Istanbul is a foodie’s dream come true. Fresh ingredients are used in the creation of Istanbul’s wonderful street cuisine, which can be found on street corners or in restaurants around the city. When it comes to identifying the district’s freshest, quickest, and tastiest cuisine, they are the greatest possible guides because they have tasted their way through it. Istanbul, a city known for its kebabs and lahmacun, is a world of cheap foods, including fish, vegetables, meat, and cereals, all at a reasonable price. In the vicinity of the Grand Bazaar, these are my top ten favorite inexpensive restaurants. These are my recommendations if you happen to be in the old city region and are in the mood for some delicious local cuisine.
1. Dürümcü Mustafa
Dürüm (the infamous meat wrap) is the way to go if you want to eat outside and want a quick and hearty lunch. And where to go…Mustafa is your man. Located in the Grand Bazaar, you sit on tiny stools and order a spicy beef wrap called “Adana” or a chicken wrap. Ask for roasted peppers on the side if you want them hot. Enjoy your wrap while observing the tourists and passers-by. The taste of the wrap is worth a visit.
2. Aynen Dürüm
Aynen Dürüm is a tiny kebab stall in the Grand Bazaar that serves excellent dürüm. It’s a little eatery full of ravenous residents chewing down with a wild recklessness uncommon in town. In the middle of the double-sided outdoor counter were containers filled with grilled peppers, sliced pickles, and parsley. The tiny interior is occupied by a charcoal barbecue and Smail, the joint’s 10-year-old grill master. Smail takes wraps seriously, offering two types of lavaş (flatbread): classic thin and thicker, chewier.
3. Aslan Restaurant
Aslan Restaurant is on Vezirhan Street, just outside the bazaar. It is on the second floor of a building with clear signs. Since 1988, Aslan has been a nice place to sit back, look out the window, and eat traditional Turkish and Ottoman food. The menu changes every day, and you can even order fresh fish, which is pretty rare for a tradesmen’s restaurant. Sea bass or salmon may be the catch of the day when they are in season. After every meal, you are always given a glass of Turkish tea.
4. Şark Kahvesi
A cup of tea or coffee at ark Kahvesi, the Grand Bazaar’s most popular coffeehouse, is a great way to relax and observe the people around you. Wooden tables, Anatolian tablecloths, antiques, and framed portraits add to the vintage feel of the decor. Additionally, Turkish coffee and tea are traditionally prepared in copper pots over an open fire with hot sand. It’s possible to order anything from grilled sandwiches to desserts, including cheesecake and baklava.
5. Bursa Gül Restaurant
Soup is a traditional breakfast in Turkey, especially in the winter. Soups are served to start at 6:30 a.m. Enjoy your soup while watching the chef make köftes, the omnipresent meatballs that never look like balls yet are always interpreted as such in English. Lunch is served at 11:30, with freshly produced home-style foods on display. I recommend the grilled “köfte” meal, or for something lighter, the slow-cooked white beans with rice.
6. Dönerci Şahin Usta
Another old-school diner serving one of Istanbul’s best ground beef döner sandwiches. In a tiny hole in the wall, you can either eat inside the business, which only holds two people or outside in front of the shop. They only open for lunch and have big lineups, so go there early and have a glass of homemade Aryan (yogurt drink) with your döner sandwich. If you don’t want to consume too much bread, you can buy half a “pide” with the entire fillings.
7. Gaziantep Burç Ocakbaşi
Located on a quiet side street off one of the Grand Bazaar’s busiest thoroughfares, this modest grill place serves delicious food from Gaziantep, one of Turkey’s culinary capitals. It was served with a lovely salad topped with chopped walnuts and pomegranate molasses. Only a few tables along the length of the lane where the restaurant is located. The atmosphere is set by the dried eggplant and pepper strings hanging above the tables, the smoke and sizzle from the grill, and the Buzz of the bazaar.
8. Gül Ebru Kantin
Gül Ebru Kantin, which is believed to serve the best döner in the Grand Bazaar, is often bustling with people looking for a fast snack on the go or a seat at one of the few available tables. Ayran (a Turkish beverage) is a good accompaniment to the dürüm (döner wrapped in soft thin flatbread), which can be eaten with or without melted cheese (yogurt drink mixed with salt).
9. Kara Mehmet Kebap Salonu
This is one of our favorite spots in Istanbul, not just the Grand Bazaar. For those who want their kebabs with a little more kick, there’s a small eatery with a mustachioed usta that grills everything to perfection. The Cebeci Han is an oasis of tranquility compared to the activity of the rest of the bazaar, which is mainly occupied by modest stores where rugs are repaired rather than sold.
10. Havuzlu Restaurant
Havuzlu Restaurant, which opened in 1959 and has remained a Grand Bazaar favorite ever since is a true Grand Bazaar institution. As you’d expect from a tradesmen’s restaurant, the food is classic Turkish and Ottoman fare, and it’s displayed in a cafeteria-style display case to keep it hot until it’s served. Arrive before 3 p.m. to avoid missing out on the daily specials. The restaurant’s name, Havuzulu (“restaurant with a fountain”), comes from the fountain outside, where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.
