There is almost no reliable source on the internet about where to eat cheaply in Istanbul for the tourists visiting Turkey. Take a look at this article, which will be an alternative to guide books and internet sites that give information about popular and expensive restaurants.
Here I will give you a few addresses where you can go and enjoy delicious food at a good price in Istanbul.
Discover Cheap Flavor Stops!
- Siirt Şeref Buryan Kebab Shop
A small lamb is slowly cooked on the burning coals at the bottom of a well drilled into the ground. The light fat layer on the soft meat is crispy when cooked. Both delicious and reasonably priced. $20 on average for two people.
Address: İtfaiye Street No: 4 Fatih
- Köfteci Hüseyin
The moment you enter this tiny place, the waiter approaches and asks you: Is it one portion and one and a half? And then the second question comes: Do you want haricot bean salad? Do you ever eat meatballs without haricot bean salad? The meatballs in the size of a coin are also quite fat.
Go to Huseyin and order a one and a half portion of meatballs. When you eat these meatballs served with a piece of fresh bread, a pinch of hot red pepper sauce and fresh onions, you’ll understand why the meatballs aren’t ‘just meatballs’. $10 on average for two people.
Address: Kurabiye Street Akgün İşhanı No: 11 Beyoğlu
- Pera Sisore, The Charm of the Black Sea
Those who see the plates full of ready-to-eat dishes placed on top of the steam table to keep them warm can confuse Sisore with one of the self-service lunch restaurants available all over the country at first glance.
But there is a difference from the others: someone is seriously dealing with the magic of the Black Sea in the kitchen. Sisore’s favorite dish is the haricot bean pilaki with butter and plenty of tomato paste. $10 on average for two people.
Address: Oteller Street No: 6 Beyoğlu
Fürreyya, a few meters from the Galata Tower, is located at a busy corner and is much more delicious and affordable than other fancy fish restaurants in Istanbul. On the menu, there are mostly fishes cooked in the charcoal grill or fishes floured and roasted.
However, it is not always possible to find every fish; because the fish in Fürreyya varies according to the season. $15 on average for two people.
Address: Serdar-ı Ekrem Street No: 2 Kuledibi Beyoğlu
- Van Kahvaltı Evi
The breakfast house in the Cihangir neighborhood of Beyoğlu has recently become a popular destination for many people; because it offers you a unique breakfast plate. You can also enrich your breakfast plate with menemen, cheese, potato or spinach pancakes.
Van Kahvaltı Evi is usually crowded on weekends. Therefore, if you want to go to this place to have a nice breakfast, our advice is to hit the road early.
$10 on average for two people.
Address: Defterdar Yokuşu No: 52.1 Cihangir
If you try to remember this place with its name, you’re going to have a little trouble. Because there is no sign of this place located at the corner of Sofyalı street. If you can see the Helvetia from the barely read graffiti, you are at the right place.
Let’s leave its name aside, if you have eaten here once, you won’t be able to forget here. They’re really good at olive oil dishes. If you are one of those who likes to eat healthily it means this place is tailor-made for you. $15 on average for two people.
Address: General Yazgan Street / Asmalımescit
Cheap Fish Restaurants in Istanbul
One of the first dishes that comes to mind when talking about Istanbul is fish. Instead of luxury restaurants, you can taste the most delicious fish by going to the shabby fish restaurants. Here are 5 fish restaurants where you can eat cheap fish in Istanbul.
- Palukçu, Şehremini
Fish Soup followed by cornbread with their own salad and the fish type which is fresh in that season. Horse mackerel, whiting or sea bass. A delicious stop where you can pig out on fish. Must try. No alcohol.
Address: Capa Mahallesi, Buyuk Saray Meydani Caddesi, No 13, Fatih, Istanbul
- İsmet Baba, Kuzguncuk
Although recently criticized with the higher prices compared to the past, it is an experienced address that comes to mind first when you want to go to a fish restaurant. Special pastry and fish bacon should be tried. There is alcohol as well.
Address: Çarşı St. No: 1 / A Kuzguncuk- Uskudar, Istanbul
- Sandal Balık Evi, Yeniköy
There are now 2 places of Sandal Balık Evi in Yeniköy. Both are delicious. Their special ”fish simit” is delightful. No alcohol.
