat pide – hubby and I was scratching our heads and tossing up what to choose when the waiter made suggestions for us. 

Love that.

So, what to eat there? Well, I got the Iskender kebab, while the server suggested a hot and entertaining meal for Mr. Chasing the Donkey. He got the flaming testi kebab, also known as a pottery kebab. 

Testi kebabs are a traditional dish from Turkey. The dish is made by slow-cooking meat and vegetables in a clay pot (testi means clay in Turkish), which helps to infuse the flavors and create a succulent meal.

The key to making great testi kebabs is to use fresh, quality ingredients. The meat is marinated overnight in a mixture of spices and yogurt before being cooked slowly over low heat for hours. This allows the flavors to really develop and penetrate the meat, resulting in a tender and juicy dish.

Testi kebabs are an ideal option for those looking for a hearty and satisfying meal and one for the IG. Vegetables such as onions, carrots, and potatoes are added to the pot, which not only adds flavor but also helps bulk out the meal. The dish is then reheated in flamed at your table – which is super fun to watch.

While there, I suggested you also try the platter of dips – meze as it’s known. It came with bread and was tasty.

Five Brothers Kahvalti Cafe, Besiktas

Sinanpaşa, Çelebi Oğlu Sk. No:26, 34353 Beşiktaş

You’ve no doubt heard about the famous Turkish breakfast. Well, in Besiktas, a street of restaurants is dedicated to serving this fantastic morning meal. Breakfast here goes on until around 6 pm!

Five Brothers is undoubtedly a favorite, and it has a vast range of extras you can add to your regular breakfast. Try their gozleme, menemen, pisi, and wash it down with plenty of traditional cay (tea). You won’t be hungry for a good few hours afterward, and you’ll get a lot of food for your cash!

Betro Burger, Besiktas

Turkey Travel Blog_Best Restaurants In Istanbul For Any Budget_Betro Burger, Besiktas
Photo Credit: Betro Burger, Besiktas

Sinanpaşa, Şair Nedim Cd. No:26 A, 34357 Beşiktaş

This isn’t an average burger. Betro Burger is an experience like no other and if you’re in the Besiktas area (highly recommended), check out this place. It’s always busy, so do be aware that you may need to wait for a table occasionally, but never more than ten minutes or so.

Burgers here are baked and enclosed in thin pita bread. They also throw in a free chocolate calzone with your order, so it’s a complete meal! It’s almost like a burger pie, but it’s the most succulent, delicious burger you’ll ever try in your life.

Karadeniz Doner Asim Usta, Besiktas

Mumcu Bakkal Sokağı No:6, Besiktas

This isn’t any old doner meat. If you check out the ‘best places to eat in Istanbul’ sites, you’ll always find this on there. It’s one of the most famous doner places in the entire city, and it’s been in operation since 1971. That should tell you a lot about it!

This is a tiny place, a street cafe if you will. But you can sit upstairs if the Istanbul weather isn’t feeling too warm. You’ll always queue, and sometimes the queue can be pretty large, but that should tell you it’s good! Once the doner is gone, the cafe closes for the day, but it’s the most delicious doner you’ll ever try in your life.

Wama’s, Taksim

İstiklal Cd. no:157, Beyoglu, Taksim

I have been to Wama’s countless times, I’m talking double figures here, and I’ve never had a bad meal. Every single time I ended up blown away, I definitely added this to your foodie list in Istanbul.

The menu is huge, and you can watch the chefs cooking your meal right in front of you in the open kitchen. You’ll find food from all over the world, including traditionally cooked lamb chops, tacos, homemade pizzas (made from scratch – you can see them twirling the pizza base around!), lasagne, and even Chinese food. This is a proper all-rounder restaurant, so if you’re visiting with family, there will be something for everyone.

