Best Foodie Experiences in Istanbul

It may not be Paris or Rome but Istanbul’s culinary scene is a fusion of comforting bright spices, sticky honey soaked sweets and rich mezze platters. Blending the agricultural beauty of the Balkans with the exotics of the East, dining in Istanbul is an experience in itself. From mountain cheeses and ripe olives on wisteria filled rooftops to fresh herbs and tender meats in upscale restaurants, these are the best restaurants and foodie experiences in Istanbul for delectable dining.

Istanbul Best Foodie Experiences 1


Informal fun and outstanding Bosporus views can be found in the trendy restaurant sitting prettily above the museum. The creative flair of the arts spills over into the kitchen ensuring that traditional Mediterranean flavors are infused with passion. Modern tables are touched up with bright lighting, oak, brass and copper to deliver an evocative yet intimate feel. Start with the fresh tomato salad sprinkled with mountain herbs and almonds or deep fried zucchini flowers stuffed with Lor cheese. Let the grilled loin of lamb with sumac molasses slide from the fork and dark Turkish coffee ice cream with dried fruits and nuts.


With the banks of the Bosporus filled with sleepy eyed fishermen it’s no wonder Istanbul is a city of fresh fish dishes. From the strong scented markets to tiny ramshackle street stalls serving up salted fried sprats. Yet there is one fish restaurant that breaks the mold boasting a serene water inspired surrounding and the most unusual and divine fish mezze to share.

Fish Restaurant Istanbul 1

Fish is part of the achingly trendy Suada Club on Galatasary Island adrift in the middle of the Bosporus. With its river mouth views, cool yet casual décor and vibrant fish designs this is a fab foodie experience for lunch. Be sure to share the meze specials from the sea and the garden before delving into whole sea bass in lemon salt dough or spaghetti with squid ink. Of course lashings of raki is also encouraged in true Turkish fashion.

Fish Restaurant Istanbul 2


Mikla is what happens when you blend the delights of Turkish food with a touch of refined Scandinavian flair. The décor reflects the refined yet not too stuffy vibes with hints of white linen, low lighting, colors of wood and floor to ceiling windows boasting spectacular views.

Mikla Restaurant Istanbul 1

All the ingredients are handpicked from the Turkish hills, the ebbing blue sea and the city markets yet Finnish born chef Mehmet Gur’s blends ancient tradition with innovative techniques to bring out the best in each and every flavor. The tasting menu allows you to explore the delights of salted and dried beef tenderloin, green lentil hummus and ruby red pomegranates, slow cooked grouper, soft lamb shank and Anatolian raw milk cheese drizzled with the amber nectar of honey.

Mikla Restaurant Istanbul 2


Taste the flavors of the Ottoman Empire from six hundred years ago in the cultural relic of fine dining at the Asitane. High in the foothills overlooking the golden horn and sitting in the shadows of the Chora Church, Asitane belongs to one of the most historic areas of old Istanbul. Inside the restaurant boasts modern surroundings with clean white lines and wooden floors, in the summer you can dine in the pretty little garden under the rustling leaves of the lush green trees.

Asitane Restaurant Istanbul 1

The menu is inspired and bound by the lavish intricacies of the golden days with rich spices, freshly picked figs, dried apricots and tender home reared meats. The almond soup with grated nutmeg, the cheese and pea sailors roll dipped into honey and the lamb stew cooked with sweet apricots brings the delicate regal flavors to life. Be sure to finish with the creamy milk pudding brightened by saffron and swirled with honey.

Asitane Restaurant Istanbul 2

The Markets

For a truly authentic dining experience in the heart of old Istanbul the markets are a smorgasbord of fun and flavor. The heaped woven baskets of spice, the crackle of small fish being fried and the burnt faces of the old women ceaselessly kneading the pale stretchy dough will introduce you to a new side of the sultans city. In the maze of narrow streets you will find a treasure trove of taste set against a rich tapestry of timeless culture.

The Markets Istanbul

Image Courtesy:’sFalcon

In the grill house of Gaziantep Burç Ocakbaşi you can find morsels of meltingly good beef served with fragrant eggplant puree and lashings of garlic yoghurt. At the Aynen Dürüm you can stuff Lava bread with the flowing juices of lamb, plump tomatoes and bright sprigs of parsley. Throughout your journey through the winding markets you can sample fat stormy colored olives from the branch, clotted pale cheeses from the deep cuts of the mountains and the thickest spoonful’s of yoghurt elegantly draped in golden honey.


Jodie Oakes

Jodie Oakes

Jodie Oakes is a seasoned writer and an avid surfer with continuously itchy feet and a love of the finer things in life. After traveling through the continent with a touring band, living in Paris, Amsterdam and under the Auroras Borealis, she is now in Bulgaria where she attempts to piece together her first poetry collection.
Jodie Oakes