Address: Köybaşı St. No: 143 Yeniköy, Istanbul
- Takanik, Arnavutköy
In addition to the rocket salad with ezine cheese at the branch in Arnavutköy, you should try the mullet or sea bass grills. No alcohol. Cornbreads are really nice, especially if they just come out of the oven. No alcohol.
Address: Bebek St. No: 87, Arnavutköy, İstanbul
- Adem Baba, Arnavutköy
Calamari is delicious, umbra and whiting fillets are cooked to a turn. The price/performance ratio is very good. No alcohol.
Address: Satış Meydanı St. No: 2 Arnavutköy, Istanbul
Street Food in Istanbul
Istanbul, the most gourmet city in the world, is waiting for you with the best street food. If you want to discover Istanbul’s street tastes, this is the list you need.
The Oldest Tradition: Grilled Fish Sandwich
Istanbul’s oldest taste is probably the grilled fish sandwich. Thanks to the fertile waters of the Bosphorus, the city of Istanbul has been fishing since ancient times (and perhaps even earlier) and the locals eat the freshest of the Bosphorus fish.
Eminonu is recommended as the best place to eat fish in Istanbul. However, this is not the case. Now you will learn the secret that only fish lovers know: You can find the best fish sandwiches in Bebek and Arnavutköy.
The City That Mussel Sellers Feed You With Their Hands
You can come across all the seaside districts in Istanbul with stuffed mussel vendors. Stuffed mussel was an appetizer sold in Greek taverns in Ottoman times and Armenian cooks prepared the best stuffed mussels in the pre-republic period. Over time, this title pass to the Assyrians who come to Istanbul from Mardin. This is the reason why many mussel sellers are from Mardin nowadays.
The stuffed mussels had their own jargon in the old days. The tradition was eating the mussels from the hands of mussel sellers. Nowadays, this is not preferred because of hygienic expectations.
So where to eat stuffed mussels in Istanbul? The answer to this question depends on you. Our suggestion is to start from Beylerbeyi and go on through Üsküdar, Beşiktaş, and Taksim. You should discover where is the best mussel in Istanbul.
Mussels are also consumed as sandwiches and are called fried mussels. If you want to eat the best fried mussels in Istanbul, you can go to Kadıköy and Beşiktaş streets.
The Taste Warming The Winter Cold: Chestnut Kebab
The most familiar smell of Istanbul’s streets originates from chestnut kebab. This pungent odor struck your nose as you sneak through the streets of the city, pulling you back and making you find yourself chatting with the chestnut seller.
You can find chestnut kebab in many parts of the world, and you can easily prepare yourself at home. Place the chestnuts in the aluminum foil together with the rock salt and cook in a 200 degree heated oven.
Lord of the Speciality Meats: Kokoreç
Kokoreç, another Istanbul street taste who gained his identity with his scent, is a kind of fagot. It is cooked differently based on the region. For example in Istanbul, meat from the intestines of a lamb cooked on a special grill and put between the bread, then sweetened with cumin.
It is unclear who made the Kokoreç first, but in some sources, this recipe goes through even in ancient Greece. According to the written sources, an Albanian dish with the name of kokoretsi, entered Turkish cuisine in Ottoman times.
Much More Than a Potato: Kumpir
Even though it is a very old tradition of cooking and baking potatoes, the idea of putting appetizers such as kashar cheese, olives and corn, as well as spiced mutton liver, sausage, and bulgur salad into potatoes is new. Baked potato with salad named as krumpir in the Balkans was named Kumpir in Turkey and became a much more delicious food.
Although the specific information about the history of Kumpir is not exactly known, it is introduced to Turkey at the beginning of the nineties. In Istanbul, it is said that the kumpir should be eaten in Ortaköy, but I think you should look for the best kumpir of Istanbul in the vicinity of Bakırköy, Kadıköy, Bebek or Avcılar.
