Dotted around the bays and islands of Göcek Bay are a number of family-owned restaurants which flourish during the tourist season. What makes the Yat Muğla Restaurant in Boynuzbükü special is that despite the area being a yachtsman's paradise, you don't have to be on a boat to reach it. Set in the shade of a protected forest of aromatic Oriental Sweetgum (Liquidambar orientalis), and caught between two natural spring water streams, the restaurant is an idyllic place to while away a long lunch of fresh fish, salads, kebaps and köfte. Run by Ali Döndar's family in the summer (they keep sheep and fish in the winter), all the generations get involved in making the area a welcoming and relaxing place to stay. I defy your mouth not to water at the smell of home-made flat bread being cooked.
Boynuzbükü, Muğla Province
+90(0)542 634 09 75
By boat: Skopea Limani (Göcek Bay) 36°42.7′N, 28°54.4′E
By car: the bay is at the end of a gravel road from the Tersakan turning off the Dalaman -Fethiye highway.
Gozleme is a mouthwatering cross between a pancake and a flat bread usually cooked for you while you sit cross legged on cushions in a mock Bedouin tent by traditionally dressed Turkish ladies. They are delicious and can be both savoury and sweet. The savoury usually being a mix of minced lamb, potato, white cheese, parsley and chilli and the sweet being either honey or chocolate with nuts. These little places usually don't look much but to pass by would be a denial of a little piece of heaven. The ladies skilfully roll out the dough, add a filling then cook the delightful Gozleme on a heated dome which resembles an upturned wok, all the time basting it with butter until its cooked to perfection and cost a mere handful of lira.
Various locations around towns and alongside roads
In the words of the bad guy from the movie The Rock, “I sh#t you not,” this is the best meal out I have ever had in my life. With a morning dash up Needle Mountain, the ominous peak which bisects the intimidating Commando training base and idyllic fishing town Egidir, under my belt, Rose and I strolled along the man-made causeway which connects the main town to the tiny outcrop which is home to a few Pensyions and restaurants. It was a hot day and we stopped for a quick swim to cool off, only the sound of a few truants playing nearby for company. After drying off we meandered past a couple of empty restaurants and came upon one that although not full was showing signs of having recently been enjoyed by many; busy smiling staff, messy tables (unheard of in Turkey) and the smell of many flavours still in the air. Expecting to be told we were too late for lunch we politely enquired, “of course we do food sit down” was the clear message. We were seated under a lemon tree right by the lakeside, the only boat in view was a small rower with two old men smoking and talking under the guise of fishing. We each ordered a different fish, with other options of course being tavuk (chicken) and the staple Kofte. Our perfectly cooked, freshly caught fish was presented in a proud manner which suggested the waiters were used to happy customers. They didn't disappoint and were perfectly accompanied by a delightfully light and zingy parsley salad. We ate contentedly but not too quickly, happily savouring the taste, the atmosphere and the view, all working together in perfect harmony. It was one of those meals where you wouldn’t change a thing, topped off with a bill of about six quid. Teşekkür ederim. And we shall see you again.
3rd Restaurant as you enter the island on the South side.
Google map: bit.ly/GAyE8b
A wonderful blog giving you an insiders guide to everything you need to know. From simple workers cafes to specialist restaurants. We did the guided walking tour even though we had been to Istanbul many times and learnt more than any guide book can offer. It's a wonderful cultural event and you get a real feel for Istanbul , it's people and especially it's food! The guided walk may seem pricy, but proved to be worth every penny.
Most people will argue that, while in Turkey, you should eat kebabs in all their different incarnations (İskender, döner, şiş, etc) or the pide, or baklava or any of the other amazing foods that Turkey has to offer.
However, if you truly want to get to the heart of Turkey’s crowning glory, Istanbul, there is no better nor faster way than the midye.
