8 Local Restaurants You Need to Visit in Istanbul

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8 Local Restaurants You Need to Visit in Istanbul

The city where east meets west, Istanbul has long been a melting pot of cultures, which is shown best of all in its incredible food scene. Adapting throughout the centuries, dishes have come and gone, with only the absolute best surviving in this culinary paradise. That being said, the ever-increasing wave of tourism that's descended upon Istanbul has brought with it lazy restaurant owners who forsake local palates in favor of the steady stream of unaware visitors. To save you the trouble of filtering out the city's many tourist traps, here are the clear favorites for a meal in Istanbul.

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8 Local Restaurants You Need to Visit in Istanbul

Çiya Sofrası

Showcased on Netflix's food documentary 'Chef's Table' Çiya has managed to keep its cool even after becoming hugely popular thanks to the show. Luckily the restaurant is large enough to accommodate the masses and its location on the non-touristy Asian side of the city helps to keep crowds down. The restaurant has been a project for culinary researcher Musa Dağdeviren, scouring the country high and low for age-old home cooked recipes to serve. If you're looking for one place to sample all of Turkey, this is the place.

Mavi Haliç Pide Salonu

Photo by William Neuheisel/Wikipedia

While the traditional district of Faith can be dangerous for culinary enthusiasts, mainly dominated by restaurants that have gotten lazy aiming their food at tourists, there are a few gems here. One of these is Mavi Haliç Pide Salonu. Often described as 'Turkish pizza' these flat breads are packed with various toppings but usually ground meat and here they're thrown in a charcoal oven for extra flavor.

Sabırtaşı Restoran

Sabırtaşı has been known for one thing, icli kofte, a kind of bulgur wheat ball stuffed with meat that they've been churning out hundreds per day at their store in Beyoglu. However they serve a range of dishes just as delicious as their kofte. The various offerings of manti, mini Turkish meat-stuffed dumplings are highly recommended. To get there you'll need to climb seven flights of stairs, a slight hurdle that's well worth it for the delectable food and chilled out ambiance.

Asmalımescit Dürümcüsü

Not a name you want to be pronouncing when you're a little tipsy and thankfully its easy-to-reach location in the tourist area of Beyoğlu means you probably won't need to. Despite being close to the tourist spots, it's one of the few places that has never corrupted its menu, Unless you're a devout vegetarian, you'll want to devour as much of Istanbul's meaty kebabs as you possibly can, and this is one of the best places to do it along with their spread of delicious Turkish meze.

Van Kahvaltı Evi

An unmissable culinary experience for anyone visiting the city, the Turkish are big on breakfast and offer one of the most lavish morning spreads in the world. At Van Kahvaltı Evi, the owners come from the eastern province of Van and this restaurant focuses on breakfast foods and specialties from the region. In a country where breakfast is already important, there's an even higher significance to this meal in Van, and locals there will often have a breakfast spread for lunch or even dinner. Despite its central location near Taksim Square, the prices are decent and you get a huge amount of food for what you pay.

Karaköy Özsüt

A staple on the table during a typical Turkish breakfast spread, kaymak is a rich and delicious local clotted cream that's usually served drenched in honey. Traditionally made from fresh water buffalo milk, the city's growing population has meant closure for most buffalo farms in the vicinity. Nowadays Özsüt is the only store that makes its kaymak from its own fresh buffalo milk. While its much more of a pain then just using pasteurized cow's milk, the extra effort pays off and you won't find a better kaymak in the city.

Karaköy Lokantası

While it might not seem that way from the beautiful and modern decor, a lokantasi is a canteen style restaurant to serve tradesmen and workers in the city, a side of Istanbul's food culture that most tourists don't get to see. Karaköy Lokantası might be a little higher priced than most of the similar local joints in the city, but it makes up for it with quality ingredients. It's perfect for anyone who wants a taste of Istanbul's local working class food often much more authentic than most restaurants in tourist heavy areas.

Karaköy Güllüoğlu

Turkish sweets are out-of-this-world delicious and warrant paying a visit to this old institution for sweet pastries and desserts. Known for having some of the best baklava in all of Turkey, Karaköy Güllüoğlu is the place to go to get your sugar fix in the city. Be sure to try other desserts such as kunefe too, they're all delicious.


If you're looking for more restaurants to dine at while in this capital of gastronomy, check out their reviews on zomato.com. It's what the local Turkish people use to write reviews and is much more accurate, with them doing a decent job of filtering out fake reviews. Unfortunately due to the city's huge influx of tourism, foreign websites like TripAdvisor and Google and scattered with numerous fake reviews, written by or paid for by restaurant owners in order to tap into the constant market of tourists. If you've found a restaurant you'd like to visit, it's always best to check if it's on zomato, those that aren't are often best avoided.