- Your Safety
- Car hire
- Dining out
- Eating and Drinking
- Money matters
- Police stations
- Ringing Home
- Roads (Driving)
- Room (apartment)Damage
- After dark
- Women Travellers
- Laundry and Dry cleaning
- Carpets and Kilims
- Turkey Through The Year
- Where to Eat
- Traveller's Needs
Where to Eat
Restaurants in Turkey range from the informal lokanta and kebab house, which are found on almost every street corner, to the gourmet restaurants of large luxury class hotels. There are international restaurants in most major tourists centres.In Istanbul, restaurants purvey a wide variety of almost every style of cuisine, from French to Korean. Restaurants on the Mediterranean and Aegean coasts specialize in seafood dishes, and Cappadocia is famous for its grapes and wines. Interesting local dishes can be found along the Black Sea coast and in the interior of Anatolia. Each region has its own culinary specialties: you can sample thick, clotted cream in Kahramanmaraş and whole milk yoghurt in distant Erzurum.As you move further away from Istanbul, vegetarian restaurants become somewhat scarce. Excellent light meals and snacks are often sold by street vendors, and most cafes and bars have a menu with light refreshments.
WHERE TO LOOK
Generally, the smartest and most expensive restaurants are to be found in the five-star international hotel chains all over Turkey. They always serve both Western and Turkish food.
The main roads and central business districts of most towns have a selection of fast-food eateries, cafes and inexpensive restaurants where the locals go to eat. Coastal resorts cater for all ages and tastes and offer dishes from all over world. In the interior, most restaurants serve good, cheap regional food and cater for locals as much as tourists. Most towns have a number of cafes, patisseries and pudding shops. The latter specialize in muhallebici(traditional sweet milk pudding).
TYPES OF RESTAURANT
The most common type of restaurant in Turkey is the traditional lokanta.These establishments offer a variety of dishes, often listed on a board near the entrance. They serve hazır yemek (prepared food), usually consisting of hot meat and vegetable dishes that are displayed in a bain marie, or steam table. Other dishes on the menu may be sulu yemek(broth or stew)and et (meat-meaning grilled meat and kebabs)
Equally popular is the kebap or ocakbaşı(kebab house).In addition to grilled meats, most kebeb houses serve the popular lahmacun, a thin dough base topped with fried onions, minced meat and tomato sauce. This dish is the Turkish version of pizza. Some also serve pide, a flatbread base served with various toppings such as eggs, cheese and salami.
In many area, you can also find specialist pide restaurants. If you have had too much to drink you may need a bowl of işkembe(tripe soup), the traditional Turkish cure for a hangover, before going to bed.İşkembe restaurant stay open until the early hours of the morning.
Fish restaurants are often concentrated along the same street, creating a lively atmosphere and making the street seem like one large restaurant. The meal typically consists of a selection of mezes(appetizers), followed by the catch of the day, which might include palamut(bonito), sardalya (fresh sardines) and levrek (sea bass).Also popular are Black Sea hamsi(a kind of anchovy), istavrit (bluefin)and mezgit(whiting).The Turks are proud of their local fish, and prefer to eat it in season. However, as fish is becoming scarcer and more expensive, farmed fish has become more widely accepted, particularly alabalık(trout) and a type of bream known as çupra.Fish is served grilled or fried, and is usually accompanied by salad and rakı an anise- flavored spirit.
A meyhane is more like a tavern, serving alcohol and mezes.These are cheap and convivial places, and often have live music. A meyhane is a good place to meet the locals and to get a taste of local foods and customs. By tradition; this establishments are a male preserve. They may not be suitable for unaccompanied women.
For government employees, lunch hour is from noon to 1pm, and many restaurants cater for them.But you will not find many set lunch hours throughout Turkey. Turks eat when they are hungry, without looking at the clock, and will simply drop in at the most convenient place they can find. Restaurants and kebab houses open at about 11am and stay open for business until the last customer leaves in the evening.