Midye, the little stuffed mussels with rice and lemon juice, are ubiquitous in most Turkish cities. But to walk across the Galata Bridge, eating midye, watching the sunrise, is another experience in itself. The rice in the overstuffed morsel, absorbs the saltiness of the sea and the sourness of the lemon, producing a combination much like Istanbul itself, that in the overcrowding of 11 million people and four empires, you can find peace in the calm waters of the Bosphorus, highlighted by the sharpness of the sun.
On this bridge, at this time, with this food, you can feel the overwhelming sense of beauty of the Queen of Cities.
Sold everywhere near the Bosphorus and the Galata Bridge.
Google map: bit.ly/GACD81
Quite simply the most beautiful breakfast in Istanbul with the most stunning view.
House Cafe is a modern stylish eating establishment sitting on the banks of the Bosphorous serving a wonderful East meets West selection of fare for a reasonable price (much better than the surrounding hotels). I recommend their scrabbled egg on rye bread followed with a gorgeously presented fresh virgin apple mojito.
You can sit in the shade on decking looking out at the water or inside if its just too hot. At night the place becomes a nightclub/bar which is much friendlier than their neighbours.
Salhane Sokak No: 1 Ortaköy İstanbul
+90(0)212 227 2699-39
Beg, borrow or steal a boat somewhere between Bodrum and Marmaris, because that's the only way you can get to the fabulous wild bay of Bosuk Buku and the ancient ruins of Loryma. You'll know you've arrived when the skipper gently nudges the boat through the narrowest of entrances, beneath the ancient battlements running along the spine of the boulder-strewn headland.
There are no houses or hotels in the bay, but a couple of enterprising local families from nearby villages have set up restaurants. They get their power from antediluvian generators and bring water in by boat every day. The best of these is the eccentric Sailors House in the north western corner. Serving the best mezzes in the whole of Turkey (well, at least the best we found in the four years we lived around the southern coast) Ali, with his son Mustapha, go to great lengths to make your stay memorable. Sublime food, excellent hospitality and ad hoc entertainment combine to make every visit unique.
Nr Bozukkale, Bosuk Buku, Muğla, Turkey
Lon: 028° 01 5 E
Lat: 36° 34 0 N
The Captain's Place is a village taverna overlooking the marina in the pretty village of Datca serving delicious local fish courses (£8-10) and meze (£4-5) to holidaymaking families, locals and international tourists. Grab a table outside to enjoy dinner from its elevated dining area overlooking the harbour and the spectacular sunsets. Chicken with walnuts, sea bass (levrek) and raki (Turkish aniseed liqour) are highly recommended. You can add your opinion to the other thousands of positive ones on the tables and walls! If you want to get away from Brit dominated Marmaris, it's a beautiful one hour drive or bus ride on a winding road with jaw dropping Aegean views.
Yat LimanI, Datca, Turkey
+90 252 712 3375
Beautiful Fethiye is set in a spectacular bay, on the edge of the Lycian coast. With the wild snow-capped Taurus mountains as a backdrop it is one of the dreamiest places to spend the winter. On the harbour, just in front of the ancient theatre by the marina, is Fethiye's best local restaurant. Unlike the fish market and other harbour-side restaurants frequented by Fethiye's summer tourists, Ocakbaşı Iskele stays open all year round. The local community – and holiday makers who want authentic Turkish dishes made from local produce – come here for its tasty meat dishes and the morning's catch. You can sit outside in the summer and watch turtles swimming in the harbour, or go inside where the chef will cook tender şiş kebaps in front of you.
Cheaper than the average over-priced restaurants in most Turkish sea resorts, the best mezzes in town begin at 4TL for the unmissable aubergine salad. Wines are not cheap (but then they are not cheap anywhere in Turkey) and at 7TL for a glass it is better value to go for a bottle. Beer is 5TL.
In the winter they close the floor to ceiling windows and light the log fire, creating a simply perfect atmosphere to while away the cold, dark evenings over coffee and whatever else tickles your fancy. We spent many happy hours here during our stay from October to April lingering over a rakı or two.
