No trip to Istanbul is complete without indulging in the iconic, palate-pleasing Turkish kebab. A testament to the country’s rich culinary heritage, the kebab is a quintessential dish that beautifully encapsulates the flavors of Turkey. Kebabs in Istanbul are a far cry from the late-night street food staple found in other parts of the world. They are a culinary journey into centuries of Ottoman cooking traditions, crafted with expert skill and quality ingredients. In this guide, we’ll take you on a culinary tour through best Turkish kebab restaurants in Istanbul, promising an authentic and unforgettable taste of this Turkish classic.
The Majesty of Turkish Kebab
In Turkish cuisine, ‘kebab’ refers to a variety of meat dishes, primarily made from skewered and grilled lamb, beef, or chicken. Among these, the ‘Adana kebab’, a spicy skewer of minced lamb named after its birthplace in southern Turkey, and the ‘Urfa kebab’, a less spicy but equally delicious variant, are not to be missed. ‘Shish kebab’, featuring cubes of marinated meat grilled on skewers, and ‘Doner kebab’, a juicy delight of slow-roasted, thinly sliced meat, are also beloved classics.
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The secret of a good kebab lies in its meticulous preparation – the quality of the meat, the blend of spices, and the skill of the usta (master chef) who grills it to perfection. All these aspects merge together to create a kebab dish that is succulent, flavorful, and deeply satisfying.
Discovering the Best Kebab Restaurants in Istanbul
Istanbul is a city teeming with eateries offering their own versions of kebabs. But finding a restaurant that serves the authentic, truly Turkish kebab can be a gastronomic adventure. From the eateries lining the streets of Sultanahmet and Taksim to the upscale restaurants of Nişantaşı and Beşiktaş, the city offers a range of options that cater to every palate and budget.
Restaurants like Beyti in Florya and Hamdi Restaurant near Eminönü are iconic names that have won the hearts of locals and tourists alike with their exceptional kebabs. Then there are hidden gems in less-touristy neighborhoods, where the kebab recipes have been passed down through generations, staying true to the classic flavors.
Every kebab joint in Istanbul has a unique story to tell, through its ambiance, service, and, most importantly, its take on the legendary Turkish kebab. Whether you prefer your kebab spicy and robust or subtle and juicy, there’s a ‘kebabci’ waiting for you in Istanbul, promising a culinary experience that will linger in your memory long after you’ve left the city.
Our Picks of the Best Turkish Kebab Restaurants in Istanbul
Tershane Restaurant – in Karakoy, Beyoglu
€ · Turkish
Situated on the eighth floor of the Hotel Momento, Tershane Restaurant is a premier destination for those wishing to immerse themselves in a contemporary interpretation of Istanbul’s vibrant culinary scene. At the heart of Tershane’s gastronomic philosophy is the timeless allure of Turkish cuisine – mezze, kebabs, and succulent grilled lamb are the stars of the show here. Each dish is crafted with respect for tradition, with bold, generous flavors playing out in a symphony of spicy, creamy, and robust notes that epitomize the essence of Turkish food.
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The open kitchen allows guests to witness the meticulous preparation of these culinary delights, turning each meal into a gastronomic spectacle. At Tershane Restaurant, you’re not just enjoying a meal, you’re embarking on a journey through modern Istanbul’s culinary landscape. Here, the rich flavors of the food are only matched by the intoxicating allure of the cityscape stretching out beneath you. This is more than a dining experience, it’s a Turkish feast for the senses.
Address: Azapkapı, Tersane Caddesi No:24, Beyoğlu, Hotel Momento 8th Floor (8. kat), Istanbul
Deraliye Restaurant – in Sultanahmet
€€ · Turkish
Nestled in the heart of historic Sultanahmet, Deraliye Restaurant stands as a vivid tribute to the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire. The restaurant’s extravagant decor, with its riot of colours, immediately commands your attention and sets the stage for the culinary journey to come.
Relish delectable goose, lamb or duck kebab accompanied by spicy rice, all prepared in a traditional tandoori oven. Deraliye promises an immersive exploration of Ottoman cuisine, serving up rich, indulgent flavours in an environment that evokes a bygone era.
