Istanbul is an old capital city that has hosted different cultures and civilizations for thousands of years. As Napoleon once said, “If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.”. I can also add to this quote without hesitation that the center of İstanbul would be Sultanahmet for its magnificent place on the historical peninsula between two seas united by the Bosporus.
Sultanahmet is a magical place fascinating local and foreign tourists and history enthusiasts who come to visit Istanbul. Historical sights surround Sultanahmet as the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome, and the Basilica Cistern.
You should explore and experience Sultanahmet for its historical and cultural, architectural, and religious structure and its restaurants famous for delicious Turkish food. After a long day of exploring the magical atmosphere and shopping and sightseeing here, you deserve to eat authentic, delicious Turkish food.
Here, there is a list of the best restaurants that I choose for you and your stomach, as well as your eyes:
1.“Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi” with Famous Grilled Meatballs
Historical Grilled Meatball Restaurant in Sultanahmet might be the most popular restaurant in the area for generations. It may surprise you that it is so close to the tourist area and offers such delicious meatballs.
They become famous for their delicious and unique grilled meatballs. In the first place, it is was opened as a tiny shop almost a hundred years ago. Since then, lots of things have changed, but there is one thing I am sure that the legendary taste of meatballs has remained unchanged.
Now, the shop owner’s grandchildren took over the job and are offering the same flavor to people worldwide.
Hunger is the best and only spice here because meatball here is made off without any spice but only with bread and meat. The taste is expanded from Istanbul to the other big cities in the world.
The service there is so fast. The portion of grilled meatballs comes with pickles and spicy sauce. Besides grilled meatballs, I would also recommend ordering, Piyaz, a salad with beans and onions.
If you are a vegetarian, don’t worry, you can try traditional lentil type soup. If you are not one, well-cooked kebabs with fresh salads would be different and delicious options for you.
You should always have a dessert to complete your dining experience. Here, they offer the classic semolina dessert (” İrmik helvası” in Turkish), which may sweeten your day. The price is on a comparably reasonable budget.
Keep in mind this, have your cash ready with you because they do not accept card payments.
Adress: Alemdar Mh., Divan Yolu Caddesi, No: 12, Istanbul
2. Fish Home Ahhirkapı Restaurant with Fresh Seafood on the Edge of the Peninsula
Fish Home Restaurant serves mouth-watering fresh seafood daily. The place is very friendly with a small terrace if you prefer to eat outside.
I am sure your experience of food here will be fascinating from the beginning to the end. You will start with a blend of Turkish style appetizers, and from there, you will move on to a fish and seafood platter.
Next, they serve fresh fish from the day, perfectly cooked and grilled with rice and potatoes. If you be a friendly kid, the owners may surprise you by offering free Turkish dessert and tea in the end.
There is not much to say about this place. Because the fish and appetizers that being served here will also leave you speechless, the people around you will only hear the cutlery.
Address: Sultan Ahmet, Cankurtaran, Ahırkapı Cd No:17, 34122, Istanbul
3. “Queb Lounge” with a Sea View
Who wants to look at the sea’s harmony with history from a bird’s eye view while tasting the most delicious food served in Istanbul, even in the world? If you can’t stop showing your finger in the air by saying, “me, me, me,..”.
I will suggest for you is Queb Lounge. It is located on the top of a hotel. So, Queb Lounge offers you an opportunity to have the best experiences of your life with a panoramic view of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the Bosphorus.
Here, at Queb Lounge, you can enjoy the taste of traditional Turkish food or various dishes from world cuisine, depending on your choice. It also offers well-prepared traditional Turkish breakfast.
You can eat the main meals and kebabs. But I strongly recommend typical Turkish breakfast with cheese, olives, eggs, tomatoes, Turkish style tea, and all the ingredients that I can’t count. Turkish coffees are on the house, as well.
You should give five stars to this place for only its magnificent sea view in the Historic Peninsula. The taste and variety of food are pluses.
To have breakfast with the first warm lights of the day or to have a nice dinner with your loved ones, you should make a reservation before going there.
Address: Cankurtaran Mah. No:29 Akbıyık Cad., The Byzantium Hotel Teras Kat, Sultanahmet
4. “Divella Bistro Restaurant” with Tastes of Ottoman Cuisine.
Divella Bistro Restaurant is one of the best restaurants with an unforgettable atmosphere in the town. In its location close to Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia Museum, chefs of Divella Bistro offer unusual dishes from Turks and Ottoman cuisine made of fresh and high-quality products. It is starting from the main course to the pastry and drinks.
When you ask the waiter about the chef’s special recommendation, you will possibly get three delicious suggestions: the lamb ribs with sauce, the chestnut dish with meat, and traditional Anatolian kebabs. You will likely not decide which one to choose.
So, if you are eating as more than one person, my suggestion would be that: You can order two different things and eat together, and you won’t miss out on trying other delicious recipes.
Not surprisingly, for seafood lovers, Divella restaurant has amazing, fresh, and flavored seafood recipes. But their taste competes and maybe falls behind the ones offered in the next restaurant that I will mention.