Attention to Seagulls: Eating Bagel in Istanbul Steamers
One of the most popular street tastes of Istanbul is a bagel. It is one of the cheapest meals you can buy in Istanbul. When you walk the streets, if you hear a variety of cries from a distance which you don’t understand what’s going on, it means a bagel seller is approaching you. Local people don’t find it strange because they are familiar with this situation.
In Istanbul, there is another pretender of bagels apart from man: Seagulls. Seagulls traveling around the ferryboats of Istanbul can come and eat your bagels gently and sometimes aggressively. My suggestion is to share your bagel with them.
Super Hero of Night Trip Munchies: Rice with Chickpeas
In the evening, many streets of Istanbul are filled with people selling rice. The first choice of people returning from the night entertainment is these mobile cars where there are rice, salad and chicken are served. If you don’t forget to ask for home-made ayran, you can give your stomach a big feast.
So where is the best mobile chickpea rice? Take a look around Tahtakale and Unkapanı, you will find the most delicious rice for sure.
Cheap Food and Drink Guide for Taksim
Anyone who comes to Istanbul and has an active social life visit Taksim Square. Taksim, which is the center of Istanbul in almost every sense, has plenty of alternatives for every taste and every budget.
I’ve compiled for you some recommendations that will reduce your overnight cost considerably, but at the same time add pleasure to your joy. It is not difficult to find both cheap and delicious, especially in Taksim.
- Beyaz Lokanta
Prepare to be fascinated at the moment you enter the door in this small but cozy restaurant located at İmam Adnan Street. It has a self-service concept but it is a place which makes a difference in decoration. You can find all kinds of meat and vegetables in their original tastes at any time of the day. Grilled meat varieties are also available, especially the meatballs with kashar cheese is one of the most admired dishes. An average of 3 dish types and a drink will cost between $ 6-7.
- Balkan Lokantası
One of the most famous and oldest restaurants of Taksim, which has a self-service concept in Büyük Parmakkapı Street is Balkan Lokantası. They have no special dishes, especially those that stand out. However, we can say that all the dishes on the menus are very delicious. As time passed by, the taste of the dishes, especially the soups, go bad, so there will be a difference between going during the day and going late. An average of 3 types of dishes and a drink will cost between $ 4 and $ 7.
- Yemek Kulübü
Yemek Kulübü is located on İstiklal Street. They make people love themselves with their tastes but at the same time making Turkish People sad with their serving sizes. The only disadvantage of it is being a bit far from the Taksim square. The service is quick and the dishes are delicious. Ravioli and chocolate soufflé are the most preferred dishes. It is a place that will always have a place in our minds and hearts even though it is a bit more expensive than others.
- Mangal Keyfi
Mangal Keyfi, which has long been one of the first places to come to mind when you want to eat some wraps, has enshrined our memory with its music concept and the opposing posters they put on the walls. The wraps are delightful, you can have pleasant conversations with the staff. If you are a student and you haven’t eaten anything on that day, go to Mangal Keyfi and see if there is a voucher on the billboard right away, if you see a voucher there, you can show your student ID and eat your food free of charge because a nice person you have never met has already ordered you to eat.
- Gala Kokoreç
As you go down the Galata Tower, you’ll see a little kokoreç place at the corner, just enter. It’s the most beautiful kokoreç you can eat on Earth. The only flaw of this kokoreç place, who has been the best for many years, is that it doesn’t sell fried mussels. It is, of course, possible to make do with stuffed mussels, but I hope that they will start selling fried mussels too. 1 quarter of a loaf bread full of kokoreç is $ 1.5.
Cheap and Delicious: Istanbul’s Local Restaurants
Aside from the suitability of prices, the local restaurants that stand out with the taste of their dishes have an important place especially in the dining culture of Istanbul. The local restaurants in Istanbul are the most popular choice especially for those who want to stay away from fast food, pastries, frozen foods, longing for mother meals and prefer a wide variety of meals at modest prices. Here are the most attractive local restaurants.
