Istanbul is abundant with affordable cafes and restaurants that offer a multitude of delectable options. There are numerous establishments catering to various budgets and preferences.
I will help you find the most delicious and affordable places in Istanbul that offer a comparable atmosphere to luxury establishments. Here is a list of the top 10 budget restaurants in Istanbul.
10 Budget Restaurants in Istanbul
1 – Galata Kitchen (Galata)
I recommend visiting the Galata Kitchen in Istanbul. Located just a 5-minute walk from Galata Tower, this restaurant is popular among both locals and tourists. It has also won the Travelers’ Choice Award 2020 from TripAdvisor. Despite being in a bustling tourist area, the Galata Kitchen offers an inviting and quiet atmosphere.
The choice of dishes there is very good. You can try Turkish, Mediterranean cuisine; nevertheless, the menu may satisfy the taste of vegetarians as well, as there are many vegetable snacks with different sauces, the so-called meze in Turkish. Moreover, the Galata Kitchen is designed so that you can see all the dishes when ordering, and the staff will be happy to help you make the right choice.
The food is delicious and fresh; the restaurant offers fast and convenient service with helpful and friendly staff. I recommend trying their meat dishes and extensive selection of meze, which will please any gourmet and cater to everyone’s preferences. Additionally, you can enjoy a complimentary serving of Turkish tea from Galata Kitchen after your meal.
Address: Tatarbeyi Street, No: 9/B, Beyoğlu, +90 212 252 20 22.
2 – Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi (Sultanahmet)
Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi is a renowned establishment with a rich history of preparing traditional Turkish köfte (fried beef meatballs). The restaurant’s website states that its origins date back approximately 100 years when Mr. Mehmet Seracettin, the founder, arrived in Istanbul. Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi has been operated by four generations, who have diligently passed down the unique köfte recipe over the years. Currently, the fifth generation of descendants from Mr. Mehmet Seracettin continues to work at the restaurant.
Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi is a classic restaurant that preserves its cooking traditions. Be cautious, as there are many similar establishments in Istanbul that may be mistaken for the authentic one. I recommend following the provided address.
This restaurant offers an antique atmosphere and adherence to traditions. The main reason to visit is to try the delicious köfte at a reasonable price. Visitors also praise Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi for its excellent fast service.
Address: Alemdar Mh., Divan Yolu Caddesi, No: 12, Sultanahmet, +90 212 520 05 66; +90 212 513 64 68.
3 – Istanbul Kebab Cafe & Restaurant (Sultanahmet)
The next restaurant that is also considered to be traditional is the Istanbul Kebab Cafe & Restaurant, which has been operating since 1998. Although the restaurant is located in the Sultanahmet district, not far from the most frequently visited places of Istanbul like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, it remains a quiet place to relax and to have a rest from the bustle of the city and crowds of people.
The Istanbul Kebab Cafe & Restaurant offers a variety of Turkish, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern cuisines, as well as seafood and BBQ options. Every customer will discover something they enjoy. I must mention that their portions are quite generous and the service is outstanding. The meals are accompanied by a wide array of seasonings, and there is also a great selection of salads and grilled meats available.
I highly recommend trying the Iskander Kebap at Istanbul Kebab Cafe & Restaurant. They prepare it with great skill and precision: thinly sliced layers of lamb cooked over a fire, served on a flatbread called pide, seasoned with tomato sauce and hot melted butter. What I enjoy most is the enticing aroma of melted butter that fills the restaurant, making you eagerly anticipate your order.
Address: Divanyolu Caddesi, Bickiyurdu sk., Divan center, No: 5, Sultanahmet, +90 537 982 73 95.
4 – Çiya Sofrasi (Kadikoy)
Çiya Sofrası in Istanbul is known for serving about 1000 dishes annually, making it one of the city’s most popular dining destinations. The restaurant’s website states that its purpose is to familiarize both locals and visitors with the diverse Turkish cuisine, featuring dishes from different regions of Turkey.
The most interesting thing is that you cannot find the dishes presented there anywhere else. The owner Mr. Musa Dağdeviren collected and stored these recipes for many years, and some of those dishes are no longer cooked in the regions.
However, I advise you to be careful while choosing some dishes, as the recipes are not always what you are used to eating in Istanbul. But if you are open to new and not afraid of experiments, then Çiya Sofrası is the exact place for you. Here you can taste the historical Anatolian cuisine, that is why the restaurant is worth visiting, at least once. Besides, they have low prices and big portions.
Çiya Sofrası is located in Kadıköy, a vibrant youth area. After dining, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the promenade and experience Istanbul’s nightlife.
Address: Caferaga Mahallesi, Gunesli Bahçe Sk., No: 43, Kadıköy, +90 216 330 31 90.
5 – Hanzade Terrace Restaurant (Sultanahmet)
I recommend visiting Hanzade Terrace Restaurant, located in the heart of the historic Sultanahmet District. Within walking distance, you can find all the popular city sights.
The restaurant is named for its beautiful terrace overlooking the old medieval city and a portion of the Topkapı Palace, the former residence of Ottoman Empire rulers. On the opposite side, the terrace offers picturesque views of the waters of the Bosphorus.
Hanzade Terrace Restaurant offers a diverse range of local Turkish, Middle Eastern cuisines, seafood, and barbecue. Additionally, they provide a substantial variety of vegetable dishes, catering well to vegetarian preferences.
I advise you to try their kebab (fried meat dishes), different variations of it, and one of the most popular Turkish dishes called sarma. Sarma came from the Turkish word sarmak, meaning to wrap, which is explained by its recipe: it is cooked from minced meat with spices wrapped in grape leaves. In Hanzade Terrace Restaurant, sarma is prepared according to a classic Turkish recipe, and I recommend trying it there, as well as other meat and vegetable dishes and snacks.
