There are many things that make Istanbul one of the most astonishing and unforgettable travel destinations in the world. The stunning natural setting of the city over two continents, the millennial history and fascinating culture, the amazing people and many other features make it extremely appealing to travelers. In addition to all this, there are delicious dishes served in restaurants in Istanbul, which makes Istanbul a gastronomic heaven and a dream city for gourmets.
The excellent food of this city, mixed with the legendary hospitality of the Turkish people can be experienced inside the best restaurants in Istanbul, enchanting places that offer the perfect combination between beautiful locations, charming atmosphere and delicious food. From world famous steakhouses to fine dining establishments, the list below includes places that constantly receive high praises and perfect reviews from their guests and culinary critics.
Best Restaurants in Istanbul 2021
There are 12 places in our list of the best restaurants in Istanbul. Most of these restaurants are with Bosphorus view. You can also find restaurant recommendations from Taksim, Sultanahmet and Kadikoy, which are the most popular touristic places in Istanbul.
1. Nusr-Et Steakhouse
The Nusr-Et Steakhouse has become one of the most famous and appreciated restaurants in Istanbul, gaining an incredible international popularity in the last decade. This was partly thanks to the undeniable charm of Nusret who became known as Salt Bae on the Internet, with his trademark cooking style. Yet, his fame was mostly based on the amazing quality and taste of his steaks and burgers.
While millions of people have followed his culinary adventures online, those that truly tasted the delicacies of Nusr-Et Steakhouse in Istanbul can attest to their divine flavors. With a menu based on beef and lamb steaks and burgers, the dishes are perfectly prepared in a very particular cooking style from high quality meat. Starting from Istanbul, Nusr-Et has created a world chain of superb restaurants, yet one of the most popular remains the one in the Grand Bazaar.
2. Leb-i Derya Restaurant
One of the most respected and popular restaurants in Istanbul, Leb-i Derya Restaurant is at the front of the city’s culinary scene for the last 15 years. Literally meaning seaside, the restaurant is surrounded by the sea, offering superb panoramas of Istanbul, especially breathtaking at sunset and night. Conveniently located in the Beyoglu quarter, Leb-i Derya has constantly maintained a high level of service and perfect quality of its menu.
Guests will find several astonishing spaces to dine at this restaurant, combining delicious Anatolian and Rumelian dishes with some of the best wine available, all in a pleasant ambiance created by live music and great views of the city. Among other delicacies, the restaurant offers amazing fillet steak with 40 seasonings, fresh fish specialties and mouth-watering desserts.
3. Sunset Grill & Bar
Among the most prestigious and awarded restaurants in Istanbul, Sunset Grill & Bar is constantly reinventing itself over the years, yet is never concedes on quality and respect for its guests. This unique restaurant concept is located in charming Ulus Park, overlooking the stunning Bosphorus and giving a special look into the city.
While originally it served Californian style steaks, Sunset has become a mix of the best cuisines in the world, a veritable culinary trip around the world. Together with traditional Turkish dishes, Sunset Grill & Bar also features an excellent Mediterranean menu from Chef Fabrice Canelle, as well as an innovative Sushi Bar and the best fine wines. All of these are perfectly blended into a complex and exclusive experience that makes this restaurant one of the best in Istanbul.
4. Murver Restaurant
Among the newest additions to the list of best restaurants in Istanbul, Murver Restaurant certainly deserves its spot, offering a unique experience that is based on authentic fire and wood cooking techniques. Inside their brick oven or over their open grill, savory delicacies based on fish or meats are created with passion for their guests.
While fire is at the heart of the menu, Murver Restaurant also features an enchanting location in the heart of the Karakoy quarter of Istanbul, with magnificent views of the Bosphorus and the Old City Peninsula.
Traditional and fresh ingredients are used to create the culinary marvels of their kitchen, the chefs using the magical power of fire to bestow the unique taste of each dish in the menu. The mouth-watering ash-cooked octopus is just one of the star dishes that guests can try at Murver Restaurant.
5. Mikla Restaurant
The contemporary Mikla Restaurant, superbly located on the top floor of the Marmara Pera Hotel, was opened back in 2005 and since became a staple mark of the gastronomic scene in Istanbul. Co-founder and ingenious chef Mehmet Gurs is accredited as the creator of the New Anatolian Kitchen, where traditional dishes are rethought and crafted with new and ancient techniques.
Mikla is probably the best place to sample this amazing new culinary trend, offering a veritable experience. Their menu includes unique dishes that can be tasted as fixed 2 or 3 course menus, paired with the best wines of Turkey and the world. Conveniently located and featuring amazing panoramas of the city, this is the best place to enjoy the innovative New Anatolian Kitchen.
