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A foodie’s guide to Turkey

6th November 2013 Print

The cuisine of Turkey often gets overlooked by visitors to this unique and historic country, but for true foodies, the cities and towns of Turkey are truly a culinary paradise. The freshness of their ingredients and skill of their chefs make Turkish food a magical, taste sensation. Here are some of the top treats to enjoy in Turkey for those who truly love their food.

What to eat


You eat bread. Everyone does. But here in the West we are satisfied with a loaf of pre-packaged, ready sliced bread, designed to last several days. In Turkey, the bread is always and only fresh, and is baked twice daily, so those coming home from work can enjoy a fresh loaf with their tea. Try ‘pide’, a flat pita bread, perfect for wrapping a snack on the go, or ‘simit’, a bagel-like bread, covered with sesame seeds, for something out of the ordinary.


We call it hors d’oeuvres and the Spanish say tapas, but in Turkey, it’s not just the name that defines the food. Mezze is a must-have and is served everywhere. Expect gorgeously fresh hummus, mussels on a stick, savoury pancakes and a variety of delicious cheeses.


In Turkey, the kebab is not your usual after-party late-night snack, but a delightfully filling meal, made with the freshest ingredients they can lay their hands on. Choose from fish, meat or vegetable fillings and top it off with rice, potatoes and roasted red peppers.


The national drink in Turkey is most definitely tea, or cay as it is known there. Forget your English Breakfast though, because here you can find an incredible assortment of fruit teas, herbal infusions and an array of local specialities. Try the kusburnu cay, which is a pink tea, made from rosehips, often served in delicate tulip-shaped glasses.


The seafood in Turkey is really something to write home about. Be careful though, because many restaurants do not debone your fish. However, once you’ve got over that little inconvenience, be prepared to be blown away by the flavours of these fresh, straight-from-the-ocean dishes. Whether you enjoy a five-star dish in a top-of-the-range restaurant, or some barbecue mackerel straight from the boat, seafood is always a winner in Turkey.

Where to eat it

From Istanbul to Belek Turkey offers an array of stunning places to enjoy the local cuisine. From high end to street food, you can find all manner of delicious treats in every corner of the country. Here are a few of the best:

High end: The Adamar Hotel in Istanbul is one of the best places to enjoy a variety of Turkish dishes with a 360 degree view of the city. In Belek the ‘01 Adana’ offers a typical selection of Turkish dishes, accompanied by mini pizzas, salad and followed by as much fruit as you can fit in. In the Aegean region, the Ocakbasi Iskele is the top restaurant in the area, offering flavoured kebabs and the best mezze in town.

Mid-range: If you’re in the Med region, Lake Egirdir fish restaurant offers up freshly caught and perfectly cooked fish for less than the price of a sandwich in the UK. In Istanbul, you can pick up cakes and pastries while enjoying an enviable view at the Galata Konak Café. Back in Belek, the Balik Ev is an incredible fish restaurant where you can select your own fish from the array of fresh specimens available that day.

Budget: Don’t knock the Turkish street food - sometimes some of the most delicious morsels are presented in the most modest surroundings. In Istanbul head to the stalls around Galata Bridge, where you can find all manner of delicious kebabs, including the midye – mussels stuffed with rice and lemon juice, which is truly a taste sensation. Head for any harbour around lunchtime and you’ll often be able to pick up barbecued fish straight from the boat.

Turkey offers all manner of flavours, exotic ingredients and a variety of beautiful surroundings in which to enjoy them. As long as you’re willing to avoid the westernised restaurants that cater to the tourist trade, it really is a foodie’s paradise.