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Restaurants in Istanbul

Surprisingly perhaps, most of the best restaurants in Istanbul are found well away from the tourist hub of Sultanahmet. Apart from the budget places, reservations are recommended wherever possible, particularly in the case of upscale restaurants and especially at weekends.

The Istanbul restaurants below have been grouped into three pricing categories:
Expensive (over TL80)
Moderate (TL50 to TL80)
Cheap (up to TL50)
These Istanbul restaurant prices are for a three-course meal for one, including half a bottle of house wine or cheapest equivalent, tax and service. Tipping is optional.

Expensive

Meze by Lemon Tree

Cuisine: Turkish

Turkish cooking is given a contemporary overhaul with interesting meze (shared plates) dishes such as börek (pastry pie) stuffed with aubergines and cheese, and calamari tava (stir fry) topped with walnut sauce. There are interesting kebab and seafood dishes for mains but the meze are where this place really shines.

Address: Beyoğlu, Asmalımescit Mahallesi Meşrutiyet Caddesi 83/B, Istanbul,
Telephone: +90 212 252 8302
Website: http://www.mezze.com.tr

Lokanta Maya

Cuisine: Turkish

If you thought Turkish food was all about kebabs in their myriad forms, think again. This modern, sophisticated restaurant, run by chef and cookbook author Didem Şenol, offers a fresh and original interpretation of Turkish cuisine with inspiration taken particularly from the coastal Aegean region.

Address: Beyoğlu, Kemankeş Caddesi 35 A, Karaköy, Istanbul,
Telephone: +90 212 252 6884
Website: http://www.lokantamaya.com

Matbah

Cuisine: Turkish

Ottoman cuisine, often incorporating sweet and savoury flavours into stews and meat dishes, is a must-try for foodies. The recipes hail from the sultans' kitchens and have been given a rebirth in recent years. Matbah, in the heart of the old city, is the top place to tuck in.

Address: Sultanahmet, Ottoman Imperial Hotel, Caferiye Sokak 6/1, Istanbul,
Telephone: +90 212 514 6151
Website: http://www.matbahrestaurant.com

Moderate

Klemuri

Cuisine: Turkish

Turkey's Black Sea is a culinary hotspot and Klemuri is a solid introduction to what the region offers. The menu is small, focused specifically on the cooking of the Black Sea's Laz people, and offers delicious vegetarian options (a welcome change from the heavily meat-based menus of most Turkish restaurants).

Address: Beyoğlu, Büyükparmakkapi Tel Sokak 2, Taksim, Istanbul,
Telephone: +90 212 292 3272

Buhara Restaurant

Cuisine: Turkish

Head to this unassuming Sultanahmet restaurant for classic kebab meals. The meat here is always grilled to perfection; succulently tasty yet crisply charred. Choose an Adana kebap (delicately-spiced minced beef kebab) or dig into the calorie-laden İskanderkebap (sliced lamb on bread, topped with a tomato, yogurt and butter sauce).

Address: Sultanahmet, Nuru Osmaniye Caddesi 7A, Alemdar, Istanbul,
Telephone: +90 212 513 7799

Çiya Sofrası

Cuisine: Turkish

Foodie-favourite Çiya Sofrası, is worth the trip across the Bosphorus for. This simple restaurant is renowned as the city's place to come to tuck into Turkey's spicier specialities which hail from Southeastern Anatolia. For hearty, full-bodied Turkish cooking, bursting with flavour, and all well-priced, it can't be beaten.

Address: Kadiköy, Güneşlibahçe Sokak 43, Istanbul,
Telephone: +90 216 330 3190
Website: http://www.ciya.com.tr

Cheap

Saray Muhallebicisi

Cuisine: Turkish

Make a beeline here if you have a sweet tooth. Keeping Istanbul's dentists in business since 1935, Saray Muhallebicisi is a city institution. There are several branches, but this one is the most famous. Come here for künüfe (sweet cheese cake topped with syrupy pastry) and fırınsütlaç (rice pudding).

Address: Beyoğlu, İstiklal Caddesi 173, Istanbul,
Telephone: +90 212 292 3434
Website: http://www.saraymuhallebicisi.com

Hocapaşa Pidecisi

Cuisine: Turkish

In business since 1964, this always bustling pide (Turkish pizza) joint has plenty of fans who regularly swing by to munch on tasty, crispy and piping hot pide. A top choice for cheap, filling meals with friendly, no-fuss, fast service, within easy strolling distance from Sultanahmet.

Address: Sirkeci, Hocapaşa Sokak 19, Istanbul,
Telephone: +90 212 512 0990
Website: http://www.hocapasa.com.tr

Canim Ciğerim

Cuisine: Turkish

This tiny, modest cafe dishes up some of the best liver you'll ever taste. Simple but delicious; just skewered livers served with crispy fresh salad and bread. There's a real local vibe here, particularly during weekday lunches when workers pack into the place for their liver-fix.

Address: Beyoğlu, Minare Sokak 1, Asmalimescit, Istanbul,
Telephone: +90 212 252 6060