Fatih is the heart of Istanbul. This neighborhood is considered an attractive residential area for locals and tourists alike, with its many restaurants, shops, museums, and other attractions within walking distance from hotels in the surrounding areas.
The rich history and culture, stunning architecture, delicious restaurants – it’s no wonder that this neighborhood has been a favorite among locals for decades.
This blog post will list my top 14 favorite restaurants in Fatih, which are worth checking out if you’re looking for authentic local dishes or just want to try something different on your visit to Istanbul.
Before listing the best restaurants in Fatih, let’s look at a food market in Fatih called Kadınlar Pazarı (The Women’s Bazaar). If you are a foodie interested in ethnic bazaars and cuisines, you should visit Kadınlar Pazarı and eat at one of the many great restaurants in this little open-air food market.
Kadınlar Pazarı (The Women’s Bazaar)
In a city that’s renowned for its history and culture, Kadınlar Pazarı is a secret known only to the most experienced travelers. Daring travelers may rejoice in finding a largely undisturbed spot that’s off the beaten path full of Kurdish restaurants, honey shops, spice shops, and butchers. History buffs may lose themselves around Kadınlar Pazarı, exploring the cobble pebbled streets surrounded by 1500-year-old Roman aqueducts.
It was rumored to be named after one of two things: either women slaves were sold here, or it was the only place where women could shop. Entrepreneurial women may have collected fruits, which were unsellable to the rich, from Eminönü to resell to other women here. Perhaps that’s why the tradition of selling dried fruits and nuts at such an affordable price still exists in this market.
Kadınlar Pazarı has dozens of restaurants, and 2 of them are also mentioned on our list of best Fatih restaurants below.
List of best Fatih Restaurants:
1. Asitane Restaurant
Asitane is a sophisticated restaurant dedicated to traditional Ottoman tastes. If you were ever curious as to what the Turks ate for the 623 years before becoming a republic, you’re in good hands. The accommodating menu has English descriptions for every dish. Furthermore, unlike most restaurants, the vegetarian options are mouth-watering adventures. The “Tuffahiye” stuffed apple shouldn’t be missed for people who avoid meat.
Not just for the history buffs, interior design will transport you to another epoch. You can order yourself a wine and lose yourself to your surroundings. However, if you’re uncomfortable feeling like a sultan, then the patio will undoubtedly make you feel like a romantic hero. The tables clothed with a luxurious white are surrounded by such beautiful greenery; we wouldn’t fault you for feeling like you’re the main character in a historical romance novel. If you’re looking for a way to celebrate an anniversary, this is more than just food; Asitane Restaurant is an experience.
2. Balat Sahil Restaurant
The home of the mezes, this seafood restaurant is the kind of place that creates memories. It’s well recommended to visit with a bunch of friends to enjoy the Turkish rakı with the fresh seafood. Despite its minimalistic menu, it does have 1-2 options for those friends who can’t bear seafood.
Named after its location, this ‘sahil’ (seaside) placed restaurant is so close to the sea that you’ll find yourself enveloped with the stunning views and the scents of the Golden Horn. If you’re feeling the blues and need cheering up or if you’re looking for a place to celebrate, you can’t go wrong with this lovely little gem.
3. Saruja Restaurant
Who knew Syrian food could be so delicious? Each dish that’ll be placed on your table will be so aesthetically pleasing that you may have some difficulty with ruining it with your fork. If you don’t have a spare magic carpet, sample any dish here to feel your tastebuds fly. You may find that this is the one restaurant that’ll ruin all other food for you. The English, Arabic, and Turkish descriptions of the food on the menu will have you wishing you brought your loose trousers.
The Fatih branch has a simple design with a hint of Syrian architecture. Saruja can get full quickly, so you will need patience. However, considering the quality, the wait will be worth it. Have a look at their menu here.
4. Cibalikapı Balıkçısı, Haliç
If the astounding view doesn’t steal your breath away, we think the menu definitely will. You’ll find all types of seafood here, even octopus, cooked in such a way that it’ll be hard for you to stay away. Inspired by a sense of tradition, the menu hosts items that have an Ottoman flavor. In other words, you’ll find a taste of Armenian, Georgian, and Greek inspired seafood as well as modern Turkish.
If the elegant style with a post-war Turkish twist isn’t your thing, perhaps the street cats cozying up to you might tempt you.
5. Şeyhmuz Kebap Salonu
The prototype for the kind of Turkish restaurants in other countries, this joint has been standing since 1975. Of all the kebab restaurants that surround Şeyhmuz, you might be tempted to give this one a miss. That would mean, however, that you will miss out on the artisanal, time-honored method of preparing the most succulent dish. Mincing their meat by hand rather than machine, there is nothing about kebabs that the owners don’t know.
Situated in a peaceful passage near Grand Bazaar, Şeyhmuz Kebap Salonu is perfect when you need a bit of a break from the busy streets of Grand Bazaar. If you value food crafted with love or a touch of expertise, drop by.
