What are the best Istanbul food experiences?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Mickey Ashmore

From Ottoman-inspired dishes to some of the best kebabs in Turkey, Istanbul offers some excellent food experiences — these are our Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the best:
1. Fresh fish. There are few food experiences more enjoyable in Istanbul than a long meal filled with a variety of fresh seafood. Go to one of the restaurants along the Bosphorus strait and start with cold meze (shared appetizers), and then move to ara sıcak (hot appetizers) like fish köfte or grilled calamari. If you’re still hungry, finish off your feast with levrek (sea bass) or kalkan (turbot).

2. Brunch. Turks love a late brunch, with the city’s quintessential brunching grounds found just underneath the Rumeli Fortress. Here you’ll find a number of fantastic places for a leisurely meal, including crowd favorites like Kale Café, Nar Café and Sade Kahve.
3. Lunch in Asia. Istanbul spans parts of both Europe and Asia, so a trip to one or the other is just short boat ride away. Take the public ferryboat from the European side (either Beşiktaş, Karaköy or Eminönü ferry docks) to Kadiköy. Once you arrive, walk towards Moda and into the Kadiköy market center. Take your time to slowly explore the market, where you’ll find food stalls full of delicious fare such as dolma (peppers, eggplants and mussels stuffed with rice), cheese and other Turkish delicacies. For a sit-down meal head to Çiya Sofrası, which serves authentic Turkish cuisine from several regions of the country.
4. Street food. Some of Istanbul’s best eats are found on the street. Of particular acclaim is Emine Ana Tantuni, just off Taksim Square: The menu is small, but you will not be disappointed with the simple tantuni durum and housemade ayran (salty yogurt drink).
5. Fine dining with a view. Istanbul has a number of top-notch fine dining establishments, but Mikla stands out above the rest. This wonderful spot run by Turkish celebrity chef Mehmet Gurs serves both local- and Scandinavian-influenced foods; the cuisine is excellent, but our favorite perk is the elegant outdoor terrace, where you’ll enjoy immaculate views of the Bosphorus.

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