Where to eat and drink in Istanbul
If for you visiting Istanbul means getting to know it also through its most authentic flavors and you are attracted by truly typical things, then you are on the right page.
The bars and restaurants in Istanbul are of an infinite number of types and in many different neighborhoods. But where to find real Turkish cuisine in Istanbul? Where to eat street food? Where to have a drink in Istanbul?
As in many metropolises, the best restaurants to eat at are quite far from the tourist spots, but Istanbul has exceptions. The secret to finding out if you eat well is always the same: before entering, check if there are Turkish customers!
However, the risk of getting the wrong idea about Turkish cuisine is quite high during a short vacation, especially without having advice on places to avoid.
One thing is certain, Istanbul, together with all its attractions and suggestions, will also captivate you for its excellent restaurants and bars with panoramic views. But keep reading this page so you don’t have any problems!
Istanbul: Bosphorus Night Dinner Cruise
Where to have a Turkish breakfast in Istanbul?
Let’s start in order: where to have a Turkish breakfast in Istanbul? Most of the specialized breakfast restaurants serve it practically all day and close in the afternoon, the other places usually serve it until 2 in the afternoon.
Go to these restaurants at least once and you won’t be disappointed, especially if you love big breakfasts.
The Turkish breakfast is mainly salty, with various courses. Most of the places have a fixed menu (Serpme Kahvaltı in Turkish) for at least two people, you pay per person and you will receive an endless string of saucers with savory dishes (tomatoes, olives and cucumbers are a must), many types of cheese , but also sweets, and make sure there is kaymak with honey, which is the best and sweetest thing that will be served, and of course bread at will.
In this type of breakfast a dish with eggs is always included, the most traditional being the menemen: the eggs are cooked by mixing them with tomato, peppers and cheese.
Among the most recommended areas to have a Turkish breakfast: Ortaköy (if you can, go on a week or weekend before noon), Bebek and Arnavutköy (if you stay a few more days in Istanbul, come and have breakfast close to Rumeli Hisari bus stop area. There is a host of breakfast restaurants!). If you want to combine a Turkish breakfast with a touristic tour, consider that near the entrance to the Dolmabahçe palace there is a seaside café that offers an excellent Turkish breakfast.
Where to find the best traditional restaurants in Istanbul?
Another experience to do at least once is to go to one of the traditional Turkish taverns, called meyhane, order various appetizers, called meze, and have a nice glass of rakı. In Istanbul there are many, some older and others more modern. Remember that on weekends you must always book in almost all restaurants in Istanbul.
It is difficult to advice the areas of the city where to find the best taverns. It also depends on your tastes. There are excellent tavernas in Taksim and Istiklal caddesi, in Cihangir area, in Kadiköy, but also in non-touristic districts such as Mecidiyeköy… and in the areas further away from a center. Even on the island of Burgazada there are sea taverns where the meze is simply delicious! Surely we do not recommend the Sultanahmet area, here the exceptions are very few. Although in recent years, even the most touristy restaurants are realizing that it is better to introduce real Turkish cuisine than to think only of economic gain.
About prices, there are restaurants where you can spend around 5-10 euros or some places where you spend 70-80 euros each. As in all large cities, it depends on the neighborhood and type. The most expensive neighborhoods are certainly those with more tourist attractions and those on the Bosphorus, such as Bebek (where there is also the well-known and expensive Nusr-Et restaurant) but even in these you can find a typical and cheap restaurant like Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi serving the best Köfte in the world at fair prices and opposite the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
Where to have a drink in Istanbul?
As mentioned for food, there is also a lot of choice for drinking!
If you are looking for a good çay or a Turkish coffee any neighborhood and street are perfect. Being the national drinks it is difficult not to find them good. Obviously, drinking a çay or a coffee is better with a view, therefore we advise you to choose panoramic places or one of the many places with a terrace.
Among the places I love the most there are certainly the Mimar Sinan Cafè, near the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Galata Konak Cafe, near the Galata Tower and Üsküdar on the steps on the Bosphorus in front of the Maiden’s Tower. But then again, finding good çays and good coffees in Istanbul is very easy!
If, on the other hand, you are looking for alcohol, you should know that you cannot find them in all places. If you go, for example, to traditional restaurants you will hardly be able to find them (apart from raki).
To drink good wine, beer or cocktails we advise you to choose the Beyoğlu area, which starts from Taksim Square and continues along the pedestrian street Istiklal Caddesi. From Thursday to Sunday, the place comes to life, with restaurants always full of people, lots of partying and live music that resounds from one club to another. Trendy shops and bars, clubs with live music and lots of young people. This is definitely one of the best areas to go out in the evening in Istanbul and have a good drink.
During the summer season, the best place to have a drink in Istanbul is on the banks of the Bosphorus. In the warmer months, the neighborhoods on the Bosphorus are ravaged by the population and the big clubs of Istanbul open their rooftop terraces with exceptional views of the Bosphorus and the Asian coast. On the Bosphorus, one of the most beautiful districts is certainly Ortaköy. Here it is a privilege to enjoy a drink and dance while looking at the Istanbul skyline, its historic and shining buildings and the Sea of Marmara. In the center of Ortaköy you will also find cheaper bars and clubs. You can also sit on the shore and grab a beer from a market, watch the sea and the boats.
In Karaköy, on the left bank of the Galata Bridge, the atmosphere is very hipster, almost every day there is a new bar, restaurant or new club. Most of the bars serve delicious and sophisticated food, great alcoholic drinks and then turn into a dance floor with good music.
On the Asian side, in Kadiköy you will find streets full of old wooden buildings that now house trendy bars, restaurants and cafes. It is a cleaner, more welcoming and quieter area of Taksim, although most of the bars close after 1.00. Bagdat Street is the most famous street in the Kadiköy area. Besides being the center of shopping, there are bars and clubs which are a little more expensive than average. It is a 9-mile long road, parallel to the Sea of Marmara, which is very popular with young people who come here for shopping, having a coffee or a cocktail.
Back in Europe, don’t miss a drink in Beşiktaş. Here you can savor the authentic atmosphere of a Turkish neighborhood that has not yet felt the touch of gentrification. Around the fish market there are taverns serving seafood and raki. Other places are mostly visited by young people. Prices are average, not expensive. Except for the nightclubs located on Akaretler Street. Here you can find luxurious bars, lounges and clubs!
Restaurants and bars recommended by the Visit Istanbul team
360 is an exclusive restaurant, bar and club in Istanbul where you can admire the city in 360 degrees
Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi
Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi is a Turkish restaurant where you can eat the best köfte in the world.
Galata Konak Cafè
Galata Konak Cafè is a cafè, bar, restaurant located near the Galata Tower with a great view.