- Hacı Abdullah Restaurant, Atıf Yılmaz Street/Beyoğlu
Hacı Abdullah has been serving in Beyoğlu since 1958, but the restaurant’s history dates back to the 1880s. The name of the first restaurant opened in Karaköy was Abdullah Efendi. Then after a few relocations, it took its current place and name. There is a tradition in Hacı Abdullah’s 100-year history, the restaurant is handed down to the apprentice from the master. And of course, there is the pleasure of eating the most delicious dishes of Turkey and the Ottoman cuisine in stylishly designed interiors where the spoken languages are mixed together. Prices at Haci Abdullah are not that high, and the dishes are very special.
- Şahin Lokantası, Asmalimescit
It is a tiny place that meets the definition of a local restaurant with both food and prices. Şahin Lokantasi, which is one of the popular choices for those who want to eat homemade food in Asmalımescit, has increased its recognition with the praises that spread from ear to ear. Of course, the quality of the food is also great. As the space is small, it can be a little difficult to find a table at noon hours. However, if you go late you may miss the most beautiful dishes of the day due to the demand. The prices are also quite reasonable.
- Maya Lokantası, Rumeli Caddesi/Nişantaşı
Maya attracts attention with its interior decoration at first glance. Dominant orange color and the meticulous appearance which signposts and tables reflect allows you to warm up to space. When it comes to food, Maya has a rich menu that is made from healthy, good ingredients. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it is on one of the flashy streets of Istanbul because its prices are quite normal. The restaurant has a rich olive oil dishes, salad, and dessert menu. We advise you to taste their own baked bread regardless of loving bread. This place is jam-packed at the weekday lunchtimes. Although it is a two-storey place, it is possible to wait for a table during busy times.
- Cıncık, Eşref Efendi Street/Pangaltı
It’s a cute, tiny little place like its name. The owner was also conversable, playfully Mustafa Abi. Cıncık has a growing reputation beyond Pangalti’s neighborhood residents. The healthiness of the food is more important than anything. Gluten-free flour, extra virgin olive oil, natural butter, and Himalayan salt are indispensable in the kitchen. Cıncık, which has been serving since 2011, serves 15 dishes each day. This place opens towards the evening, and it is closed at 2-3 at night. In addition to natural ingredients, they are also attentive in cooking methods. For example, according to Mustafa Abi, they cook green beans in low heat for four to five hours. This method is called “salma” in Anatolia. Portions are large, and the prices are reasonable. As it is written in cute lighted signs outside, they are assertive in haricot beans.
- Bankalar Lokantası, Bankalar Street/Karaköy
It is a beautiful restaurant that will catch your eye right on the right corner when you pass Salt Galata and turn right. The historic stone building, the flowers in front of it and the table captivate you at the first moment you see them. The lighting in the stone ceiling adds color to space. This place, as the name suggests, is also a favorite for many tourists due to its location. Prices are appropriate according to the elegance of the place and the region. Soup is $ 1, rice is $ 1, haricot beans is $ 2, grilled meatballs are $ 3, and a big salad is $ 3.
Istanbul: 2nd Cheapest Luxury Meal in Europe
Istanbul is the second best place to eat the cheapest meal in Europe with a price of 24.38 USD per person. The food club Gastroclub measured the average cost of a meal in the 30 tourist cities of Europe for the low-income group as well as the high-income group. Copenhagen was the city where the high-income group eat the most expensive food on the list. According to this, a person needs to get an average of 98.67 USD out of his pocket for a luxurious meal in Copenhagen.
In Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, which has the lowest number, it is enough to pay an average of 23.09 USD for a meal. Istanbul is second address on the list with the price of 24.38 USD for a meal. On the other hand, the average price among European countries is 50.85 USD.
In the research, restaurants are divided into two groups as higher-income and lower-income restaurants, and alcohol is not included in the prices per person. It is not surprising that Copenhagen, which is a gourmet city, is the first in the list in terms of prices. On the other hand, Sofia, which is the cheapest city in Europe in terms of living costs, is also the cheapest city in terms of luxury dining.
After Sofia, the two other cheapest cities in Europe are Istanbul and Prague. The fact that these countries are not included in the euro currency and that their currencies are cheap against the USD and euro is of great importance in terms of being the ‘cheapest’ city for both the upper income and the lower income group. Istanbul is one of the cheapest cities in Europe’s food and beverage sector both in lower income and higher income groups.