The Turks prize themselves on their cultural know-how. Despite the nationalistic pride, the Turks have high regard and undying respect for the rest of the world. Perhaps that’s why no matter how much the Turks happily boast about their kitchen, they too enjoy the wonders of different countries. Some Turks like to put an Anatolian twist on the international cuisines, and others like to keep things as traditional and authentic as possible.
Turkish cuisine has so many flavors and varieties that one would think it’s not possible to overdose on it. However, homesickness happens to the best of us. Even the king of Mandopop, Jay Chou, wrote a beautiful ballad titled ‘Istanbul’ about how much he misses that special someone, despite the fairy-tale nature of Istanbul. Istanbul, the city of natural cures, may not be able to cure a broken heart with food. However, if, just like Chou, you’re missing home, we have a carefully curated list of international restaurants In Istanbul that’ll ease that melancholic longing within you.
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List of Best International Restaurants in Istanbul:
1. Aida – Vino e Cucina, Italian
Finding a gluten-free Italian place must be like finding a rainbow eucalyptus tree. Not impossible, but not easy either. Yet, this wonderous spot goes further: whatever your dietary requirements, all you have to do is just tell a staff member. The vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are highlighted on the menu, but other dishes are customizable to suit your needs.
Speaking of finding rare things, this restaurant’s interior design could be said to combine the colorful rainbow eucalyptus tree with the visuals of the majestic white peacock. While color does exist, its muted nature ensures that it doesn’t dazzle but blends into your quiet tête-à-tête. If there is a lull in the conversation, one can simply comment on how chic this restaurant is designed.
The menu also offers a great selection of Turkish and Italian wines and Aida Vino e Cucina is one of the best restaurants in Istanbul serving Italian food.
You can bring your own desserts for an extra 10TL, but it would be a shame to miss their minimal but excellent treats.
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Address: Caferağa, no: 10, Ressam Şeref Akdik Sokağı No:10, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul
2. Asuman, Iranian
Though the vibe is somewhat low-key, you’ll still feel like a shah here. This is the place you come to feel full for humble prices. Even if you come hungry, it would be difficult to actually finish your plate. Yet, don’t be fooled by the décor; this spot will blow you away with its food. In fact, Iranian cuisine is irresistible for those that have tasted it before.
Though mostly unknown internationally, each dish is a fragrant, colorful, spectacular, and succulent masterpiece. No one quite knows how to make meat as soft and fluffy as the Iranians, and Asuman certainly don’t skimp out on that vibe. Mixing barberries into their rice, you’ll find the exotic ingredients taste much better than what you could imagine. Not too sweet, not too spicy, not too savory, not too sour: what this place is, however, is perfect for your tastebuds.
This is one of those places that even if you visit with high expectations, you’ll find yourself pleasantly overwhelmed.
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Address: Kemal Paşa, Haşim İşcan Gç. No:42 B, 34134 Fatih/İstanbul
3. Trattoria Serenzo, Italian
This humble restaurant is almost like visiting the house of an Italian friend’s nonna. The menu is chockful of choices that are perfect for friendship groups who have differing tastes. You will find creative options that you may have never thought of before. The lovely music may have you losing yourself to the rhythm. You may find the friendly staff may speak your language as they seem to be multilingual.
Vegan meals, salads, pizzas, and meat dishes are both authentic and delectable, and they pay careful attention to the taste as well as the presentation. You may find this simple place tempting you again and again.
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Address: Gayrettepe, Vefabey Sokağı Say apt D:No:25/C, 34349 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
4. Shang Palace, Cantonese
At Shang Palace, you may feel yourself to be in a classic Hong Kong movie. The décor is so graceful yet mysterious; it’s reminiscent of Tony Leung’s expressive eyes in ‘In the Mood for Love.’ Those who know all about Cantonese cuisine will recognize every dish, but those that may only know one or two famous dishes will be pleasantly surprised by the wide selection of choices. The English, Turkish, and Chinese language menu does have pictures, so you may be tempted to go all out.
