The best local restaurants in Istanbul serve home-style meals, delicious comfort foods and, of course, doner kebabs. If you want to sample the local cuisine without breaking the bank, you should consider visiting a local hotspot when exploring the Turkish capital’s diverse culinary scene.

    Whether you're looking for a savoury treat, an Anatolian dessert, or a meat and seafood feast, there's always a locally owned eatery that serves up a meal you'll love. Find out where to grab a table by browsing our list of Istanbul's top local restaurants below.



    A kebab shop that’s famous for its lahmacun

    Tatbak is a local hot spot and kebab shop that specialises in Gaziantep cuisine. Serving Istanbul since 1960, it’s famous for its lahmacun, a circular, crispy dough base topped with minced meat, veggies and an array of herbs and spices. Other tasty menu favourites include yoğurtlu kebab (served with tomato and yoghurt sauces) and lamb skewers.

    Tatbak can be busy at any time of the day, but we recommend heading there for lunch when plenty of nearby shops are open in the Nişantaşı district. No matter when you visit, you can expect fast service and reasonable prices.

    Location: Teşvikiye, Akkavak Sk. 38/B, 34365 Şişli/İstanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 11 am to 9 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +90 (0)212 246 13 06


    Adana Ocakbasi

    A hidden gem turned local hot spot

    Adana Ocakbasi is a small grill joint tucked away on a quiet side street, but still manages to attract diners from all over Istanbul. It’s best known for its signature kebab with tomatoes, peppers, lavash bread and onions. Most dishes are cooked on a charcoal fire right in front of you.

    Before digging into your kebab, consider starting with liver cubes on skewers with a local raki, which is Türkiye’s national drink. Adana Ocakbasi is most popular during the evening, so visit during lunch for a quiet yet satisfying meal.

    Location: Bozkurt, No:2, Baysungur Sk, 34375 Şişli/İstanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Monday–Saturday from noon to 11.30 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +90 (0)212 247 01 43


    Karadeniz Döner Asım Usta

    A must-visit doner kebab restaurant

    Karadeniz Döner Asım Usta is one of Istanbul’s top-rated kebab shops and takeaways. A great place to try the city’s renowned street food, its doner kebab attracts crowds of hungry visitors just about any time of the day. For an extra treat, wash your meal down with an ayran, a savoury yoghurt-based beverage.

    Because Karadeniz Döner Asım Usta often has long lines, and the meat can run out early on busy days, we recommend heading to this restaurant before 2 pm. You can browse products at local stores on the surrounding streets.

    Location: Sinanpaşa, Mumcu Bakkal Sokağı No:6, 34353 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10.30 am to 6 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +90 (0)212 261 76 93


    Mivan Restaurant & Café

    Top-rated authentic and affordable Anatolian cuisine

    Mivan Restaurant & Café is a trendy diner serving Turkish favourites. It’s also a local go-to for breakfast, lunch and dinner, open 7 days a week. Menu options include kebabs, steaks, casseroles, and seafood dishes. For a true taste of the capital, try the iskender kebab, which is doner meat on pieces of pide (a traditional Turkish pita-like bread).

    Mivan Restaurant & Café is less than 1 km away from landmarks such as the Blue Mosque and the Obelisk of Theodosius, making it a popular drop-in restaurant during a day of sightseeing.

    Location: Emin Sinan, Piyer Loti Cd. No:34, 34130 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 12.30 am

    Phone: +90 (0)212 517 99 29


    Lades Menemen

    Traditional Turkish delights served all day long

    Lades Menemen was first established in 1969 and has since expanded to multiple locations in Istanbul. It's highly regarded for its down-to-earth atmosphere and speedy service, and its menu includes Turkish and Anatolian delights like kebabs and casseroles, as well as flavourful soups and salads.

    While Lades Menemen can be busy at any time, there’s usually no wait for a table. It’s where locals enjoy Turkish cuisine during a day of shopping along İstiklal Avenue, which is one of the most famous streets in the capital.

