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April 10, 2024updated Apr 17, 2024

The Best Restaurants in Istanbul

The vibrant city is brimming with outstanding eateries.

By Elite Traveler

Istanbul has long been celebrated for its vibrant culinary scene. But it wasn’t until 2022 that the Michelin Guide finally touched town in the bustling city, with inspectors bestowing five outstanding eateries with a coveted star.

While stars certainly aren’t everything, the guide does act as an excellent starting point for those with a penchant for fine dining. The latest iteration – which came out in November 2023 – awarded seven of the best restaurants in Istanbul with a star, including Turk Fatih Tutak which managed to scoop two stars.  

An additional 18 establishments were granted a well-respected Bib Gourmand award, which recognizes quality cooking at lower price points, while one restaurant was bestowed with a Green Michelin Star thanks to its impressive sustainable credentials. The second edition of the guide also expanded to include Izmir and Bodrum – a real testament to Turkey’s food scene.

With so much choice it can be tricky deciding where to begin. Read on for our carefully curated list of the best restaurants in Istanbul that promise incredible food – and some of the best views in the city.

[See also: Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus: Experience Istanbul in Luxury]

Turk Fatih Tutak

fatih tutak chef
Fatih Tutak in his two-starred restaurant / ©Duygu Turkmen

As the city’s sole restaurant to be awarded two Michelin stars, Turk Fatih Tutak is a safe bet when it comes to listing the best restaurants in Istanbul. The eponymous chef-owner works closely with local suppliers to ensure that his restaurant is not only as sustainable as possible, but also properly reflects the country’s landscape and the ingredients it produces. The dishes are rooted in traditional Turkish techniques and flavors, but the modern international influence is evident too. Each day, a single tasting menu is produced and served to all guests, with a carefully selected wine pairing on offer too.

turkft.com

[See also: The 13 Best Restaurants in Dubai]

Gallada

gallada at The Peninsula Istanbul
Dishes are based on the historic tastes, flavors and traditions of the Silk Road’s Eurasian trade routes / ©The Peninsula Istanbul

Presumably still happily riding the waves of his first restaurant’s two-Michelin-star rating just months prior, in July 2023, chef Tutak, of the above restaurant, opened Gallada: a Turkish-Asian dining experience right at the top of the then-brand-new Peninsula Istanbul hotel. Like Turk, Gallada’s menu will be centered primarily around Turkish ingredients with a keen focus on hyper seasonality. Dishes are based on the historic tastes, flavors and traditions of the Silk Road’s Eurasian trade routes, and served in a cool, design-led setting. Above the restaurant, a stylish bar will serve signature cocktails and small plates.

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peninsula.com

Mikla

Located on the roof of the fashionable Marmara Pera hotel, Mikla boasts sublime views over Istanbul including the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace. With retro chrome furniture and a bar made from wooden railroad ties, Mikla is urban, sleek and stylish, and recently became one of the few Istanbul restaurants to hold a Michelin star. The unique menu reflects the Turkish-Scandinavian background of chef-owner Mehmet Gürs, who pioneered the contemporary restaurant scene in Istanbul. Gürs skillfully merges Turkish and Scandinavian cooking techniques, producing delicacies such as raw grouper with olives and lemon, and a Turkish coffee vanilla slice with raspberry sorbet. The roof terrace bar of Mamara Pera is perfect for pre-dinner drinks. Take in soft jasmine scents and sip on a generously measured martini as you watch the sun set on this historic city.

miklarestaurant.com

Ulus 29

Opened in 1993, Ulus 29 is the perfect place to view the Bosphorus and the bridges of Istanbul from the restaurant’s terraces in the summer. Ulus 29 centers on gastronomic concepts with traditional cooking methods to offer regional cuisine with seasonal freshness. The restaurant makes its own dry-aged meats as well as ice cream and pasta for an authentic experience when searching for where to eat in Istanbul. Opt for gastronomy-focused dishes, classic Turkish fare or sushi. A wine list of roughly 4,500 bottles includes labels  Enjoy cocktails at the Teras Bar, or choose a lively evening at the Ulus Club 29 to dance along to international DJs on the weekends.

ulus29.com

Râna by Topaz

At Râna the best of Mediterranean and Ottoman cuisine come together. Overlooking the Bosphorus, the serene atmosphere of Râna recalls the stone it is named after in its geometric design that is complemented by modern decor. The restaurant offers two tasting menus: modern and traditional. The first comprises innovative dishes like goose liver terrine with cranberry marmalade and walnut, while the latter includes classics like Turkish ravioli with beef and strained yogurt. Râna’s wine list has acquired national recognition with an award from local magazine Gusto and the staff is happy to provide pairings on request.