At this fine dining restaurant, the food will far exceed your expectations as the executive chef, Cheng Lu, from China, has more than 30 years in the industry. Not to mention the awards that have been bestowed upon him.
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Address: Sinanpaşa, Hayrettin İskelesi Sk., 34353 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
5. IST TOO, International
This swanky, upmarket restaurant fuses the Turkish kitchen with varying international cuisines. Imagine eating genuine sushi as part of a meze. When we say genuine, we mean the sushi tastes exactly as it does in Japan.
Here, foodies get to travel down the Silk Route and into Europe. Although the executive chef has an artistic soul and a unique vision, the waiting staff are so friendly and professional that you may find yourself thinking about this place every time you visit a subpar eatery. With such an impressive, classic design, you may find yourself transported into another world.
This restaurant features pasta, pizza, sandwiches, seafood dishes, and salads alongside appetizers to make for a delicious meal. Their diverse menu also offers traditional Turkish kebabs and pides. If this is not enough, you will find the Mediterranean, middle east, and Asian flavors on their menu, in addition to an impressive vegetarian & vegan selection.
Just as Shang Palace, IST TOO is also located in Shangri-La Bosphorus.
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Address: Sinanpaşa, Hayrettin İskelesi Sk. No:1, 34353 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
6. Saruja Restaurant, Syrian
Syrian food seems to be the underdog of international cuisine. If you’ve never tried it before, you have absolutely no idea what you’re missing out on. However, there’s nothing to worry about: many Syrian restaurants opened in Istanbul in the last ten years, and Saruja is one of the best among them.
The portions are very Middle Eastern: in other words, bring your big trousers both for dinner or lunch because you’ll be stuffed like a turkey on New Year’s Day.
If you’re very concerned about cleanliness, the kitchen is open for all to peer into. The Syrian architecture inside, the restaurant has an elegant design. This is one of those places you sit by the window and discuss your exotic and wild dreams and ideas with your companion while the exotic, rare, but delicious food inspires you more. The time will melt by.
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Address: Akşemsettin, Akşemsettin Cd. NO:31-A, 34080 Fatih/İstanbul
7. Bistrot Français, French
You would never believe that this slice of heaven is a stone’s throw away from Taksim Square. The peaceful gardens give this Bistro that zen vibe: quiet, chilled, yet serious about the menu.
The French are famous for their cuisine and the value they put on one’s intellect. Thus, this classy spot is a beautiful place to sip some coffee and get some work done. Alternatively, if you wish to be Parisian truly, you can borrow a French book that you can enjoy with a glass of wine.
Whilst there is live music on Wednesday and Friday, this is a welcoming spot for solo visitors: whether you wish to mingle and make new friends or wish to have a moment to yourself, this is the most delicious place you can escape to.
Tucked inside the French Cultural Centre, you may need to leave a form of identity by security. Further, the staff do speak French and Turkish but not English.
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Address: Şehit Muhtar, İstiklal Cd. No:4, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
8. Dubb Indian, Indian
Founded in 1998, this visionary restaurant has two branches: one in Sultanahmet (Old city) with amazing views of Hagia Sophia from its terrace and one in Şişli overlooking the Bosphorus.
With their attempt to synergize different cultures of Turkey and India, they offer as comforting as tasty food, and it’s no wonder that they are accepted as one of the best Indian restaurants in Istanbul. Not to mention, the architecture adds to the understanding between these two countries that once had their own stops on the Silk Route.
This isn’t one of those places pretending to be legit. The chief cook is Vinod Kumar Chauhan, who brings his own Garam Masala recipe to a country that prides itself on its Spice Bazaars. The two branches carry the same dishes, but the menu is slightly altered as per the location. While the Bosphorous restaurant is sleeker and more modern, the Sultanahmet has a dreamy, romantic vibe.
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Address: Alemdar, İncili Çavuş Sk. No:10, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul
9. Çok Çok Thai, Thai
Translating to “Very, very Thai,” this place is very, very delicious. Named for the variety of flavors in Thai food, this restaurant is inspired by the connection between the two countries via the Silk Route. Utilizing fresh spices and herbs, each dish at Çok Çok Thai will warm your soul and have you grinning as though you hail from The Land of the Smile.
