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Discover the 12 Best Restaurants in Istanbul 2024 | Must-Try Dining Spots!

Discover the 12 Best Restaurants in Istanbul 2024 | Must-Try Dining Spots!

You don't need to search further to find Istanbul's most outstanding dining establishments. This is your best restaurant guide in Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul, Turkey, is the only city you must consider if you're a foodie searching for a place to satisfy your cravings.

Istanbul is a popular destination for foodies, but it's also a historic city with a wealth of history and structures that appear to have stood the test of time—many of them dating back centuries.

Nonetheless, Istanbul offers every type of food imaginable. However, the issue lies in its sheer size—you risk missing something remarkable just because you don't know where it is or even that it exists.

The favourable tidings? Here are some suggestions for some of Istanbul's best restaurants. If you want to eat the best food in Istanbul, these are the locations you really should visit.

Best Restaurants in Istanbul 2024

Lale Lokantasi

You might think it would be hard to get real food in the middle of Taksim, and for the most part, it is until you encounter Lale Lokantasi!

When sampling a variety of traditional meals, this is a real gem. The menu constantly changes, and the arrangement is nearly "buffet style"; you indicate what you want, and the waitress will spoon it into a bowl and place it on your tray.

These restaurants are self-serve and are a common sight in Istanbul. They're also an affordable, quick meal option.

  • Location: Keçeci 50, 34000 Beyoğlu
  • Concept: A buffet-style eatery in Taksim offering a variety of traditional dishes in a casual, self-service setting.
  • Flexibility: The daily changing menu means there's always something new to try, perfect for a quick and affordable meal

Şehzade Cağ Kebap

A cağ kebap is a lamb, yoghurt, and spice meal from Turkey. If you visit Turkey, make sure to taste the kebab—it's regarded as one of the greatest in the world. This lamb is delicious and moist because of the yoghurt and slow cooking over a charcoal fire. The meal gains excellent flavour from the spices, making the kebab incredibly tasty.

It's hidden away in a corner of busy streets, but I assure you it's worth the search.

  • Speciality: Exquisite Turkish lamb kebab, marinated in yoghurt and spices, slow-cooked to perfection over charcoal.
  • Ambience: Hidden treasure amidst the chaotic streets, offering a cosy dining experience with exceptional service.
  • Cost: Affordable, with lavish portions ensuring a fulfilling meal without a hefty price tag.

Pandeli Restaurant

A genuine hidden gem with a Michelin star, no less, can be found directly within the Egyptian spice bazaar! Established over a century ago by Pandeli, a Greek immigrant to the city, the eatery has been a beloved local fixture for many years. Several famous people have visited to sample local cuisine; perhaps you'll spot one!

  • Location: Rüstempaşa Mah. Balık Pazarı kapısı Sokağı Mısırçarşı İçi 1, D:2, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul
  • Historical significance: Over a century old, founded by a Greek immigrant, Pandeli, it has become a hotspot for celebrities seeking authentic dishes.
  • Cuisine: Specializes in traditional recipes, offering a taste of history with

Eleven Brothers Kahvalti & Muftak Cafe, Besiktas

You've likely heard of the renowned Turkish breakfast in Besiktas, a street full of eateries specialising in serving this delicious breakfast. This place serves breakfast till about 6 p.m.

Unquestionably a favourite, Eleven Brothers offers a Vast range of extras that you might include in a standard breakfast. Sample their pisi, menemen, and gozleme, then wash it with lots of traditional cay (tea). You'll receive a lot of food for your money and only be hungry for a few hours after that!!

  • Location: Sinanpaşa, Çelebi Oğlu Sk. No:26, 34353 Beşiktaş
  • Highlight: Dedicated to serving an extensive Turkish breakfast well into the evening.
  • Variety: A vast selection of breakfast extras, including gozleme and menemen, paired with traditional cay (tea).
  • every bite.

Corner Irish Bar, Taksim Square

You may draw some strange looks being in an Irish bar in Istanbul. While you should try the genuine food as much as possible, spending a few hours here will make you feel at home in such a big city.

It's a cosy pub with a wide selection of alcoholic beverages, beer, and sports on TV. Of course, it also serves some of the best pub-style food in Istanbul! These burgers are delicious! If you want to take in a warm, lively environment on a chilly evening, this is the place to go.