During Ramadan(ramazan),Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. As a result, many restaurant are closed during the day, or they may serve only a special iftar (fast-breakfast) menu in the evening. More and more foreign restaurants are now appearing on the scene, and some of these close on Sundays, as they would in their native country. However, there are no firm guidelines on opening hours for such eating establishments, and most of them stay open longer than their counterparts in other countries. Seasonal restaurants are a different matter and many of Turkeys popular tourist resort simply grind to a halt after 29 October to reopen around March or April, as soon as the weather improves. Some places open just for New Years Eve, which is always festive.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Food and eating are among lifes finest pleasures and nowhere more so than in Turkey. A meal is always an occasion and, for special meals, it is best to book. In large centers vegetarians can enjoy variety, and designer vegetarian restaurants seem to be enjoying much interest. They do, however, become scarcer the further east you travel.
While most restaurants try to cater for non-smokers, there are no hard and fast rules on smoking in eating establishments, and so it is usually left up to the individual restaurant owner. It is, however, becoming increasingly common for restaurants to offer a smoke free dining area.
When choosing a place to eat, remember that many of the cheaper restaurants and kebab houses do not serve alcohol. Also, many places will have a separate section for men only and another for families or women. These are designed by a sign with the words aile salonu(family room), where single men generally do not enter. Turks are proud of their hospitality and service. Good service is always found in the upmarket restaurants that can afford well trained, professional waiters and kitchen staff. You may find that the same standards do not apply in cheaper places, They often use raw recruits many of whom rely on tips for their income. Be patient and bear in mind that it is natural for Turks to call a waiter by saying bakar mısınız? (service please). The cheerfulness and enthusiasm of restaurant staff generally compensates for any minor shortcomings.
SERVICE AND PAYING
The major credit cards are widely accepted, except in the cheaper restaurants, kebab houses, local bufes (snack kiosks) and some lokantas. Restaurants usually display the credit card sign or symbol on the entrance if they accept this form payment. Value-added tax (KDV in Turkish) is always included in the bill, but the policy on service varies. Some places add 10 per cent or more to round up the bill while others leave it to the customers discretion. Feel free to ask if you are unsure.
What to Eat in Turkey
For almost five centuries, the peoples under Ottoman rule- in territories ranging from the Balkans to North Afrika-contributed to the sophisticated cuisine that was created in the kitchens of Istanbuls Topkapı Palace. The influence of many cultures speeded into the fine foods of the Ottomans and spread throughout what is now Turkey, while some of todays staple dishes originated in Central Asia and were introduced by west ward- migrating, nomadic Turks. Anatolian offers a varied culinary scene and, together with French and Chinese, ranks as one of the worlds top three culinary traditions.
Breakfast in Turkey consists of feta-type cheese, tomatoes, olives and cucumber, as well as honey, jam, butter and bread, all served with tea.
Yoğurt çorbası is a yoghurt soup made with pulses or rice. Soups are eaten at any time of the day.
Hamsi pilavı is a Black Sea dish made with a mixture and anchovies and rice. It is one of many Turkish rice dishes.
Levrek pilakisi is a stew made with a combination of sea bass, onions and potatoes, flavored with garlic.
Fish is widely available in Istanbul, due to the citys proximity to the sea. During the winter months, oil-rich varieties of fish, such as bluefish and mackerel, are particularly plentiful in restaurants. The method of cooking can vary, but in most cases the fish is served either grilled or stewed.
The dishes of Anatolian are as varied as the regions in which they originated. Traditional and simple, they are often colorful and spicy.
Fırında mantı is a dish of noodle-dough parcels filled with meat. Other mantı dishes use the same dough.
Karides güveç, prawns with peppers and tomatoes topped with cheese, is just one of many kinds of güveç (stew).
Lahmacun and gözleme and bread based snacks. The first is a thin pizza style snack. The second is folded over or rolled up.
Bamya bastısı is a popular okra and tomato stew which can be made with or without chunks of lamb.
The cooks of the Topkapı Palace kitchens created elaborate dishes during the days of the Ottoman Empire. Vegetables were stuffed or cooked in olive oil. Meat was grilled or roasted, seasoned and sometimes served with either a cream or tomato sauce.
Hunker beğendili köfte is meatballs with sultans delight: a puree of smoked aborigine with cheese.
Imam bayıldı, literally the imam fainted, is a dish of aborigines stuffed with tomatoes and onions.
