The location of a country like Turkey can deeply affect the versatility when it comes to cooking style, flavour and presentation of food. Set right in the middle of Western Europe and Eastern Asia, separated by the Bosphorus strait, the country is connected historically with Greek, Persian, Roman and Ottaman empire influences. I found Turkish cuisine sophisticated, high quality and generally very healthy. All of the Turkish restaurants I visited, only used the freshest local ingredients as possible and all items were made on-site. Although my restaurant selections are located in different coasts, each stick to traditional Turkish roots while offering a variety of flare, ambience and vibe. Turkey is definitely a must visit foodie destination. Here are the top restaurants I enjoyed and will for sure leave a lasting impact to any traveller.
Tugra restaurant is located inside the iconic and luxurious Ciragan Palace in Istanbul. Get ready to dine like royalty as if you were re-living the days of the Ottaman empire. The menu is lavish, elegant and historically inspired. The service was world-class and you can feel the vibe of Istanbul while seated in between old marble columns on the terrace while looking over the stunning Bosphorus with the sight of the Asian shore across the strait. The attention to detail and overall experience was excellent.
Gram is a casual restaurant in Istanbul by Chef Didem Senol. Considered one of Istanbul’s most popular chefs, Senol is also an author and owns another restaurant called Lokanta May located also in Istanbul. She is known for her special “pulse based recipes’. Pulse is an edible seed which includes lentils, beans and peas and high in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals which she uses in her popular mezzes, a very important part of the Turkish food culture. Chef Didem is known to put a contemporary twist on her dishes and make pulse dishes look hip and exciting while sticking to tradition Turkish cooking methods.
This earth and sea to table concept by Chef Sedat Arslan will leave any traveller in awe when it comes to the unique flavours and presentation. Kapha is a hip, upscale casual establishment in Alacati on the property of the luxurious Alavya Hotel. You will find incredible selection of exciting cocktails by award winning master mixologist, Kutay Ozoktay. The restaurant offers a hip, dark and fun atmosphere with a wine sommelier who is ready to educate you on their best wine selections. The menu offers a variety of seafood, meat and plant-based dishes highlighting the best of Aegean cuisine.
4. Kose Kahve
Don’t be fooled by this small café in Alacati. Owned by a husband and wife duo who are long time residents of Izmir, it’s a simple, chic popular café perfect for lunch. Their selection of freshly made mezzes and the soup left me really inspired. This café is also considered the oldest café in the area.
5. Asma Yapragi
If you want local and Turkish food done right, you will find it here in this intimate restaurant in Alacati. The setting is authentic, just like you are hosted in someone’s backyard. White linens on wooden tables set on pebble grounds, the service was impressive. Proprietor and chef, Ayse Nur Mihci shops in the local market and picks fresh herbs daily herself when preparing her limited menu selection for the day. Just know during the summer season, it is very hard to get reservations so booking in advance is recommended.
6. Fuoco Restaurant
Fuoco Restaurant is located inside the chic, luxury award winning boutique hotel, Bey Evi. The property is owned by a husband and wife duo. The wife is a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef and the restaurant offers an intimate setting with an eclectic menu. You will find a wood oven right in the middle of the courtyard where they prepare their famous Turkish pitas.
7. Ferdi Baba Restaurant
Ferdi Baba Restaurant is a seafood restauarant located at the Alacati Port that offers a spectacular marina view. The restaurant serves only the best selection of seafood from the area. The moment you step foot at the front of the restaurant, you will see a rack of drying fish and as you walk, a display of fresh caught fish on ice welcomes you to an unforgettable seafood experience. The service and wine selection were outstanding and the seabass dish is a staple that will melt in your mouth guaranteed.
8. Seki Restaurant
Seki Restaurant is located inside the property of Argos in Cappadocia hotel. The restaurant has one of the best scenery when it comes to dining in Cappadocia. The breathtaking view, will make you not want to go anywhere else. The simple, fresh selection of set menu items and carefully curated wine list with spot-on service will take your gastronomic journey to the next level.
9. Babayan Cave Village House Restaurant
Luxury dining is not all about black ties, tuxedos, extensive wine list, big menus and white linen tables. This restaurant was one of my most memorable food experience. I was captivated watching the traditional ancient cooking methods by the chef using the Tandir oven. The smells, presentation, the jaw dropping view of the restaurant is an experience nobody can miss while in Cappadocia.
10. Old Greek House Restaurant
Old Greek House Restaurant is one of those gems you would want to visit in the small town of Mustafapasa in the heart of Cappadocia. The restaurant is at the lobby of the mansion hotel and considered one of the most famous restaurants in the area, thanks to the owner’s wife Emine who you will find in the kitchen almost daily cooking traditional inspired Turkish dishes herself. Make sure you order their famous baklava for dessert.
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