Recommended food and restaurants in Kusadasi, Turkey
The rumor is that if you wish to taste some of the great dishes of Ottoman tradition, you would have to be invited into people’s homes because true Turkish cuisine seems to be related to a house full of women, sitting at home all day, with nothing to do but prepare intricate and subtle dishes.
All is not lost though. These is plenty of delicious street food you must not miss but also a whole lot of restaurants that will offer you the best choices of the Turkish and international cuisine.
To help you out, I have gathered a list of some eating options for you. In Kusadasi, you can choose from:
Street Food, which includes kebabs, lahmacun, pide and an assortment of burgers and sandwiches. Kebabs are dishes of plain or marinated meat either stewed or grilled. They are available almost anywhere and they are cheap.
Doner is a spit of lamb or chicken from which slices of meat are cut. It is served in a half loaf with raw onions and tomato but it could be also served with rice, chips or bread.
Shish includes cubes of lamb, beef or chicken meat grilled on wooden skewers and served in the same way as doners.
Kofte are meatballs, predominantly lamb. You can get them grilled in different shapes and sizes. People who make and sell kofte are usually last on the street to stop cooking and you can always run into a kofte van until early in the morning.
Pide is in touristy areas known as Turkish Pizza but the name is only used for advertising purposes and nothing else. Pide is actually a long thin banana shaped bread, rolled with some skill from a small ball of dough and then covered with the topping of your choice and burned in the oven for a short time. The resulting pide is sliced up and served piping hot.
Lokantas are cheap Turkish restaurants that serve pre-cooked food kept warm over burners. The food is usually pretty good although it may not seem so in the first place.
Iskembe joints selling iskembe of course, which is tripe based soup that claims to prevent hangovers but only if eaten at 3 am.
Restaurants – it would be best if you sought some authentic places if planning on trying Turkish dishes, which is not that easy in Kusadasi though. In front of every restaurant, there is a waiter inviting you to visit them and not another restaurant. Additionally, there’s always a large menu or photos with dishes and prices, so you can see their offer.
The Turks are famous for their Meze. Meze arouse the appetite before the main dish and are accompanied by wine or raki, an alcoholic beverage made of anise also known as “lions drink” because you must be strong as a lion to drink it.
The meze is primarily composed of vegetable dishes such as braised artichokes, broad beans in tomato sauce, vine leaves stuffed with rice, currants and pine nuts, mustard greens, beet salads, eggplant and a lot of yogurt.
The best known meze are gozleme, fried aubergines with yogurt, lakerda (bonito pre-served in brine), pastirma (pressed beef), kisir, humus, fish croquettes, and lambs’ brains with plenty of lemon juice.
Do not miss trying out some of the Turkish sweets as they are famous throughout the world. The best known are “baklava” and “kadayif” pastries but others such as “sütlac”, “tavuk gögsü”, “kazandibi”, “helva”, “asure” are also very good.
Some of the national drinks that need to be mentioned are Turkish coffee, Turkish tea, ayran, shira, salgam, sahlep and boza.
Fish Restaurants – Whenever you are in a fish restaurant, it is advisable to start with hot or cold Meze (starters) and then move on to a plate of fish. Besides vegetable dishes, meze can also include seafood, mostly shrimp and calamari. There is a variety of fresh and flavorful seafood in these restaurants. The fish is often grilled or fried and served with olive oil and lemon juice.
There are a few famous Kusadasi restaurants but this changes from year to year. What was famous one year, it may not be the next. If it’s full, it must be good. Enjoy!
Some of the recommended Kusadasi restaurants are:
Be-Bop Restaurant and Bar – one of the best international cuisines in Kusadasi with moderate prices.
Cimino Bistro and Cafe – popular among British Irish and Scottish tourists
Cafe Cafe Patisier and Cafe – famous meeting point for visitors and locals, serves international cuisine and Turkish pastries
Konyali Restaurant – Traditional Turkish cuisine with kebaps and pide, the “Turkish Pizza”