Thai lovers beware; the gastronomical delights will stun your tastebuds to the extent that you may never want to eat Thai at another place again. Despite it being on the pricier side, we wouldn’t be shocked if you order everything off the menu or, at least, more than you can eat.
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Address: Asmalı Mescit, Meşrutiyet Cd. No:51/A, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
10. Le Fumoir, French
Located in Çırağan Palace Kempinski hotel, this upmarket French restaurant has unbelievable views. A cocktail or two will help you relax before your main meal; this is the spot for a pampering night out.
Though they embrace the local culture, there is something transformative about strolling through the lush green gardens to get to this spot. Every month, they have their own specialties, so ensure you visit often to escape the stresses of your daily life fully.
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Address: Yıldız, Çırağan Cd. No:32, 34349 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
11. Ranchero, Mexican
Talk about Mexicali Voodoo! It would be difficult to glance at the menu without drooling. You may even be surprised as to how authentically Mexican this place is. The supreme taste is made even better by the generous portions. Moreover, the unrelenting dedication to making vegetarian options and healthier versions will have this place marked out as a favorite.
The inviting décor makes this place a great spot to unwind after shopping at the local stores. You may even need a margarita to celebrate that cute red dress you snagged from the local shops.
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Address: Harbiye Mah. Maçka Caddesi Milli Reasürans Çarşısı No:35/A, 34367 Şişli
12. Quetal Tapas & Sangria, Spanish
It is said that Salvador Dali’s infamous ‘The Persistence of Memory’ painting came to him whilst he was contemplating Camembert cheese. Perhaps that may be the reason why the surrealist painter’s portrait is hung in this Tapas bar that may as well have been located on Las Palmas. If their cheese plate doesn’t inspire you the way it did for Dali, then perhaps one of the other artsy dishes will. Dali famously associated food with beauty and ¿Qué tal? ( Quetal Tapas & Sangria) has found a way to combine both elements.
Not surprisingly, this is a favorite for artistic types, so don’t be shocked if you’re sat next to a director or a film star.
Address: Şahkulu, İlk Belediye Cd. 5/A, 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
13. Chalet, Swiss
On a warm summer night, you can feel the caresses of the breeze in the garden. On a cold winter’s day, however, you can snuggle up to the fire. Decorated just like a Swiss chalet, you may feel like you’ve stepped out of Istanbul for a short while.
The Swiss may be famous for being neutral, but there’s nothing neutral about the food served here. Bursting with flavor, it isn’t the only highlight. Known for hosting events, including but not limited to live music, this is the kind of place that’s so welcoming that it’s nothing short of a masterclass for those wishing to work in hospitality.
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Address: Vişnezade Mh, Acısu Sokaği No:19, 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul
14. Ayaspaşa Rus Lokantası, Russian
Born in 1943, this restaurant has had plenty of time to perfect its menu, and it shows. Favored by Russian tourists, the authentic taste of Russia is uncovered through one of three menus: Turkish, English, or Russian.
Each colorful dish is so filling that you’ll leave completely satisfied. If you’re not sure what to pair with what, the helpful staff is happy to help.
With a decoration fit for a Tsar, this may be the only real spot for that authentic Russian taste. When the piano offers live music, you may begin to believe you’ve stepped into Russia before the October Revolution.
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Address: Gümüşsuyu, İnönü Cd. Ankara Palas Apt. D:59/A, 34437 Beyoğlu/İstanbul
Above international restaurants, Istanbul hosts, are a feast for the senses and perfect for those who love to experience new cultures. If you’re looking for ethnic food options while visiting Istanbul, our favorite international cuisine restaurants above will surely please your palate! We hope this list has helped you find a place to get a taste of home away from home when traveling abroad.
After tasting some international food, if you still crave traditional Turkish cuisine, join one of our fantastic food tours that will take your taste buds on an adventure through centuries-old traditions and Turkish street foods. Book your tour online here.
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