Turkey Holidays - Eating Out in Istanbul

by : Mike Norman

It is possible to find a restaurant to suit all budgets and all dining habits in practically every corner of Istanbul. In addition to places where one can find noteworthy samples of Turkish and world cuisine ranging from Japanese to Californian, it is also possible to encounter cosy cafes and buffets. Most of the cafes offer a quick bite, whereas bars are usually places for dancing and music, though some of them do offer a food menu.

The most elegant and expensive restaurants in Istanbul are in the entertainment centre of Taksim, as well as the shopping districts of Nisantasi, Tesvikiye, Etiler and Levent. The choicest samples of Turkish and world cuisine are served in the restaurants of big hotels. There are various restaurants for tourists and those on a budget in districts such as Beyoglu, and Sultanahmet.

The most common type of restaurants in Istanbul is the traditional self-service lokanta. The menus are usually of vgetable and meat-based dishes, but some of them have grilled food and kebab. Kebab sis are places where every kind of meat is grilled or cooked in various ways, Lahmacun and 'pide' are among the original turkish soulfood found in those places.

There are restaurants in Istanbul which serve only vegetarian fare. However, many normal restaurants also have vegetable dishes and omelettes for vegetarians. Most restaurants have non smoking sections. However, there are few restaurants with high-chairs for infants. Most restaurants are not wheelchair friendly, but fortunately it does not present a problem as the restaurants are usually on the ground floor. Some traditional restaurants and kebab shops do not serve alcohol and there is no strict jacket and tie dress code to worry about either.

Fish restaurants and bars have a large place in the dining culture of istanbul. They usually have a warm and sincere atmosphere. Fish restaurants are found mostly along the Bosphorus and Kumkapi, on Marmara Sea shore. The variety of fish, which is seasonal, is exhibited so that customers can choose what fish they wish to see in their dish. Fish is usually served grilled or fried. Plates of 'meze' (appetizers), salads and/or raki, the Turkish national drink, can be chosen with the fish.

Prices are based on the kilo, which is determined on a day-to-day basis. Meyhanes may seem to offer the same menus as the fish restaurants, but the meze here are more varied and fresher, whereas grilled meat dishes are also available. Waiters display 'meze' on trays, and customers choose the ones they desire. You don't need to book seats at most of these restaurants situated crowded and popular places. If one is full, you will definitely find a place in another.