Kebabs may be meat, fish or vegetables. The most popular varieties are döner (sliced roast meat), şiş (cubes of meat grilled on a skewer), Adana (minced meat grilled on a skewer) and Iskender, or Bursa, kebab (döner meat on bread with a rich tomato sauce and yoghurt).
Karnıyarık is a dish of auberdines, split open and stuffed with minced lamb, pine nuts and currants.
Fresh fruit in season is the ideal way to round off a Turkish meal. Watermelons, figs, pomegranates and apricots are among the most popular choices.
A Turkish meal often begins with mezes (starters), of which there are hundreds of different kinds- with new ones being created all the time. They range from simple combinations, such as plain white cheese with melon, to elaborately stuffed vegetables. Mezes are served in all Turkish restaurants and are often accompanied by rakı. Meyhanes often specialized in mezes from Anatolia and it is common to be offered a generous selection from a tray. Most mezes are served cold, although you can order hot ones too. Very few contain fish or meat, making them ideal for vegetarians.
Böreks and Dolmas
Anything that can be stuffed is made into a dolma. The most common are made with vine leaves, peppers and mussels. Börek (or böreği), a filled savory pastry which is deep fried, can be stuffed with mince, spinach or cheese with berbs.
Turkish bread includes ekmek(white loaves) and pide(flat bread), which is often served with kebabs, and also eaten during religious festivals. Simit is crisp ring-shaped, savory bread covered with sesame seeds.
Circassian chicken(çerkez tavuğu) is a dish consisting of strips of chicken in a creamy walnut and bread sauce.
Several mezes come in the form of purees and dips, often using yoghurt as a base. They are served with fresh, warm bread. Some of the most popular include patlıcan salatası(smoked aubergine puree), haydari(mint, garlic and yoghurt) and tarama (fish roe).
Lakerda, finely sliced smoked tuna served with lemon, is a popular fish meze from the Black Sea.
Fasülye piyazı is a salad of haricot beans with olive oil and lemon juice. It is sometimes topped with boiled egg.
Zeytinyağlı enginar, artichoke bearts, is one of many choice vegetable dishes cooked in olive oil.
What to Drink in Turkey
The most common drink in Turkey is tea(çay), which is normally served black in small, tulip- shaped glasses .It will be offered to you wherever you go: in shops and bazaars, and even in banks and offices. Breakfast is usually accompanied by tea, whereas small cups of strong Turkish coffee(kahve) are drunk midmorning and also at the end of meals. Cold drinks include a variety of fresh fruit juices, such as orange and cherry, and refreshing syrup-based sherbets. Although Turkey does produce its own wine and beer, the most popular alcoholic drinks is rakı, which is usually served to accompany mezes.
Bottled mineral water(su) is sold in corner shops and served in restaurants everywhere. If youre feeling adventurous, you might like to try a glass of ayran, salty liquid yoghurt. Boza is made from bulgur wheat and is another local drink to sample. There is always a variety of refreshing, cold fruit and vegetable juices available. They include cherry juice, turnip juice and şıra, a juice made from fermented grapes.
COFFEE AND TEA
Turkish coffee is very dark strong and served in tiny cups. It is ordered according to the amount of sugar required: az(little), orta(medium), çok şekerli(a lot). Ask for it especially, or the waiter may assume you want Nescafe. The ubiquitous daily drink is tea(çay), which is served with sugar, but without milk and comes in a small tulip-shaped glass. Most popular is the apple(elma), flavor, but there are also linden(ıhlamur), rosehip(kuşburnu) and a delicious mint(nane)variety.
Turkeys national alcoholic drinks is rakı, a clear, anise-flavored spirit that turns cloudy when water is added and is drunk with fish and mezes. The Turkish wine industry has yet to realize its full potential. Kavaklıdere and Doluca, the best-known brands, are overpriced for table wines. Villa Doluca is preferable. The İzmir based producer Sevilen offers several interesting wines, such as Majestic, and an outstanding Merlot. Expect to pay high prices for imported wines and champagnes, which are found only in top-notch restaurants and bars. The locally brewed Efes Pilsen beer is excellent and also widely available on draught. Note that alcohol may not be served in some cheaper restaurants and kebab houses.