We’re all partial to a really good kebab and mezze when trying the eclectic food fest Turkey has to offer, but there’s quite a bit more to explore on the “tasting Turkey” front.
If you’ve booked a trip to its vibrant capital or one of the beach resorts this year, here are some food stops worth sampling if you’re passing through.
From mezze…to midye? You’ll find Midye on the Galata Bridge and this is a dish that really will give you the true taste of Istanbul. It’s a plate of mussels stuffed with rice and lemon juice, a delicious mix of the saltiness of the sea absorbed into the rice, contrasting with the sourness of the lemon – you have to try this if you love mussels and have never heard of this dish before!
Take our word for it, you’ll need a good breakfast before facing the extensive markets Istanbul has to offer and The House Café is my personal favourite. This café is set on the Bosphorus River with stunning views and serves an eats-meets-west selection for a decent price. For a healthy option, go for the scrambled egg on rye toast with coffee or wash it down with a virgin apple mojito.
For something a little different at teatime, head to The Pudding Shop. It used be a meeting place for travellers and locals alike in the 60s after first opening in 1957 – full of hippies and travellers about to head off to India. It’s a near legendary meeting point – its bulletin board has served as a communication centre for travellers to place ads asking for a hitchhike. Go for the vibe and the nostalgia – not necessarily for gourmet food.
If you’re looking for something a little more intimate for the evening, look no further that the Adamar Hotel. Unsurprisingly, Istanbul’s skyline is pretty magical at night so the hotel’s rooftop restaurant is a real must. It offers a 360 degree view of the city with exceptional food.
Heading towards the Aegean Region?
If you’re heading away from the city you’re still sure to find some great little eateries.
One place to check out would be Ocakbasi Iskele in Fethiye, down at the harbour just in front of the ancient theatre, which many say is by far the town’s best restaurant! It’s always full of locals (which can only be a good sign) and stays open all year round unlike a lot of other places. Even better, they cook up a mean flavoured kebab right in front of you!
Similarly small and cheap, if you’re near Akyaka Bay try a Balik ekmek from the boats and cafes around there. What’s that? It’s a large fried fish sandwich, salad, pickled chillies and lemon juice, best washed down with a glass of ayran, a refreshing salted yoghurt drink. Only about £4 for two, this is perfect fare for watching the world go by as you sit by the river or by the bay catching the early evening sun…