Corner of Fevzi Cakmak Cad,
(By the marina, overlooking the harbour)
(Nr Telmessos Ancient Theatre)
+90 (252) 614 94 23
There are plenty of restaurants in the old town of Bodrum, most of which close in the dead of winter. Not so the family run Sünger Pizza café. Literally translated as "sponge diver" this busy, informal restaurant makes perfect thin-crust pizzas, but is more famous with the locals for its seafood.
Up on the roof in the summer is for tourists, where the fast and efficient waiters are quick to deliver your meal. The fish soup is to die for and the köfte (Turkish meat balls) is the best in Bodrum. Downstairs you'll rub shoulders with the local cognoscenti at any time of the year. Squashed together among the tables of the two dining rooms, or outside on the pavement on the shared benches, have a few glasses of rakı and you could end up talking about the state of the mausoleum (one of the ancient seven wonders) with local archaeologists, or swapping Mark Twain quotes with the resident sail maker. Ex pats from all over the world live in the marina opposite and use the restaurant as their dining room, so there's always a fishy tale to be told. It's open every day of the year and is rammed to the rafters with atmosphere.
Unspoilt Gümüşlük, stubbornly refusing to allow any concrete tourist developments within its tiny bay, is the prettiest fishing village on the Bodrum peninsular. And just a short walk away, hidden along the road towards Yalıkavak, is Limon Café, the region's most picturesque restaurant. From the road you walk through an unprepossessing series of shacks, past the art shop and kitchen through to the outside bar and terraced garden. Under the sky an assortment of wooden tables, chairs and sofas sit higgledy-piggledy, lit with candles or low lights, and decorated with home-made ceramics. Oversized cushions artfully tumble down the hill, inviting you to lounge and admire the view across the ruins of ancient Myndos. The food, often flavoured with lemons, is predictably fresh, scrumptious and authentic. Try the home-made lemonade or lemon cocktails before you eat. It is all made just that bit more magical by the nightly spectacular sunsets over the Aegean.
Balik ekmek (fish bread). A large fried fish sandwich with salad, pickled chillies and lemon juice all washed down with a glass of Ayran (refreshing salted yoghurt drink) while you soak up the sun and the view of the bay or the natural aquariam in the river and watch the world go by. About £4 for two. Perfect.
Beautiful Fethiye, on the edge of the Lycian coast, is a spectacular bay. With the wild snow-capped Taurus mountains as a backdrop it is one of the dreamiest places to spend the winter. On the harbour, just in front of the ancient theatre by the marina, is Fethiye's best local restaurant. Unlike the fish market and other harbour-side restaurants frequented by Fethiye's summer tourists, Ocakbaşı Iskele stays open all year round. The local community – and holiday makers who want authentic Turkish dishes made from local produce – come here for its tasty meat dishes and that morning's catch. You can sit outside in the summer and watch the turtles swimming in the harbour, or go inside where they'll cook flavoured şiş kebaps in front of you while you wolf down the best mezzes in town.
Prices are better than the average over-priced restaurants in most Turkish sea resort towns, with starters from 4TL for the unmissable aubergine mezze. Wines are not cheap (but then they are not cheap anywhere in Turkey) and at 7TL for a glass it is better value to go for a bottle. Beer is 5TL.
In the winter they close up the floor to ceiling windows in the front and light the log fire, creating a simply perfect atmosphere to while away the cold, dark evenings over coffee and whatever else tickles your fancy. We spent many happy hours here during our stay from October to April lingering over mezzes and rakı.
Corner of Fevzi Cakmak Cad,
(By the marina, overlooking the harbour)
(Nr Telmessos Ancient Theatre)
The Law Garden is a popular place for Amdavadis to picnic and hang out. It's a clean and neat park, and for tourists a perfect place to sit and people-watch.