  • Location: Asmalı Mescit, Meşrutiyet Cd. No:11/A Galatasaray, 34430 Beyoğlu
  • Vibe: A warm, inviting Irish bar in the heart of Istanbul, known for its friendly atmosphere and live sports screenings.
  • Food: Offers a delightful array of pub food, including some of the best burgers in town.
  • Experience: Perfect for a cosy evening, providing a homey feel in the bustling city

Sultan Palace Cafe & Restaurant, Sultanahmet

When in Istanbul, you must visit Sultanahmet. The Hagia Sophia & the Blue Mosque are, in this, the city's most historically significant area. Nestled on a side street, directly across from the Blue Mosque, is a tangle of authentic Turkish eateries specialising in Middle Eastern food. Make sure to sample their kebabs and Ottoman casseroles. The Sultan Palace Cafe & Restaurant is our first recommendation when people ask us where to eat in Istanbul. Without a doubt, one of Istanbul's best restaurants is this one.

Even though it's inexpensive, their mouthwatering meal is well worth it. In addition, the service is excellent, and you'll undoubtedly spend several hours taking in the lively ambience and live music.

  • Location: Alemdar, Biçki Yurdu Sk. No 3, 34122 Fatih
  • Menu: Features Ottoman casseroles and kebabs, promising an authentic taste of Turkish heritage.
  • Atmosphere: The vibrant setting and live music complement the delicious food and attentive service, making it a top recommendation.

Wama’s, Taksim

The menu is extensive, and the open kitchen allows you to see the cooks prepare your food in front of you. Food from all over the world is available, such as tacos, homemade pizzas (made from scratch; you can see them twist the pizza base around!), lasagna, and even Chinese cuisine. Traditional lamb chops are also available. This restaurant has something for everyone, making it an excellent choice for family travel.

  • Location: İstiklal Cd. no: 157, Beyoglu, Taksim
  • Menu: An all-rounder serving dishes from around the world, including homemade pizzas and Chinese food.
  • Experience: Watch chefs prepare your meal in an open kitchen, adding to the vibrant dining experience

Betro Burger, Besiktas

This burger differs from your typical one. If you're in the Besiktas neighbourhood, check out Betro Burger, as it's an experience unlike anything else. You might occasionally have to wait more than ten minutes for a table because it's always busy.

Here, burgers are baked and served inside fragile pita bread. They also throw in a free chocolate calzone with your order, so it’s a complete meal! It’s almost like a burger pie but the most succulent, delicious burger you’ll ever try.

  • Location: Sinanpaşa, Şair Nedim Cd. No:26 A, 34357 Beşiktaş
  • Unique Offer: Burgers wrapped in thin pita bread, served with a complimentary chocolate calzone.
  • Ambience: Always bustling, this spot offers a unique take on the classic burger, making it a must-visit in Besiktas.

Karadeniz Doner Asim Usta, Besiktas

This is not your average doner meat. This well-known restaurant is consistently included on lists of the "best places to eat in Istanbul" according to online resources. Having been open since 1971, it is among the most well-known doner spots in the city. That ought to give you a good idea of it!

This location is relatively small, akin to a street cafe. However, if it's not too hot outside in Istanbul, you can sit upstairs. There will always be a line; occasionally, there may be a long line, but that should indicate quality! It's the best doner you've ever had, but the cafe shuts for the day when it is gone.

  • Location: Mumcu Bakkal Sokağı No:6, Besiktas
  • Reputation: A street cafe renowned for its exceptional doner since 1971, featured on many 'best of' lists.
  • Note: Expect queues, but the wait is a testament to the quality of the food.

Esmer Cafe & Restaurant, Taksim

This Italian eatery, Esmer, serves pasta that will water your mouth. In addition, you can watch the chef prepare the housemade pizzas they serve. The restaurant is modest, with two floors, so if you can, try to sit outdoors and take in the bustling Istiklal throng while you tuck into some delicious meals. One of the best restaurants in Taksim, if not all of Istanbul, it's also reasonably priced for such a prestigious establishment in the city's heart.

  • Location: İstiklal Cd. No:40, Beyoglu
  • Speciality: Italian cuisine, with mouth-watering pasta and pizzas made in an open kitchen.
  • Setting: Offers indoor and outdoor seating, perfect for people-watching along Istiklal Street.

Salt Bae Burger, Galataport, Karakoy

Galataport is a recent addition to our list of Istanbul's top restaurants; it's a terrific spot for views, shopping, coffee, and delicious food. You've heard of Salt Bae and the renowned Nus'ret eateries. Fortunately, you won't have to spend many paychecks here to have a burger, making it a more affordable choice for anyone who wants to sample his mouthwatering burgers.

This place specialises in burgers, though you can also have sliced meat if you'd like. Make sure to sample the original, well-known Salt Bae burger. It's incredibly juicy and wonderful. Black gloves are included with every burger to shield your hands from the liquids. Order the double burger if you're starving because even one will keep you full for hours.

