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From barbecued fish on the quayside at Eminonu to romantic restaurants serving new-wave fusion cuisine, Istanbul offers a full range of dining experiences. Gone are the days when eating out in Turkey meant a doner kebab from a street stall. You will still find these all over the city but even the humble kebab now comes in a variety of options. Traditional Turkish cooking is based on fresh local ingredients, especially lamb, fish and vegetables while ‘modern Turkish’ cuisine blends Turkish and global influences.
A restoran is a formal restaurant, while a lokanta is more casual, serving ready-prepared meals and grilled meat, but usually no alcohol. Meyhanes are taverns offering tapas-like mezes to share, while pide salonu specialise in pide (a pizza-type flatbread). For fresh fish, head for Kumkapi or the villages beside in Bosphorus.
Most restaurants are open from around noon to midnight. Smoking is ubiquitous and it is usual to leave about 10 per cent of the bill as a tip in restaurants. Istanbul has restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. Many international cuisines can be enjoyed but there are is great number of quality dining experiences serving traditional Turkish dishes that should be tried out while you visit this amazing city.
Read more on this destination in the AA Citypack Guide to Istanbul.
Recommended restaurants in Istanbul
Hamdi Et Lokantasi, Kalcin Sokagi 17 - A cake shop masks the entrance to this excellent restaurant, serving kebabs, grilled meats and Turkish dishes, on a rooftop terrace with views of Galata Bridge and the Golden Horn.
Imroz, Nevizade Sokagi 24 - One of the most popular places along the busiest restaurant strip in town, Imroz heaves with diners tucking into platters of mezes and grilled fish on weekend evenings.
Kanaat , Selmani Pak, Caddesi 25 - Founded in 1933, this large no-frills lokanta, a short walk from the ferry dock, serves dishes such as vegetables in olive oil and cucumber with yoghurt, as well as homemade desserts.
Korfez, Korfez Caddesi 78 - A smart waterfront restaurant with a summer garden on the Asian shore of the Bosphorus at Kanlica Korfez is reputed to serve some of the best fish in Istanbul including the house special, sea bass baked in salt. Reserve ahead and you can be picked up by the restaurants private boat which is moored at Rumeli Hisan on the European shore.
Vogue, Spor Caddesi 92 - Hang out with the beautiful people at this ultra-trendy Besiktas restaurant with a 13th floor rooftop terrace overlooking the Bosphorus and a menu that ranges in style from sushi to Turkish-Mediterranean fusion dishes.