Address: Divanyolu Caddesi, Alemdar Mahallesi, Ticarethane Sokak No:10, Sultanahmet, Istanbul
OCAK Restaurant – in Fatih
€ · Turkish, Traditional Cuisine
OCAK takes Turkish grill dishes to the next level. Their mouth-watering kebabs and unique mezze variations, combined with an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere, create a memorable dining experience.
Here, the chef introduces a creative twist on Turkish tradition with innovative dishes like creamy hummus paired with strawberries, sorrel, and a pomegranate vinaigrette. OCAK’s chef has a knack for achieving a harmonious balance between traditional and contemporary in his adventurous combinations of bold flavours. At OCAK, curiosity is the main ingredient, inspiring a dining experience like no other.
Address: Hobyar, Mimar Vedat Sokak No:5, Fatih, Istanbul
₺₺ · Grills
An iconic restaurant in Istanbul, Beyti has been delighting guests with its superb meat dishes, particularly the signature Beyti Kebap, since 1945. The restaurant is designed in a modern architectural style and located in the residential neighborhood of Florya. The restaurant is owned by Mr. Beyti Guler and probably one of the first chefs who gave his name to a meat dish in Turkey as “Beyti” is a special meat dish.
It serves in its ten dining rooms and three terraces with an interior decoration inspired by the Ottoman Turkish art. Beyti Restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Turkey where you may find excellent meat.
Address: Orman Str. No:8, Florya, Bakirkoy, Istanbul
Mürver Restaurant – in Karakoy
€€€ · Grills, Turkish
Situated in the vibrant neighborhood of Karaköy, Mürver sets the bar high with its incredible views of the Bosphorus, a menu focused on dishes prepared in a wood-fired oven, and an impressive selection of wines. The heart of this culinary adventure is the open kitchen, where fire and smoke imbue the dishes with a delicious, primal depth that captivates the senses. Standout creations like the butter-soft grilled octopus are prime examples of Mürver’s culinary philosophy.
Mürver is not just about delectable dishes. This trendy rooftop restaurant houses a fabulous cocktail bar, where you can indulge in crafted libations as you bask in the radiant vibe of Istanbul’s nightlife. The sublime terrace unfurls the city’s charms before your eyes, making every visit to Mürver more than just a meal – it’s a panoramic feast for all senses. This is Istanbul dining at its finest, a perfect blend of taste, ambiance, and vista that keeps you coming back for more.
Address: Kemankeş Caddesi No:57-59, Karaköy, Istanbul
Sunset Grill & Bar – in Ulus, Besiktas
€€€€ · Classic Cuisine
Perched atop the heights of Ulus Park, Sunset Grill & Bar effortlessly exudes an aura akin to a Hollywood movie. The spacious and sophisticated restaurant affords diners breathtaking views of Istanbul’s cityscape and the captivating Bosphorus. The restaurant is renowned for its extensive menu that includes delicious sushi, contemporary Mediterranean dishes, and grilled specialties.
Coupled with an impressive wine selection and stunning views, it provides an unforgettable dining experience. It has become a sought-after dining destination for the city’s chic crowd, who relish the restaurant’s classic French offerings, Asian-inspired dishes, sushi, and an impressive wine list that is nothing short of a connoisseur’s dream. An evening at Sunset Grill & Bar promises not just a meal, but an unforgettable experience akin to a cinematic epic.
Address: Kuruçeşme Mahallesi, Yol Sokağı No:2, Ulus, Istanbul
Tatbak Restaurant – in Nisantasi, Sisli
€€ · Turkish, Traditional Cuisine
An Istanbul institution since 1960, Tatbak serves up traditional Turkish cuisine with a particular focus on kebabs and mezes. With its rich history and reputation for quality, this eatery offers a truly authentic dining experience. Its retro setting, adorned with beautiful stained-glass windows and marble, effortlessly transports you to a bygone era, amplifying the local vibe.
The real magnet, however, is the fantastic value-for-money it offers. Top sellers include the spicy lahmacun (Turkish pizza), and the succulent kebab prepared with a perfect blend of lamb and minced beef. For an authentic taste of Istanbul, Tatbak is a destination you can’t afford to miss.
Address: Valikonağı Caddesi, Akkavak Sokak No:38/B, Nişantaşı, Şişli, Istanbul