A cool breeze carrying the scent of the sea, picturesque views, and the meditative sounds of seagulls, foghorns, and boats; Üsküdar is Istanbul’s most ancient residential area. After all, it was founded in the 7th century by Ancient Greek settlers. That is seven centuries before the Ottoman Empire and a few decades before the Byzantium Empire settled on the European shore.
The home of various cultural sites such as libraries, museums, and mosques, this is a neighborhood that has hosted some of the most important names in Ottoman, Byzantium, and modern Turkey’s history.
Üsküdar is also the home of the famous Kâtibim song, one of Turkey’s most well-known and old songs. This magical song has been exported to the US as far back a the 1920s and is well-known in the Balkans.
If you wish to soak up the history, magnificent views, and relaxing sounds of this district of Istanbul, we have compiled 8 of the best restaurants.
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Best restaurants in Üsküdar:
1. Villa Bosphorus
Entering this restaurant is like ascending to Mount Olympus. As soon as you enter, the marble-like quality sparkles in such a way that you know they take cleaning and hygiene seriously here. The white decoration will have you wondering if you’ve died and entered seafood heaven. If you sit at a table by the Bosphorous, you’ll feel like you’re on an elegant cruise. Sit a little out, however, and you may wonder if you’re in the Garden of Eden.
Each bite in Villa Bosphorus is like Turkish delight: fluffy, light, and heavenly. If you can disturb the meal which is so lovely, it may as well be in an art gallery. With its business meeting room, fireplace room, and VIP lounge, the fresh ingredients will ensure you’ll be remembered as the host with the most.
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2. Metet Közde Döner
They only do what they do best: döner kebab. The minimalistic menu will still have you puzzling over which of the three is the best choice. Choosing your portion size gives you a sense of control that you won’t find anywhere else. It may be hard to find such succulent meat elsewhere in Istanbul, yet the décor is also something to rave about.
Located in a cobblestoned street, the inside of Metet Közde Döner has wooden floors and pretty curtains that’ll remind you of your grandma’s home. Although there’s dizzyingly stunning artwork on the walls, the interior looks a little bit like it belongs in the world of Red Riding Hood. If that’s not your thing, why not warm up yourself up with a kebab on one of their outdoor tables?
If the setting sun doesn’t make you feel something, perhaps people-watching will add a little amusement to your meal.
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3. Nakkaş Kebap
The colorful kids’ room may have you wishing you were a child again. Still, for us grown-ups, the elegant design is not to be missed. With parking in front, this huge restaurant hosts various halls: you can sit in the fairy-tale-like hall or sit by the window to watch the beautiful greenery outside.
The dishes are the usual suspects that Turks love to eat when they eat out (i.e., kebabs), but the dapper waiters add some class. Nakkaş Kebap is perfect for events such as weddings or families, and especially big families will find a big, warm welcome here.
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4. Filizler Köftecisi
With 25 years of experience making the famous Balkan meatballs (their specialty), it’s no wonder that this place is still going on strong. The French fries are so beloved that you can hear an ex-patron gossiping about them years after visiting.
If the views of the Maidens Tower, Hagia Sophia, and Bosphorus don’t stun you, the quaint rustic décor may. Don’t be fooled: they do have a wide selection, from soups and salads to fish and even breakfast. In other words, whether you’re on keto or the Atkins, you can cheat with the scrumptious desserts.
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5. Kanaat Lokantası
Boy, do Turks love their red meat. However, vegetarians and vegans who are sick of the same, boring salads are more than welcome here. This restaurant may not have awe-inspiring views, but it certainly has humble prices that may shock.
Despite the economic nature, the taste is not sacrificed. How could it? Founded by three brothers, who had inherited 150 years in the dairy confectionery and ice-cream sector, you can taste this family tradition in each bite. With good ingredients, authentic taste, and various choices, how can you go wrong with Kanaat Lokantası, an authentic Turkish restaurant located in the middle of Üsküdar.
6. Borsa Restaurant
Since 2006, Borsa has seamlessly blended Ottoman, contemporary Turkish, and local Anatolian cuisine into an art form. Somewhere between an Ottoman Palace and a Cave of Wonder, this brilliantly designed restaurant will have you feeling like you’re an ambassador representing your country in Turkey.
Although their focus is on red meat, you can still find decadent fish and vegetarian dishes. For those with a sweet tooth, the dessert menu will transport you to a whole new world!
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7. Del Mare Ristorante
A high-class seafood restaurant drenched in history. Built by the Ottomans in the early 1800s, this elephant barn turned spirit factory turned restaurant is Mecca for seafood fans.
Whether you have a hankering for swordfish with white wine followed by luscious quince dessert with a shot of whiskey or the healthier option of salad, fish, and freshly squeezed orange juice, this restaurant has an award-winning A La Carte menu to satisfy your every whim.
Combined with the brilliant views, you can reach this spot by land or sea – with their free boat service.
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8. Çengelköy Tarihi Çınaraltı
Çengelköy Tarihi Çınaraltı in a few words; sitting outside under the centuries-old plane tree, breathing in the fresh oxygen from trees outside with locals, smelling that sea air, and watching the world go by.
In this family-oriented tea and coffee house, you can order a hot hamburger or even bring something from home for a picnic vibe. For those allergic to cats, beware; you may find a couple beneath your feet, vacuuming the floors behind you. This reasonably priced eatery is the kind of place you come to write that novel.
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These are the 8 of the best restaurants in Üsküdar. Whether you’re looking for a place with delicious Turkish cuisine or somewhere that serves Mediterranean food, we hope these suggestions provide some inspiration to help you find your next favorite restaurant.
If you can’t make it out here to enjoy our culinary delights, why not book one of our food tours. We’ll take you around İstanbul’s most famous neighborhoods tasting all sorts of local specialties like döner kebab, baklava & more – so grab your appetite and come on an epic taste-venture with us today!
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