  • Location: Kılıçali Paşa Mah. Meclis-i Mebusan Cad. No: 8 İç Kapı No: 102, 34433 Beyoğlu
  • Meet with a Celebrity Chef: Offers a more accessible way to enjoy Salt Bae's culinary creations.
  • Tip: The burgers are juicy and sizable, with the option for a double burger for those with an enormous appetite.

Nevizade Kadir’in Yeri, Taksim

Visiting Istanbul and skipping the entire raki and fish experience is impossible. Famous for its raki eateries and balik (fish) restaurants, Nevizade is a side street off Istiklal Street. It's a hectic, crowded, and noisy but authentic experience. One of the greatest is Nevizade Kadir'in Yeri, which offers a wide variety of seafood on its menu; the sea bass was our favourite. Although it's not required, pair it with a few meze if you drink raki. A few street performers perform traditional music, standing & serenading you in exchange for a gratuity.

  • Location: Hüseyinağa, Nevizade Sk. 6/A, 34435 Beyoğlu
  • Experience: Authentic fish and raki dining in the lively backstreets of Nevizade, offering an authentic taste of Istanbul nightlife

Other Food Experiences In Istanbul

Istanbul beckons food enthusiasts with a plethora of culinary delights beyond traditional restaurant dining. To fully indulge in its gastronomic richness, explore additional experiences. Despite hygiene concerns, street food in Istanbul is a culinary adventure not to be missed, renowned for its delectable flavours and convenience. Opt for well-known areas like Sultanahmet, Kadikoy, Ortakoy, Besiktas, and Eminonu for the most satisfying experiences. While it's prudent to exercise discretion, bypassing street food entirely would mean overlooking a vital aspect of Istanbul's culinary landscape. Navigating Istanbul's vastness and tourist influx requires time and dedication to unearth its culinary treasures. Seek local recommendations for authentic Turkish cuisine, as they can guide you to hidden gems often overlooked by tourists, offering genuine flavours at more reasonable prices, particularly outside the central tourist hubs.

Participating in a food tour offers an ideal solution for those eager to swiftly delve into Istanbul's vibrant food culture. Renowned options such as the "Taste of Two Continents Food Tour" highlight the city's diverse culinary offerings across both sides of the Bosphorus, offering a comprehensive taste of Istanbul's gastronomic diversity. No visit to Istanbul would be complete without exploring the bustling Spice Bazaar, where authentic spices can be purchased to recreate Turkish flavours at home. Beyond its practicality, the bazaar entices visitors with its vibrant displays, making it a haven for photography enthusiasts seeking sensory delights.

Beverages and Sweets to Savor

  • Ayran: This salty yoghurt drink is popular among locals for its refreshing qualities.
  • Turkish Coffee: Known by its natives as "Turk kahve," this potent, earthy brew is a mainstay in cafes around Istanbul.
  • Çay: Turkish tea is ubiquitous in Istanbul, offering a warm welcome in nearly every setting.
  • Raki: Enjoying this anise-flavoured spirit alongside fish or kebabs in the evening is a tradition worth indulging in.

Iconic Sweets of Istanbul

  • Lokum (Turkish Delight): Available in myriad flavours, Turkish delight is freshest when bought by weight at local markets. It's a sweet treat not to be missed.
  • Kunefe: This cheese-filled pastry, soaked in syrup and honey, is a dessert highlight in many traditional eateries.
  • Baklava: No visit to Istanbul is complete without tasting baklava, ideally paired with Turkish ice cream for an extra treat.


Do these restaurants offer vegetarian or vegan options?

While Istanbul's dining scene is renowned for its meat-centric dishes, many restaurants offer vegetarian and vegan options to cater to diverse dietary preferences. Some establishments may have specific dishes or can accommodate requests for plant-based meals. It's advisable to check individual restaurant menus or inquire with staff beforehand to ensure a satisfying dining experience for vegetarians and vegans.

Family-friendly dining in Istanbul

Istanbul offers several family-friendly dining options suitable for both locals and tourists. Many restaurants feature welcoming atmospheres and menus catering to diverse tastes, making them ideal for families with children. Places like Lale Lokantasi, Eleven Brothers Kahvalti & Muftak Cafe, and Esmer Cafe & Restaurant provide ample seating, kid-friendly menus, and a relaxed ambience, ensuring an enjoyable dining experience for the whole family.

Are there any budget-friendly dining options in the Instanbul?

Yes, Istanbul boasts a range of budget-friendly dining options for travellers seeking delicious meals without breaking the bank. Restaurants like Şehzade Cağ Kebap, Sultan Palace Cafe & Restaurant, and Wama's offer affordable yet flavourful dishes, providing excellent value for money. Additionally, exploring Istanbul's vibrant street food scene can lead to discovering cheap and tasty local delicacies, offering a budget-friendly culinary adventure for visitors.