Address: Emin Sinan Mah., Piyer Loti Cad., No: 35, Sultanahmet, +90 212 518 80 81.
6 – Tatbak (Sisli)
Tatbak is another inexpensive restaurant that I would recommend visiting to try delicious traditional Turkish food. This restaurant is a small exception to the rule I mentioned above. Although it is located in the Nişantaşı area, the prices in Tatbak are very reasonable, and the place is attractive for tourists and visitors.
Local people say that Tatbak serves the most delicious traditional lahmacun in the whole of Istanbul. So, believing the rumors, I decided to visit this restaurant to try it, and, frankly speaking, I was not disappointed at all.
Lahmacun in Tatbak is made of a thin crunchy bread cake, then covered with minced meat, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, herbs, black pepper, and oregano or parsley. It is all served hot, you just need to pour a little lemon juice on it and, preferably, accompany it with Turkish ayran (fermented milk drink). I agree that the lahmacun in Tatbak is exactly one of the best in Istanbul.
Moreover, Tatbak has been operating since 1960 and has a long history. According to the website of the restaurant, it has no other branches, so there is only one restaurant, the address of which I will indicate below. Be careful and do not confuse the real Tatbak with other restaurants with the same name that have already opened all over Istanbul.
Address: Vali Konagi Cad., Ak Kavak Sok., No: 38/A, Tesvikiye, Sisli, +90 212 248 04 25.
7 – Ortaklar Kebap Lahmacun (Sultanahmet)
Ortaklar Kebap Lahmacun in Fatih is quite difficult to spot from the street full of other restaurants with attractive designs. The facade of Ortaklar Kebap Lahmacun is rather inconspicuous, but the dishes served there are worth spending time there. You can find a varied menu there: besides kebap and lahmacun, there are many traditional soups, pide, a variety of meat/fish dishes, and side dishes for every taste. For dessert, you can choose Turkish sweets and tea with fruity aromas, and, of course, traditional Turkish tea.
Prices at the restaurant are inexpensive; the nice staff serves you quickly and is friendly. Ortaklar Kebap Lahmacun has a small, modest terrace where you can enjoy a pleasant view and a cup of Turkish coffee.
At Ortaklar Kebab Lahmacun, I would recommend trying the soup of the day. It might be Ezo Gelin or Mercimek Çorbası (lentil soups) served with lemon and any meat dish of your choice from their kebab dishes.
Address: Peykhane Cad., No: 27, Fatih, Sultanahmet, +90 212 517 61 99.
8 – Yabaci (Beyazit)
The next place, which is also located in the tourist region of Sultanahmet and is often visited by both tourists and locals, is Yabaci. For such a touristic area, this place is a godsend for people who want to eat on a budget; the prices at Yabaci are, indeed, very low.
As I mentioned before, here you will not pay for the view from the terrace or for any intricate design, as this place is quite simple and unassuming. If you were passing by, you would hardly decide to look there without many reviews this place has. Yabaci is a modest cafe, like a family restaurant, where all the dishes are practically prepared in front of your eyes.
However, to try the taste of homemade food, this place appears to be perfect. There you will find a large selection of Turkish food, from soups to meat dishes, including the typical ones, such as pide, lahmacun, and others. The hosts are a very friendly and hospitable couple, who will cheer you up and compliment you with a cup of Turkish tea before you leave.
Address: Peykhane Sk., Servet Han, No: 41, Cemberlitas.
9 – Balkan Lokantası (Sultanahmet)
Balkan Lokantası is one of the first places that comes to mind in Istanbul when someone is looking for home-cooked foods. Tasty traditional Turkish foods and soups, saccharine desserts, a variety of options to choose from, and, overall, a friendly staff, make it an outstanding option for the money-to-value criteria.
Balkan Lokantası is a chain of restaurants that runs across the whole of Istanbul and is famous for its good service at the most affordable prices. The food in this restaurant is displayed in a fine layout with glass windows, and you can just lift a food tray, point toward the desired dishes, and pay at the counter afterward. The place is usually very busy, filled mostly with locals.
Apart from traditional main courses, you can also experience a good variety of Turkish home soups, exclusive olive oil dishes, and rich salads. These olive oil dishes are worth tasting.
Address: Hocapasa Mah., Hoca Pasa Sok., No: 12, Sultanahmet, +90 212 514 34 94.
10 – Tarihi Çeşme Restaurant (Sultanahmet)
In the residential neighborhood of Little Hagia Sophia Mosque, this exquisite restaurant – named in honor of the Ottoman fountain next to its streetside terrace – serves a blend of Mediterranean, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisines at a nominal price, including appetizing kebab, mixed grills, chicken on skewers, Adana kebab, and güveç (meat and vegetable stew).
The restaurant also considers vegetarians and offers a variety of vegan dishes such as tempting mushrooms and vegetable casseroles at a reasonable price range. The restaurant is one of the famous places for pide.
The location is nice, with a classic feel surrounded by traditional baths, Hotel Basileus, and the old Islamic fountain. The owner and staff are attentive, friendly, and helpful in choosing the foods. I recommend staying on the first floor, which is calm, and decorated with dim lights, antique furnishing, and a wooden fireplace. You can stroll around the block to see traditional and contemporary arts and visit the Little Hagia Sophia Mosque.
The place best suits having a pleasurable dinner after a long day or visiting historical sites in its neighborhood. The atmosphere is simple but nice with typical Turkish lamps hanging in the garden; besides, it is tucked away off the street.
Address: Kadirga Liman Cadessi, Sultanahmet, +90 212 516 35 80.