Ask any tourist about Turkish food, and they’ll tell you all about kebabs. Ask a Turk, and they’ll describe the mouth-watering pleasure that is mantı: A hint of meat caressed by soft dough, swimming in a garlic yogurt embrace with a kiss of sauce. Add a little mint, sumac, and pepper to get the culinary dreams of a local Istanbulite that knows Turkish food. This short description should be enough for you to search for the best mantı in Istanbul.
One well-known variation of mantı is called the “Bosnian mantı.” A skilled chef will roll out the dough so thin that it’s almost translucent. Another famous variation of mantı comes from an Anatolian city named Kayseri. Customarily, when a couple was engaged, the bride-to-be would prepare mantı for her prospective mother-in-law. The mother-in-law would check the maiden’s skills not only in making the mantı but also in serving it. It is said that the smaller the dumplings are, the more adroit the bride-to-be is in the kitchen. How small? Forty dumplings should fit onto one spoon!
That is why you’ll find that the dumplings in Turkey are closer to the size of the Italian ravioli than Asian dumplings. However, don’t let this fool you. This exquisite dish “mantı” is comparable to jiaozi, mandu, momo, and other Asian dumplings, often erroneously compared to tortellini by occidental visitors. In fact, its origins are thought to be from Mongolia or the Uyghurs – both cultures are considered to be grandparents of modern-day Turks.
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Suppose you’re now curious about the taste of this coveted dish that made its way down the silk road; no worries, we got you. Here is a list of six of the best restaurants in Istanbul that serve the traditional mantı:
1. Doyum Mantı, Cihangir
With its charming old-fashioned decoration, Doyum Mantı should undoubtedly be on your to-taste list. They host three different types of mantı: the traditional ‘handmade,’ the Bosnian style, and a crisp fried version. If you visit in the morning, they have a wide selection of wonderous breakfast foods that’ll keep you full until dinner!
If it’s your first time eating, definitely stop by. The reviewers gush about the kindness of the servers and the location of the restaurant. Open from 7:30 am to midnight, the café boasts of having wi-fi and can accept credit cards if tasting one of the best manti in Istanbul won’t be enough for you.
Address: Firuzağa Mahallesi, Firuzağa Cami Sokak, No 1/B, Beyoğlu, İstanbul
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2. Sayla Mantı, Kadıköy
Once upon a time, Sayla Mantı was the go-to place for any celebrity that desired mantı. While they do have “Çiğ Börek” and a couple of other dishes, but the mantı steals the show from production at 10 am to the last call.
The best part? If you’re having guests over and you can’t be bothered to cook, Sayla has got you covered: you can buy the dumplings by the kilo and boil it when you get home! Don’t forget to throw some flour on yourself and tell your guests how long you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen.
Address: Caferağa Mah., Nail Bey Sk No: 32/A, Kadıköy, İstanbul
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3. Sinop Mantı, Beşiktaş
If you leave Istanbul without stopping by Sinop Mantı and tasting one of the best manti in Istanbul, you only have yourself to blame. Not only is the menu rife with amazingly creative food, but the mantı itself is a revelation. You can choose different fillings from spinach to cheese to meat, and you can even try dumplings with walnuts. Yes, that’s right: walnuts! Where else can you taste the crunchy goodness of nuts in your dumpling?
Slightly more expensive than the other options but worth tasting. It is highly recommended that you book before you go.
Address: Sinanpaşa Mahallesi, Sinanpaşa Köprüsü Sokak, No 4/1, Beşiktaş, İstanbul
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4. Nişantaşı Mantıcısı, Nişantaşı
Have you ever wanted to try six different types of delicious ravioli-like dishes? Nişantaşı Mantıcısı has it covered. Highly recommended for the taste and the pleasant staff, this cozy restaurant will have you feeling like you’re a guest amongst the natives.
Address: Teşvikiye, Poyracik Sk 61 B, Şişli/İstanbul
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5. Aşkana Mantı, Ulus
This is absolutely the place to bring your boss, date, and future family-in-law – in short, anyone you wish to impress. It hosts a lovely, understated décor. Unlike most restaurants with a fancy ambiance, the portions are quite filling. They do have both the fried and the boiled versions of Turkish mantı. The best thing? If you can’t get to Ulus, you can pop into one of the other branches of Aşkana Mantı scattered around Istanbul.
Address: Maslak Mah, Maslak 1453 Cd, Sarıyer, İstanbul
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6. Yeni Lokanta, Beyoğlu
Located in the touristic Istiklal Caddesi, this is one completely different than other restaurants we have listed so far. Yeni Lokanta is a fine dining restaurant and was recently featured on the “Worlds 50 Best” website. Their mantı is one of the best in Istanbul but it is only served with a progressive tasting menu.
The menu is rich with audacious and fascinating other delights: from healthy and delicious salads to octopus, monkfish, and buffalo ice cream. Yes, this is the place that’ll have you wondering: “is that an accurate translation, or am I just dreaming of gastronomic adventures?”
If you’ve never tried mantı and want to make your first tasting the best, get yourself down to Yeni Lokanta in Beyoğlu today. The restaurant’s tasting menu offers a contemporary spin on classic Turkish dishes. Although it is the most expensive restaurant on this list, there is a reason why we’re gushing.
Make a reservation here.
Address: Tomtom Mahallesi, Kumbaracı Ykş. No:66, Beyoğlu, İstanbul
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If you’re visiting Istanbul, or even just passing through for a visit, we recommend that you try the best manti in town in one of the restaurants above. There are also hundreds of other delicious foods waiting for you to discover if this is your first time in Istanbul- don’t miss out! Join our food tours tasting traditional Turkish food and get an insider’s perspective on what it means to be living Istanbul today.
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