6. Baran Et Mangal
The home of the carnivores, we’d imagine that this is what heaven would look like for meat-lovers. Located in Women’s Bazaar, Baran Et Mangal is a humble restaurant serving kebabs and steaks that’ll warm up your soul.
If you go to Baran Et Mangal with a large group of friends, you may order your meat and steaks by the kilo. If you stop chewing your tasty meats for a second, you may even get to practice your Turkish and Kurdish listening skills from the nearby tables. Further, if the hospitable small streets don’t make you feel welcome, the prices certainly will.
7. Siirt Şeref Büryan 1892
One of the most popular restaurants in Fatih and Kadınlar Pazarı, Siirt Şeref Büryan specializes in büryan dish which is a whole lamb – pit-roasted slowly over 6-8 hours in a unique traditional oven called a tandır.
The menu is vast and doesn’t miss any dish that is Kurdish. Although the menu translates everything with a concise explanation in English, you might find yourself drooling over the pictures instead. The scrumptious yet generous portions will have you falling in love with the type of dishes you never thought you’d ever try.
8. Akdeniz Hatay Sofrası
We wouldn’t be surprised if the chefs moonlight as food historians because this swanky restaurant will introduce you to all the traditional tastes of the famous & ancient Hatay cuisine of Turkey. Its slogan? “Those who don’t visit Hatay will make a mistake.” They display their favorable reviews with pride, and why shouldn’t they?
The best thing? You don’t need to leave feeling completely stuffed. They donate what’s left on your plate to pets living in shelters. If that doesn’t warm you up on the inside, their food certainly will.
9. Paçacı Mahmut Usta
Paçacı Mahmut is considered one of the best soup restaurants in Istanbul, and the name of this restaurant translates as “trotter soup master Mahmut,” and it should give you the idea of their most popular soup.
If you were ever curious about what life was like as a Turk, this restaurant is for you. You’ll find yourself eating with the locals as this eatery is so authentic that tourists would struggle to find it.
For a reasonable price, you’ll get a serving of the kind of food that a Turkish grandmother would lovingly cook for you. That is before she asks why you’re gaining weight, as if she doesn’t understand that delicious food is impossible to resist!
10. Palukçu Balık Lokantası
If your first love is seafood, you’ll regret missing out on this place. Palukçu Balik Lokantası offers a wide range of fish that are in season. They also serve delectable fish soup. The menu will have you smiling ear to ear at the fish and seafood choices.
Fried fish may be a dime a dozen in Istanbul, but visit this specialist if you want prawns, mussels, or even calamari. The cute décor will have you quoting Moby Dick in no time. “Call me Ishmael,” indeed.
11. Tarihi Odabaşı Çiğbörekçisi
With just one item on the menu (Çiğ börek), you may be forgiven for thinking that this isn’t a place for tourists. If you want something quick, cheap, and easy to fill your tummy while you move onto the next hot spot, this family-owned Çiğ börek shop should be on your to-go list.
The Tatar people of Turkey are known for the Çiğ börek, a variant of the börek dish. The dough is folded over the filling (mince, onions, and spices) and shaped into a semicircle before deep-fried until golden brown. It’s customary to serve çiğ börek with ayran or yogurt on the side.
12. Dönerci Sadık Usta
Can you even call yourself a Turk if you’ve never tried döner at least once? Yet, it’s recommended that you should only eat döner from a trustworthy place. This is the place popular among locals and known for its excellent quality of meat. With its delicious döner kebab options, Dönerci Sadık Usta may be one of the best options for meat lovers looking for a quick bite.
13. Karadeniz Pide Kebab Salonu Vefa
It would be a mistake to walk past this unassuming place. Although it’s easy to miss, if you do visit, you’ll end up salivating at just the memory of the pides (think pizzas). If carbs aren’t your thing, you may want to try the güveç (a boiling hot stew). Don’t forget to bring along a Turk or a dictionary – this place and its menu are so authentically Turkish that you may struggle with communication.
14. Cumbalı Kahve
Istanbul’s old, dilapidated yet beautiful houses and hidden churches and synagogues make Balat a destination for urban explorers. Cumbalı Kahve is one of the newest cafés in this popular neighborhood.
Styled in a colorful rustic manner, this is the place to go if you’re a coffee connoisseur. If you are ever curious about coffee, you can easily ask the knowledgeable staff or read the menu. Quaint location to help escape the world – even for a little while.
Fatih is home to some of the best restaurants in Istanbul. From kebabs and lahmacun to baklava and Turkish coffee – we’ve listed our top restaurants for delicious dishes that are worth a visit in Fatih.
If you’re looking for an insider’s guide to this bustling neighborhood, come on our Flavours of the Old City food tour exploring the backstreets of Fatih.
We’ll show you where to find hidden gems such as traditional sweets shops or hole-in-the-wall eateries serving dishes from different regions across Turkey. Join us on your next trip so you can enjoy all the authentic flavors without breaking a sweat over getting lost trying to navigate these winding streets yourself!