Address: Cankurtaran Mahallesi, Akbıyık Caddesi, Adliye Sokak, No:11, Sultanahmet, Istanbul
5. “Balkan Restaurant in Sultanahmet” with Local food
Balkan Restaurant is one of the best in the neighborhood and any other different districts of Istanbul. When you go inside, look around you. You can realize that you may be the only tourist here. Mostly locals eat here. You are lucky, It serves its guests plenty of taste of traditional Turkish food like the mother’s hand has touched.
The location is a little bit far away from the tourist center. Don’t concern yourself. You can get there on foot. While going there, you can enjoy the beautiful streets of Sultanahmet or shop for a souvenir.
Here, you can choose from various Turkish homemade and street food. The place might look different from an ordinary restaurant. Here is an à la carte restaurant.
There are lots of food options exhibited for everybody. You go inside and pick out what looks tasty and what you want to eat, put them on your tray and then sit and enjoy your meal. Maybe later, a desert.
The typical menu is varying from meat dishes, dishes made of meat and veggies, and only veggie dishes. It would be best if you also gave a change to the traditional Turkish soups.
The soup is essential in Turkish cuisine, and we make thousands of types of soup. And this is the place where you can try those. The price is a little expensive than free. No wonder you want to eat more than one meal a day here. Each time you can try different delicious dishes.
During lunch and dinner time, it is hard to find a table to sit at and eat. You should go during off-peak hours and try your luck to taste delicious food.
Address: Hoca Paşa, Hoca Paşa Sk. No:12 D:12, 34112, Fatih, Istanbul
6. Cafe Amedros in Sultanahmet with Gluten-Free Options.
Café Amedros is worth the visit. It is situated in the heart of Sultanahmet. I find this place very pleasing and relaxing, feeling the history and mystery just around the corner.
The menu of Café Amedros has a good variety of kebabs, vegetarian friendly, and gluten-free dishes from Turkish, Ottoman and world cuisine.
In general, Amedros brings the recipes prepared centuries ago at the palace for the Ottoman sultans into the light. It offers them their precious customers in their breezy atmosphere. The desserts of Amedros also have a good taste for their dishes. I would say try it!
Let’s admit that one of the places where you can feel at home is Amedros but with one difference:
You cannot find such delicious food at home.
Address: Divanyolu Cad. Hoca Rüstem Sok. No: 3, Sultanahmet, 34110, Istanbul.
7. “Buhara Ocakbaşı Restaurant” with a Different Experience
Turkey has its version of doing barbeque itself. This version is done in typical restaurants with a specific name of ocakbası, meaning “stand by the grill.” Buhara Ocakbaşı is one of them and the best one located in the heart of Sultanahmet.
Besides serving kebabs, outstanding Turkish appetizers, and drinks for almost a quarter-century, it also offers different food experiences. The customers can watch the food being cooked over a huge charcoal burner in the center.
The restaurant is within walking distance to the historic old town. Buhara has a 3-story building with a cozy, humble, and pleasing ambiance. It also has a terrace to enjoy the breathtaking view of the sea and the old town.
Mixed grilled kebab platter with freshly prepared pita bread….. Oh my God, what a delight. You can also order a Turkish-style pizza, although I must confess that you may not finish it because portions here are huge.
If you pass by this restaurant, do not hesitate to go inside even if you are not hunger. You won’t regret any second you spent there.
Address: Beyazıt, Ç. Nuruosmaniye Cd. No:7, 34120, Fatih, Istanbul
8. Old Ottoman Cafe & Restaurant with a Fun Scene at the Table.
Of course, it is inevitable to have the word ottoman in the name of a restaurant that makes and serves traditional Ottoman dishes near the Ottoman palace. This restaurant deserves its name.
The menu is extensive for both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. The clay pot filled with beef or chicken is a must-try dish here. After cooking for hours, it is brought out and cracked in front of you and poured out over the plate full of rice with the spicy aroma. The breaking of the pot creates an amusing and fun scene at the dining table.
Old Ottoman Restaurant is a great place to get a well-cooked clay pot dish as the servers make the experience special. You will be very welcomed friendly to enjoy the food here
However, my only negative comment about this place would be that it is very touristic.
Address: Cagaloglu Hamam Sokak, No 17/J, 34122, Istanbul,
9. Giritli Restaurant with a Small Garden
This place answers the question of where you can eat without falling into tourist traps. Giritli Restaurant serves healthy and enjoyable appetizers and fresh fish in a restored old Sultanahmet house.
If you are looking for a place to have fun and celebrate with friends, this is the place for you. Giritli restaurant offers a fixed menu, including a glass of local wine, rakı, or beer.
The place’s hidden garden will warm you up and make you enjoy your meal much better and spaciously. If you look around carefully, you can see our little cat friends come to share your meal with you.
The starters are delicious as they are freshly made. My best one is the grilled octopus’ leg with olive oil. The other plates of seafood are perfect to taste. Do not forget to try the orzo salad and the olives stuffed with walnuts and feta.
If you are lucky, you may come across a concert or an event, too.
Address: Keresteci Hakkı Sokak, Cankurtaran, Ahırkapı, İstanbul
I am sure that all those restaurants will indulge you with the feast of taste. So, no matter which restaurant you go to, I hope you will have one of the best days in your life with a memorable excellent taste in your mouth.