Izmir is Istanbul’s chill cousin known for its café culture and general laid-back attitude towards life. This scenic Aegean city is known for its ideal climate, where the winters are mild and the summers are dry and hot. Most restaurants and cafes in the city have outdoor patios, perfect for sitting outside, eating platters of fresh seafood, and drinking ice cold Efes. Here are the Izmir restaurants and cafes that should be on your list.
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Where To Find The Best Izmir Restaurants
The main areas known for restaurants in Izmir are Alsancak (the city center), Konak, Bostanli, Karsiyaka, and Bornova to name a few neighborhoods. Be wary of overpriced restaurants on the kordon (waterfront) in Alsancak.
If you want to treat yourself, this long-time city-favorite seafood restaurant in the heart of Asancak is the place to go for a fancy night out on the town. Expect elegant seaside dining, top-notch service, and all guests on their best behavior. Highlights from the menu include an array of delicious mezes and seasonal fishes from the nearby Aegean and Black Sea. Pro tip: go on the weekday to avoid waiting for a table.
A 24-hour fast-casual restaurant that serves up delicious pide at all hours. Depending on the time, you will see a wide cast of characters grabbing a late night bite: from a bride and groom after their wedding to families snacking on pide. There are other dishes like kebabs available, but the pide is where it is at including vegetarian options like spinach and cheese.
For dessert, try the kunefe, a traditional Turkish treat with dough, cheese, and sugar-based syrup. There are many branches around the city, including a spacious one in Alsancak.
A bustling restaurant in the heart of Bostanli that is one of my favorite in Izmir. It has been serving complementary cheesy bread and an assortment of kebabs (try the kofte) since 1965 in a central and scenic outdoor setting. The efficient and extra attentive service is the cherry on the top. A waiter charged Mustafa’s card twice and when we went back the next day they had a bundle of cash waiting for him down to the exact cent.
It is open 24 hours, so it makes a great stop after the bars for a steaming bowl of lentil soup before heading home.
Friends & Burgers
For those craving beef beyond the typical kebab and are near the Agora shopping mall in Balcova, this is a great fast food option that is a step up from the typical mall burger joint. The interior is inviting and the ingredients are high quality, homemade, and delicious. They have inventive flavors like the Mexican burger with hot sauce and a healthier FitFun burger piled high with veggies. There are also salad options for a healthy side. My all-time favorite is the garlic mushroom burger with a side of potato wedges and plenty of ketchup.
For top-quality meat, this meyhane is an excellent choice on one of Bostanli’s busiest streets. Like a traditional mayhane, you get to choose your meze from an extensive selection. Our waiter even brought us back to the meze display case to give us a visual tour of all the choices. The main dishes come in options like kofte (get the ones stuffed with cheese), grilled chicken, and perfectly grilled cuts of steak.
Make sure to take your time, sip on raki and watch the world go by as you sit on the outside patio. An impressive fruit plate and Turkish tea complete your meal.
This cartoon-centric restaurant is a great casual spot to grab lunch or dinner. Decorated after the political cartoon publication Leman Kultur, there is no shortage of cheeky touches from the novel-sized menu to its life-sized cartoon cutouts. The food is not not too memorable-with an offering of global cuisine (Mexican, Italian, American), as well as traditional Turkish dishes with a modern twist, but it’s worth just going for the atmosphere.
Beer, wine and cocktails are also available. There are several branches around the city, including locations in Asancak, and Bostanli.
Sir Winston’s Tea House
In the mega mall that is MaviBahce, this is a solid cafe to stop at (then make sure to stop at OzSut for dessert). There is a wide selection of sandwiches, salads, pizza, and traditional Turkish entrees like kofte. If you come for breakfast, you can get a massive Turkish breakfast spread for two.
There’s a large outdoor patio and a smaller air-conditioned interior that is ideal for escaping the summer heat. For drinks there’s anything from ubiquitous Turkish tea to specialty cocktails. There are also branches in Alsancak, Bornova, and Konak to name a few.
True you can find Starbucks everywhere in the world, but in other countries they tend to be more upscale, and this huge one in Bostanli is no exception. There’s a spacious patio out front with plenty of seating and it is always popular especially at night. The drinks are standard Starbucks, but they serve coffee in mini cups if you order a small, (similar to the size of a Turkish coffee cup) if you just want a tiny bit of caffeine. It’s a great place to pick up a drink and a snack, and rest your feet if you find yourself in the area.
There are a few branches of this coffee shop, but my favorite is in Konak, which is central, and spacious with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. This branch has a great selection of drinks, small bites, and a wide selection of desserts. Grab a strong Turkish coffee and find a seat among the international business clientele that are staying in one of the many nearby luxury hotels.
There are also chocolate covered nuts and other pre-packaged treats that are worth picking up on your way out.
For an assortment of delicious lokum (Turkish delights), this is the spot to go for sweet treats. A personal favorite is the rose flavored. Do as the Turks do and stock up on nuts and dried fruit in bulk that serve as healthy snacks that go along with tea. There are also spices, roasted coffee, and boxed treats in the form of nuts and lokum, that make a great gift to bring back to your friends and family at home.
There are many branches around the city, including one in Konak.
This beloved Turkish cafe is where all your dessert dreams come true. Dessert is taken so seriously that there are several menus filled with an overwhelming amount of decadent cakes, hot/cold drinks, ice cream, and other treats. There are also traditional Turkish desserts as well as strong cups of Turkish coffee and tea. They also have great Turkish breakfast offerings, sandwiches, soups, and salads for those who want something savory.
There are a few branches around the city, including one in Alsancak.
I didn’t know about this baklava shop until my most recent trip, and realized I was seriously missing out. The shop specializes in baklava and it is made with real sugar (instead of the fake sweeteners) so it has an addictive caramel flavor. It’s a simple shop, with several different mouth-watering flavors displayed in the window and behind the glass inside. The prices are higher than other bakeries, but worth every bite.
It’s located a bit further away from the city center in Cigli, but worth a stop if you’re in the area.
A great alternative to the more touristy Izmir restaurants in Asancak, this is a traditional meyhane down a quiet side street where you can get Turkish meze and high-quality meat (think big juicy steaks) and fresh local fish. This restaurant feels more like eating at someone’s home where the raki is flowing freely. There’s no menu and hardly any English is spoken, but you just need to trust everything they suggest will be delicious.
Where To Eat In Turkey
- Lokanta-a casual restaurant which has homemade food laid out buffet-style. The prices are cheap and there’s usually no menu.
- Restoran-a bit fancier than a lokanta, these establishments have menus and alcohol available.
- Meyhane-a laid-back restaurant where you can spend hours dining on meze and sipping raki. There is usually also main dishes in the forms of meat and/or fish.
- Kebabci/Kofteci-quick service spots with a simple atmosphere that serve kebabs and kofte, as well as soup and salads as well.
- Pideci-a Turkish version of a pizza parlor where lahmacun and pide are the main stars. If the restaurant has wood-burning ovens, this is a sign that these places are the real deal.
- Borekci-a tiny stall that sells different kinds of borek and usually also ayran (a tart, salty yogurt drink) to wash it all down.
- Pastane-a bakery where you can get freshly baked sweet and savory treats like zeytinli poğaça (olive pastries) and simit.
Related post: 11 Top Turkish Foods To Try In Turkey
What are your favorite Izmir restaurants?
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