[See also: Rising Stars: Next Gen Chefs in the Michelin Guide]

Banyan

With Istanbul wedged between Eastern and Western influences, Banyan’s motto of “food for the soul” describes the Asian fusion fare it serves. Healthy cuisine with Asian roots is savored on the top floor of a historical building, offering striking views of the city below. Dishes like Sichuan pepper steak, duck satay and dim sum are just a few of the options on order to be enjoyed with tea, fresh juice or a cocktail. Whether dining indoors or outdoors, the lights of surrounding Istanbul are sure to dazzle from this local favorite.

banyanrestaurant.com

St. Regis Brasserie

The intimate restaurant comprises both indoor and outdoor areas with elegant accents like oak, brass and onyx / ©St. Regis Istanbul

For expert French cuisine in Istanbul, look no further than St. Regis Brasserie. Housed in the luxury St. Regis Istanbul hotel, the intimate restaurant comprises both indoor and outdoor dining areas with elegant accents like oak, brass and onyx. The fare is seasonal, including contemporary, French-inspired dishes with a Turkish touch. An expansive menu includes a variety of salads, handcrafted pasta and sandwiches among appetizers and main courses. Try the St. Regis Brasserie meatballs or pan-fried black bream with a signature Bloody Mary from the cocktail menu. Be sure to leave room for dessert – the restaurant offers raspberry cake, rice pudding, tiramisu and mascarpone cheesecake.

stregisbrasserie.com

Maiden’s Tower

The signature of Istanbul, Maiden’s Tower stands proudly at the intersection of the Bosphorus where the two continents of Asia and Europe meet. The tower’s history stretches back 2,500 years, with a wealth of legends surrounding its place in this extraordinary city. Now the tower serves as a café and restaurant, attracting guests from near and far for a romantic meal, business engagement, or even a wedding. With delicious breakfasts and international lunch and dinner menus, Maiden’s Tower can be enjoyed at any time of day. Live music and a friendly mood will accompany your meal, and with the Bosphorus on all sides, the views are magical. Indoors in the winter or outdoors in the summer, for a truly bespoke experience, ask for exclusive booking options and enjoy Maiden’s Tower in unique style.

kizkulesi.com.tr

Feriye Palace

Once an Ottoman police station, Feriye’s building is a rare example of 19th-century classical Ottoman architecture. An advocate for Turkish gastronomy, Feriye holds regular seminars and special food presentations. The restaurant draws on Ottoman cooking techniques from the 12th to 19th century and includes such delicacies as spicy cured beef and manti (filled dough pockets). Feriye can host a wide range of events: the à la carte restaurant caters for cocktail parties and sit-down dinners, and in summer the huge terrace can accommodate up to 2,000 guests.

feriye.com

[See also: Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet Reveals Refurbishment]

16 Roof

Situated atop the Swissôtel, 16 Roof restaurant boasts stunning views of the Bosphorus. The interior is modern and minimalist with soft blue tones that reflect the hues of the river itself. The chef produces contemporary world cuisine with unique flavors as well as desserts; from refreshing lemongrass and ginger sorbet to mouthwatering caramelized banana and cinnamon tart with caramel ice cream. Each course of the tasting menu is complemented by an appropriate Turkish wine. There is also a private section with a capacity for 12 guests should you desire a more intimate gathering.

swissotel.com

Sunset Grill & Bar

Located on a hilltop in Ulus Park with spectacular views of the Bosphorus Bridge and Asian shoreline, Sunset Grill & Bar is the ultimate romantic restaurant in Istanbul. There is a wide-ranging menu of Turkish and international cuisine with a strong Japanese influence. A sushi bar opened here in 2000, in 2006 Japanese master chef Hiroki Takemura joined Sunset Grill & Bar, introducing a selection of new Japanese cuisine. In 2015, director of culinary innovation Fabrice Canelle joined the team, bringing the finest examples of Mediterranean cuisine to the menu. The cellar includes some of the finest rare wines in the world, from Petrus to La Tache, Château Latour to Sassiccaia, and Opus One to Château d’Yquem. Sunset Grill & Bar has been named as one of the best restaurants in Europe by Zagat, and Time Out Istanbul declared the restaurant of the best in Istanbul.

sunsetgrillbar.com

[See also: The Peninsula Opens Waterfront Hotel in Istanbul]

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