    Location: Katip Mustafa Çelebi, Mahallesi, Sadri Alışık Sk. 11/12 11/12 11 D:12, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 11 pm

    Phone: +90 (0)212 249 52 08


    photo by leesean (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Galata Simitçisi

    Fresh Turkish-style bagels with local tea

    Galata Simitçisi is a bagel shop that sells freshly baked simit, which is a crispy, sesame-coated dough ring that’s a popular street-food snack. The locals also love the shop’s çatal, a mouth-watering semi-savoury cookie, and traditional Turkish tea. If you want to try Turkish delicacies during your stay in Istanbul, we highly recommend paying a visit to Galata Simitçisi.

    If you’re planning a day of sightseeing, you might want to head to Galata Simitçisi in the morning to stock up on fresh snacks. The store opens daily from 5.30 am. Nearby landmarks include Galata Bridge and the restored 5th-century Galata Tower.

    Location: Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa, Mumhane Cd. 47/A, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Daily from 5.30 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +90 (0)212 244 77 75


    Nato Restaurant

    A hot spot for local workers since 1952

    Nato Restaurant is where the locals go to enjoy a home-cooked dish away from home. Here, you can see displays of vegetable stews, pilafs, soups and meat dishes on hot plates. Your chosen food is delivered to your table almost immediately, and it's not unusual to share tables with strangers.

    The doner meat with pilaf is one of Nato Restaurant’s most popular dishes. We also recommend the kuzu haşlama, which is braised lamb with lemon sauce. Try to get there in time for lunch as the restaurant closes rather early.

    Location: Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Necatibey Caddesi Karanlık Fırın Karaköy, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Monday–Friday from 11 am to 4 pm (closed on weekends)

    Phone: +90 (0)212 249 64 24


    Hocapaşa Pidecisi

    Baked Turkish flatbread with delicious toppings

    Hocapaşa Pidecisi is famous for its sfiha, which is a flatbread (pide) topped with ground meat, cheese, and herbs. The master chef cooks meals from scratch right in front of you, from patting the dough to cooking it in a wood-burning oven. The kavurmalı pide is one of the most popular options on the menu.

    Hocapaşa Pidecisi is an ideal place to grab a quick, hearty meal. Expect generous portions for a more-than-reasonable price. You might want to check out landmarks such as the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace Museum while you’re in the area.

    Location: Hoca Paşa, Ankara Caddesi & Hoca Paşa Sokak No:11, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +90 (0)212 512 09 90



    One of Istanbul’s oldest pastry shops

    Baylan is an excellent restaurant to satisfy your sweet tooth with Turkish delicacies. At this pastry shop, you can indulge in ice cream cakes, petit fours, and homemade chocolate. For something extra special, try kup griye, a dessert made with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce, and almond brittle.

    Baylan is near the coast of the Kadıköy district of Istanbul, right by the Kadıköy metro and bus stations. While you’re here, check out the murals on buildings that line the curved streets. You can also browse local goods at independent boutiques.

    Location: Caferağa, Muvakkıthane Cd. No:19, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +90 (0)216 346 63 50


    Basta! Street Food Bar

    A top-rated fast-food diner for Turkish comfort food

    Basta! Street Food Bar cooks up the best of Turkish fast-food cuisine, with menu options such as homemade lamb sausage, beef ribs, smoked chicken, and lamb brisket. However, the restaurant is famous for its dürüm, which is a Turkish wrap filled with doner kebab that goes down well at any time of the day.

    If you’re searching for a vegetarian option, we recommend trying the hummus and sütlaç, or rice pudding with milk. Be prepared to jostle with crowds during weekends. If you want a quiet bite, you might want to grab a table for lunch.

    Location: Caferağa, Sakız Sk. No:1, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Türkiye

    Open: Monday–Friday from noon to 10 pm, Sunday from noon to 9 pm

    Phone: +90 (0)216 414 08 65

    Joshua Saunders | Contributing Writer

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