The Best Turkish Restaurants In Istanbul

Turkish Restaurants in Istanbul

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The best Turkish restaurants in Istanbul aren’t always the obvious ones. There are a lot of restaurants in the city that are simply just ok and aimed at tourists. Luckily there’s no shortage of incredible places to get all the Turkish staples, from the “olive oil” mezze’s to the array of main courses. Restaurants with Bosphorus views and hole-in-the-wall lokantasis that cost next to nothing for some of the best food you’ll ever have– there’s something for every budget and craving. 

If you’ve never had Turkish food before, you might come to turkey expecting that the food is similar to what you’ll find in the Middle East, i.e. falafel, hummus, etc. However Turkish food is much more diverse than that. With influences coming from ottoman cuisine, Kurdish and Mediterranean culture the Turkish kitchen is vast and changes depending on the region. While Istanbulers are proud of the food coming from the city, you can also find tastes from all over Turkey within the city. 

Now let’s get to the good part, answering the question that comes to everyone’s mind upon arrival, where should I eat in Istanbul? Here are the Best Turkish Restaurants in Istanbul: 

Çiya Sofrasi

Number one has to be Çiya Sofrası. Even though it’s on netflix’s Chef’s Table, its true claim to fame is its incredibly delicious menu. The restaurant was founded on the idea of preserving the traditional local food cultures from each region of Turkey. The menu changes depending on what’s in season– but there are some staples that stay on the menu year-round. 

I like to go up to the chef and ask what’s good today– they always know what to recommend and I am never disappointed. If you have a dietary regulation they are always well versed on what’s vegan or vegetarian friendly. Also, don’t skip the salad bar– they make some of the best “spicy dip” and dolma the city has to offer.

Where: Caferaga Mah. Güneslibahce Sk. No:43 Kadiköy

Vegan Friendly? Yes– Just ask and they will tell you which offerings are vegan


If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, Tuğra might be the most beautiful restaurant in all of Istanbul. Located inside the çirağan Palace, the restaurant is definitely suitable for a Sultan with its breathtaking views of the Bosphorus straight. 

It serves Ottoman-style cuisine that is prepared for fine dining. They offer a vegan option of Roasted Eggplant that comes with artichokes and “Kokoreç” style mushrooms that will even make carnivores’ mouths water. 

Do note that they require a “smart casual” dress code and flip-flips, shorts, and sportswear are not allowed in the restaurant.

Where: Ciragan Palace Kempinski Hotel, Ciragan Caddesi 32, Çiragan Cd, Besiktas

Vegan Friendly? Yes


Seasonal ingredients cooked over an open fire, enjoyed overlooking the Bosphorus– what more can you ask for? This Anatolian kitchen is hands down one of the best restaurants in Istanbul. Everything they make is bursting with flavor and looks like a piece of art. The menu changes seasonally, but the roasted vegetables on the summer menu can make even the most veggie-averted person come to their knees. 

While the terrace gives lovely views of the city, even the dining room is a great place to be. The open-style kitchen means that you can see the magic happening as they cook in their stone-fire oven– plus you’ll get to reap all the incredible smells.  

Where: Novotel Istanbul Bosphorus - Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa, Novotel Istanbul

Vegan Friendly? Yes


Alaf is a restaurant rooted in the nomadic cultures of Turkey. Taking cues from Yörük, Kurdish, Armenian, and Yezidi kitchens the menu is always changing, like the location of the nomad. Their goal is to create an opportunity to experience traditional tastes and cultural heritage in a different environment.

The restaurant itself is just as beautiful as the food. They have a large terrace with a retractable roof and an incredible view of the Bosphorus. With herbs hanging to dry and wood stacked up for the wood-fueled oven, the atmosphere is incredible. 

Where: Kuruçeşme, Kuruçeşme Cd. No:19

Vegan Friendly? sometimes

Sarihan ISkembe

Craving turkish food at 2 am? No problem. Sarıhan İşkembe is open 24/7. This staple in the istanbul food scene serves up some of the best çorba (soup) the city has to offer. Don’t worry– it’s not only soup, they have a full kitchen. From street food favorite, Halka Kokoreç to Turkish dumplings (Mantı). 

Although the interiors do look a little fancier than your average hole-in-the-wall, the prices are really affordable. It’s around 20 TL for a vegetarian or chicken-based soup, 40 TL for sepciality meat-based soups, and no more than 45 TL for the mains. Meaning you can have a full meal, including a drink for under $6. 

Other Istanbul Turkish Resturants to checkout

Where: Müeyyedzade, Kemeraltı Cd. No:22, Beyoğlu

Vegan Friendly? The Lentil and Ezogelin soups are vegan

Other honorable mentions for Turkish cuisine are:

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