6. 360 Istanbul
Included in the top 10 restaurants of Istanbul for 15 years, this one of a kind restaurant is located at the top floor of the historical Misir Apartment. As the name suggests, it offers 360 degrees views of the marvelous Istanbul, especially inciting after dark. Offering a diverse and complex menu for lunch and dinner, 360 Istanbul transforms into a nightclub after 10pm during the weekends, thus offering a complete culinary and entertainment experience.
The menu of the 360 Istanbul Restaurant is truly astonishing, featuring a wealth of high quality options from the slow roasted cherry duck to the New York Steak. All of these are beautifully paired with exquisite Turkish and international wine choices.
7. Ciya Sofrasi
An iconic culinary establishment of Istanbul, Ciya Sofrasi has been around for many years, always offering the same delicious traditional meals it is recognized for. While it might not have astonishing views or fancy ambiance, this is still considered one of the best places in Istanbul to sample the authentic Turkish food.
Marketing itself as a garden of lost cultures and forgotten tastes, the restaurant is located in the Asian side of the city, close to the Kadikoy Fish Market. The chefs of Ciya create a spectacle of tastes and savors in their kitchen, with recipes spanning a vast grographical area and tiem frame. While the delicious kebabs and other dishes are always present, part of the menu changes each day with seasonal specialties.
8. Karakoy Lokantasi
Best known as one of the best lunch destinations in the Karakoy area and even the whole of Istanbul, this esteemed restaurant has stood the test of time, continuously offering a superb classic menu and the utmost attention to detail. Conveniently located near the Galata Bridge, Karakoy Lokantasi is one of the iconic Istanbul restaurants, with faithful patrons that visit each day at lunch to taste the heavenly dishes.
These include recipes from the Ottoman Imperial Kitchen like the slow-cooked beef on a bed of mashed eggplant. For dinner, the restaurant features a wide range of delicious mezes and other dishes like the amazing grilled octopus. The entire gourmand experience can be topped up with a sweet Turkish dessert.
9. Haci Abdullah
A symbol of the Ottoman-Turkish cuisine for over a century, this is one of the oldest and most prestigious restaurants in the whole of Istanbul. Still respecting the same tradition passed down from master to apprentice for many years, the Haci Abdullah can now be found in the heart of the Beyoglu quarter, close to Istiklal Avenue.
It offers a delightful traditional menu that symbolizes more than a century of tried and tested Ottoman Palace cuisine recipes, all served inside one of the many superb halls. While no alcoholic drinks are served inside the restaurant, the authentic traditional dishes are well worth the visit.
10. Nicole Restaurant
Hosted on the top floor terrace of a former Franciscan Monastery, the stylish and exquisite Nicole Restaurant is one of the most prestigious in Istanbul. From the terrace located in quiet area of the Beyoglu neighborhood, fascinating views of the city, the sea and even Princes Islands can be admired.
This entire superb atmosphere is just the backdrop of a uniquely crafted cuisine under the hand of Chef Aylin Yazicioglu, trained in Paris. The innovative and inspired dinner menu is divided into two incredible options that include amazing dishes. The menus change after a few weeks and are paired with the best Turkish or international wines available.
11. Matbah Restaurant
Receiving various acclaims along the years and considered one of the best restaurants in Istanbul and even Turkey, Matbah Restaurant is located in the heart of the old city, surrounded by the cultural and historical treasures of the past. The culinary tradition of the Ottoman Empire can be perfectly sampled inside this excellent restaurant, its recipes coming historical accounts saved from the kitchens of the Sultan’s palace.
In a distinguished and elegant ambiance, Matbah Restaurant features twenty seven astonishing dishes that are cooked in a perfect Ottoman style, respecting the historical recipes of the Imperial chefs. Each guest can indulge and feel like a sultan inside this one of a kind restaurant.
12. Deraliye Restaurant
Located in the middle of Istanbul’s Old City, within walking distance from Hagia Sophia or the Topkapi Palace, Deraliye Restaurant offers its guests the unique chance to taste the authentic Ottoman meals that were once only worthy of a sultan.
The Ottoman Palace cuisine is part of the Turkish cultural heritage and there few other places that continue its tradition in such a high quality manner. This restaurant features mouthwatering dishes like the goose kebab, stuffed melon, chicken with apricot, but also many appetizers, fish specialties, desserts and more. Deraliye Restaurant also has live music on Fridays and Saturdays to complete the experience.
In this article, I introduced you to the best restaurants in Istanbul in 2020. New ones will be added to the list of Istanbul restaurants in 2021. As I update the article over time, I will add other restaurants that stand out from the competition.
Best Restaurants in Istanbul 2021 by Serhat Engul