Esmer Cafe & Restaurant, Taksim

Turkey Travel Blog_Best Restaurants In Istanbul For Any Budget_Esmer Cafe & Restaurant, Taksim
Photo Credit: Esmer Cafe & Restaurant, Taksim

İstiklal Cd. No:40, Beyoglu

Esmer is an Italian restaurant, and the pasta offered here will make your mouth water. They also serve homemade pizzas, and you can watch the chef making them in front of you. The restaurant is small and has two floors, but if you can, try to sit outside to watch the busy Istiklal crowd as you enjoy your mouth-watering food. It’s definitely one of the best restaurants in Taksim, if not the whole of Istanbul, and the prices are pretty reasonable considering that it’s a top restaurant in the middle of the city.

Salt Bae Burger, Galataport, Karakoy

Kılıçali Paşa Mah. Meclis-i Mebusan Cad. No: 8 İç Kapı No: 102, 34433 Beyoğlu

Galataport is a new addition to our best food in Istanbul list, and it’s a great place to enjoy shopping, coffee, views, and great food. You’ve undoubtedly heard of Salt Bae and the famous Nus’ret restaurants. Thankfully, this place doesn’t set you back several paychecks for a burger, and it’s a lower-cost option for those who want to try his delicious burgers.

There are only burgers here, although you can try sliced meat if you want to. Be sure to check out the famous Salt Bae burger, the original one. It’s super juicy and oh-so-delicious. Every burger comes with a set of black gloves to protect your hands from the juices. A word of warning – only order the double burger if you’re super-hungry; even a single one will fill you up for hours.

Nevizade Kadir’in Yeri, Taksim

Hüseyinağa, Nevizade Sk. 6/A, 34435 Beyoğlu

You can’t visit Istanbul and not have the whole fish and raki experience. Nevizade is a backstreet off Istiklal Street famous for balik (fish) and raki restaurants. It’s narrow, loud, and always busy, but it’s an authentic experience. Nevizade Kadir’in Yeri is one of the best and has a huge menu of different types of fish. You don’t have to have raki, but if you do, be sure to pick a few meze to go with it.

Some traditional musicians move around the street and will stand and serenade you for a tip.


Turkey Travel Blog_Best Restaurants In Istanbul For Any Budget


Adana Ocakbasi, Sisli

Bozkurt Mahallesi, Bay Sungur Sk. No:2, 34375 Şişli

Adana Ocakbasi may not look like much. It’s tiny and looks like it wouldn’t be amazing, but that’s where you learn a very crucial lesson – never judge a book by its cover! Trust us when we say it is one of the best places to eat in Istanbul, you only have to mention this restaurant to any local, and they’ll tell you how fantastic it is. It’s the single best place to try Adana kebab, a meat kebab served with tomatoes, peppers, and onions, with pitta bread. You can also try raki here if you want to spend a little time watching the chef prepare your meal.

Hocapasa Pidecisi, Fatih

Hoca Paşa Mahallesi, Ankara Caddesi & Hoca Paşa Sokak No:11, Fatih

The fact that this particular restaurant has been around since 1964 says a lot. The restaurant is small in Sirkeci, Fatih but packs a serious punch. This is one of those places you could easily miss if you didn’t know it was there.

Hocapasa Pidecisi served pide (flatbread) with a range of different toppings, made to order. Kiyma is a personal favorite, which is minced beef and onion, but you can also try pastirma, cheese, potato, and the list goes on.

You’ll be able to watch them making the pide as you wait for yours to be cooked. It’s a real experience and a pretty low-cost one. Be sure to wash it down with ayran, a traditional Turkish yogurt drink.

Borsam Tasfirin, Kadikoy

What To Eat In Turkey - Turkish Food - Lahmacun

Osmanağa, Serasker Cd. No:78, 34714 Kadıköy

If you are on the Asian side of the city and want to know where to eat in Istanbul. Look for the vibrant Kadikoy, which is packed with places to eat. But if you want to try lahmacun (you must, it’s delicious), then Borsam Tasfirin is one of the best places to go. It’s been there for more than 30 years, and the chef is seriously experienced.

Lahmacun is made to order in a wood-fired oven, and you can watch as they do it. Be sure to wrap plenty of salad inside your lahmacun and a good squirt of lemon before you eat it. Again, try ayran if you want the authentic experience, but cola is just as good!


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