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What to try in Istanbul: TOP 10 best dishes

Many people associate Istanbul with roasted chestnuts, an abundance of Turkish delight and fragrant coffee. But, in fact, many have not tried real Turkish dishes and drinks! But this is, as they say, “real Turkish flavor”, originating from the cuisine of the Ottoman Empire.

We invite you to taste the most unusual Turkish dishes, sweets and drinks, and we will try them where they cook according to classic Turkish recipes!

We will tell you about dishes without frills, and our tips will help you find Turkish restaurants where they cook them.

Hot dishes

This dish, which came from the city of Sivas, is a soup with bulgur cutlets and minced beef, lots of spices. Quite thick and very nutritious soup.

You can try this dish for lunch if you are in a restaurant with Turkish cuisine, for example, if you are walking in Beyoglu, take a look at the Otantik Anadolu Yemekleri cafe located on one of the busiest streets – Istiklal.

Beyran soup

This nutritious and rich soup is over 500 years old. The homeland of this dish is the Turkish city of Gaziantep. It is prepared from a leg of lamb, with the addition of rice, butter, spices (black and red pepper), garlic. Lovers of lamb and delicious soups with a rich taste will especially like this dish.

The dish can sometimes be seen on the menu of restaurants with doner, and for the classic recipe, tested by many visitors, we sail on the ferry to Kadikoy – it is here, a little further than the statue of the bull, that the kebab Dyuryumju Emmi is located.

Köfte with kibbeh

The name of the dish is derived from the Turkish words köfte – cutlet, içli – internal. This dish is kofte with spices, herbs and walnuts, hidden in a fried bulgur shell. Minced meat for cutlets is usually made from beef or lamb. Usually served as a hot snack, but given its nutritional value, after such a snack you definitely won’t be hungry.

You can try a truly delicious ichli kofte in Turkish restaurants – where there is a kebab or doner. An example of a restaurant is Haskral Hatay Sofrası. If you are going to take a walk in the Aksa ray area and see the sights of Laleli – the Laleli Mosque, the Valenta Aqueduct or the Shehzade Mosque, then look at the Turkish restaurant Haskral Hatay Sofrasy. It is a two-minute walk from the Aksa ray metro station, and an 8-minute walk from the T1 tram stop Aksa ray.

Elbasan tava

This is a fairly old dish that has its roots in Ottoman cuisine. It is believed that the recipe for its preparation came from the Balkans, as dairy products (yogurt) are present among the ingredients. But, of course, during the preparation of Elbasan tava, the dish has changed and has been prepared in the Turkish manner for a long time.

This dish is prepared from lamb meat, with the addition of eggs, butter and vegetable oil, flour and shallots, yogurt and spices (black and red pepper).

Where to try elbasan tava? For example, walking along Istiklal Street, you can have a bite to eat at Hacı Abdullah Lokantası. Finding the Turkish restaurant of Haji Abdullah Lokantasa is quite simple – going down from Taksim Square, turn right between the Demirören AVM shopping center and the Hüseyin Ağa Cami mosque.


Muhlama (aka myhlama, kuymak) is corn porridge with cheese and butter, although outwardly it looks more like a dense, stretchy cheese. And while “porridge” may not sound appetizing to everyone, it’s worth trying this dish and making sure that it tastes better than it looks.

Muhlama is usually served for breakfast, in small frying pans with handles (muhlama tava – frying pan for muhlama).

The cost of one serving of mukhlam is from 25-30 lira.

You can try classic muhlama at Çay Tarlası Cafe, which is located in Kadikoy. You can take tram line T3 near Kadikoy pier and get to the Moda Ilkokulu stop, from there it is only a minute walk to a small cafe. By the way, next door to it is the famous coffee house Walter’s Coffee Roastery.


Dessert katmer is a thin puff pastry with a delicate pistachio filling, served hot, usually with a scoop of classic ice cream. When they say that katmer is a flatbread or pancakes, this is not entirely true – katmer prepared according to the classic recipe will be distinguished by the thinnest puff pastry and a large amount of pistachio filling.

The cost of katmer dessert is from 35 lira.

Katmer is served for dessert, most often in fish restaurants (not all). You can try the most delicious katmer in the Beyoglu district, or rather in Karakoy – in the Köşkeroğlu baklava confectionery. It is not difficult to find it – it is only about 3 minutes walk to the cafe from the T1 tram stop Karakoy (Karaköy). Next to the confectionery is an equally interesting place called Namlı Gürme.

Bülbül’s nest

This sweetness can be found next to baklava, already known to many. This is a traditional Turkish delicacy that looks like a bird’s nest.

Sweetness is made from thin puff pastry, with the addition of walnuts, honey, butter, syrup and starch, sometimes sprinkled with chopped pistachios. The thinnest dough for the dish is rolled out on a rolling pin, so the delicacy itself turns out to be very tender and airy.

You can try a dessert prepared according to a classic recipe at the old confectionery Sakarya Tatlıcısı. Finding it is very simple – turn off Istiklal Street near the Galatasaray Lyceum to the right (the Lyceum is on your left, ahead is a large intersection). Walk about a minute to a small branch of Deniz Bank and turn right into an alley.

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