11. Ziya Büfe
This establishment only serves Turkish-pressed sandwiches (toast). Two pieces of buttered white or bran bread stuffed with cheese, cold meats, etc. However, their most popular sandwich isn’t on the menu and must be requested by name. It’s called “hac malik” and it’s made with white cheese, fresh mint, dill, parsley, and tomato slices. Get a sandwich and a drink of orange juice and sit outside on the Nuruosmaniye street seats to people-watch.
12. Gaziantep Burç Kebap
Located in the Turkish city of Gaziantep, which is famous for its kebap, the ocakbaş is the perfect place to have a delicious meal of grilled meat (copper, hooded grill). On Burç, the alinazik (marinated beef on eggplant purée) and the walnut and pomegranate salad are two of the most popular dishes. Despite the fact that Burç only has a few tables, it’s absolutely worth the wait.
13. Bahar Lokantası
Similar to Havuzlu, Bahar serves great home-cooked meals to locals alone. In one of the hundreds of inns that make up the Grand Bazaar, this restaurant is tucked away in a corner To enjoy the hot buffet, arrive between 12:00 and 12:30 p.m. for a half share of the day’s soup, followed by the main meal with bulghur pilaf (my favorite!) or rice pilaf. Like a true Turk, end the dinner with a hot cup of tea from the “çayoca”.
14. Gül Otantik
As you approach the food display counter, Gül, the chef who named the restaurant, smiles at you. This family-run establishment near the rambling Nuruosmaniye street makes you feel right at home. Everyday dishes are prepared here. So virtually every Monday you’ll find me there, savoring a dish of homemade “mant” (dough dumplings stuffed with beef and served with yogurt and tomato sauce).
15. Backstreet Kebabs And Dolmasi
Some visitors to the Grand Bazaar feel compelled to depart the area for an afternoon nap after a morning spent dodging tourists and exchanging banter with sellers. However, some brave people take a detour from Yalikçilar Caddesi to snatch a table in front of Gaziantep Burç Ocakbaş’s backstreet. This well-liked ocakbaş (eatery where customers can watch their kebabs being cooked over coals). Dolmasi (stuffed eggplant and red peppers with rice and herbs) are a vegetarian’s dream come true, while the spicy Adana kebap here is ideal for those who plan to return to the mercantile maelstrom after their lunch.
16. Pak Pide Pizza Salonu
This is a hidden gem near Grand Bazaar. An adventure in itself, Pak Pide & Pizza Salonu is concealed in a narrow and winding path behind the ancient Büyük Valide Han, a large 17th-century caravanserai just north of the Grand Bazaar. The pide cooks here keep the wood-fired oven fueled and turn out some of the city’s best and cheapest pides. They’re best eaten hot. Gaziantep is famous for its kebap, so it’s no surprise that this modest restaurant serves delicious grilled beef prepared to order on the ocakbaş (copper, hooded grill). Burç’s specialties include alinazik (marinated beef morsels served on eggplant purée) and walnut salad.
17. Dürümcü Raif Usta
Dürümcü Raif Usta, a cafeteria-style ocakbaş east of the Grand Bazaar, boasts an assembly line of employees assisting the diligent usta (master chef), a testament to the quality and popularity of its Adana and Urfa dürüm kebaps (grilled mincemeat, raw onion, and parsley wrapped in lavaş bread). Both the Adana and the Urfa are excellent, low-cost meals. Consider ordering an ayran (yoghurt and salt frothy drink) as a complement.
18. Vefa Bozacs
Here’s one for those who like to take chances. Vefa Bozacs is a famous bar in an Ottoman-era residential neighbourhood west of the Grand Bazaar. It opened in 1876 and has a beautiful tiled interior, friendly staff, and boza, a drink made from water, sugar, and fermented barley that looks like mucus. With a sprinkle of cinnamon and dried chickpeas on top, it has a slight lemony tang and a reputation for making men stronger and more virile.
19. Bena Dondurmalar
Dondurma (Turkish ice cream) and frn sütlaç (rice pudding) are tried-and-true afternoon energy boosters for retailers in the Grand Bazaar, but there’s a new dessert that’s taking this section of the city by storm: the trileçe. Bena Dondurmalar, a modest ice cream shop in the courtyard of the Atik Ali Paşa Mosque near the emberlitaş tram station, is the best place to sample one of these creamy sponge cakes coated with caramel. Additionally, dondurma and frn sütlaç are available for traditionalists.
20. Halka Tatlısı And Tulumba
These are the Turkish variant of churros, which are shaped like a bagel. With these Turkish donuts, you can add a little sweetness to every step. Most dessert shops and some cake shops sell them, and they are one of the cheapest Turkish desserts available. They can be purchased from street vendors or purchased from most dessert shops and some cake shops.