There’s nothing more satisfying than finding a hidden gem of local restaurants when travelling. We thought we would give you a helping hand and some direction for your Istanbul breaks


The New York Times described Mikla as ‘forward thinking, but deeply rooted and above all delicious’. The stunning rooftop restaurant gives you an unmatched view of the city. The restaurant is urban and a bit retro, making it a relaxed environment. Its dishes are mostly humble, traditional food, and prepared by the owner and head chef, Mehmet Gürs with the best quality ingredients, has earned the restaurant the a long-serving seat at the top of the list of Istanbul’s best restaurants.

Mezze by Lemon Tree

A selection of Turkish Meze
A selection of Turkish Meze

Mezze by Lemon Tree, with its heavy, plush furniture and its dim lighting, instantly makes you feel at ease. As the name suggests, the restaurant focuses on mezze, but it goes far beyond the usual roasted eggplant and bean pastes. The staff will encourage you to enjoy the experience of being at Mezze by taking your time – this isn’t a place you pop in at for a quick bite before you catch a show.

Every single item on the menu has been painstakingly perfected by the chef, and the friendly and knowledgeable staff will help you choose dishes to suit your taste, and usually encourage you to try a little something new. Mezze by Lemon Tree is one of the restaurants that locals and tourists alike just keep coming back to.

Sultan Ahmet Fish House

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Seafood dinner

While there isn’t anything terribly fancy about the interior of the restaurant, we love it for the friendly, lively, typically Turkish atmosphere – and the food of course. You can grab a table on the sidewalk and enjoy the views and people passing by while you sample delectable seafood mezze and interesting seafood mains like Sea bass with saffron, slow cooked in a traditional terracotta casserole. If you’re looking for a relaxing evening with simple but delicious seafood, then the Sultan Ahmet Fish House is right up your alley.

Zuma Restaurant

Zuma is a luxury seaside dining experience like no other. Although it can get a bit pricey, you won’t see anyone without a smile on their faces while they’re eating. Guests from all over the world praise its service, food, wine selection and atmosphere – and all seem to agree that it’s the home of the best sushi in Turkey. Even if you just stop in for a cocktail while sightseeing, you’ll feel like you belong here, and probably stay for a meal.

Giritli Restaurant

Giritli is a family-owned restaurant, well-known for its homely atmosphere and fantastic mezze. If you’re tired of the touristy restaurants, this one is definitely worth visiting. Although it’s generally a very popular restaurant for locals, you’ll find that many of the staff speak English and will happily help you translate the menu and find the perfect selection of mezze to suit your mood. The best time to visit is in the summer evenings, when the beautiful garden section of the restaurant is lit up with dainty lights and lanterns, and the red and white checked tablecloths dons the quaint, private tables.

Have you visited any of these restaurants in istanbul? what do you think? whats your favourite restaurant in the city?