But what makes the area special is the night market. It starts to set up along the Netaji Rd in the afternoon, and gathers momentum until at about 7.30 when the little stalls are all full to bursting with clothes, bags, baubles, textiles and knick knacks from the far flung areas of Gujarat. Gorgeously embroidered Ribari mirrored-wear, some of it quite old, and most of it genuine, reflects and sparkles from the street lights and camera flashes. We bargained with the best of them, and I giggled with visiting Indian women as we haggled over colourful kurtas and backless cholas.
This is also one of the best places in Ahmedabad for street food, just what you'll need after all that spending. We had fresh pulav, kadai and lassis in "Ajay Intercontinental", all for just over a quid each.
Law Garden, Netaji Rd, Ahmedabad
Google map: bit.ly/z3QIiK
I cannot recommend one place only to enjoy the best cuisine that Turkey has to offer, solely because there are thousands of wonderful places to eat all over the country. I can however recommend that you head to any restaurant/cafe/street stall with the suffix "ci". Kofteci, cigerci, pideci ...
These are the places that specialise in one type of food, meatballs, liver, turkish pizza etc. They know their food, source locally and will serve you their dishes with great pride.
Every city, town and village in Turkey
For all the ageing hippies who headed east in search of enlightenment The Pudding Shop in Istanbul is still there, still acting as a meeting point and still serving good food at a reasonable price. Opened in 1957 the restaurant became a place to stop off for travellers in the 1960s who were heading out towards the cultural nirvana of India and Nepal. In a pre-electronic age its bulletin board acted as a communication hub passing on messages offering and asking for lifts. Today it is a self-service café offering decent Turkish food in Sultanahmet close by the Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia and the Grand Bazaar. Don’t go for a gourmet experience. Go for a nostalgic experience. Remember the days when travelling meant hitch hiking, VW vans and Citroen 2CVs not easyJet and Ryanair.
The name of the food is La Majune - i dont think its spelt like that but the food is amazing - there are so many of these take away and eat in places where its advertised clearly in front that they make and sell La Majunes. These are large circular flatbreads which are smothered in a lamb sauce ( not spicy at all ) and lettuce tomatoes and cucumber are added along with their fantastic houmous - you then roll it up and enjoy. It's a lovely filler as a light lunch to get you going on your shopping spree as the eastern side of Istanbul is bargain central!
If you are staying on the western side of Istanbul and fancy something more authentic - then catch a boat marked USKADAR at the port of the sea of Marmara and it will take you straight over.
Google map: bit.ly/GT1tAS
There are a few other nice bars and restaurants nearby but CDLC is by far the best choice. This place serves as a cool, swanky and fashionable eaterie by day and a trendy bar/club by night. Decked out in a fusion of Oriental and Mediterranean decor and ornaments, it's hard not to be drawn in. It's a great place to go for lunch after a stroll/swim at the beach. During the day we took in the glorious sunshine and relaxed on the huge outdoor loungers - the size of a double bed - at the front of the restaurant. It's very much a casual yet chic dining experience. The food was great and elegantly presented. I'd recommend the rice dishes or club sandwiches if it's a light bite you're after. It's a bit pricey but you're paying not only for the food but also the ambience and experience. We came back here later on at night. The atmosphere was completely different, but in a good way. By night CDLC is transformed into a slick, sophisticated and enchanting club where you can reserve individual indoor lounges which are partitioned by long white drapes - it has an almost mystic Middle Eastern feel. Opposite the lounge area is the bar which served a wide range of cocktails. Further back is the dance floor - music policy ranged from chart/dance/electronica/hiphop, so something for all preferences.
Istanbul's skyline is magical at night and one of the best places to enjoy it is from the restaurant on the rooftop of the Adamar Hotel in Sultanahmet. Just a stone's throw from the Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia, the rooftop terrace has a 360 degree panoramic view, great food and a romantic atmosphere. The Bosphorus Bridge twinkles with ever-changing colours, the commercial district sparkles with modern skyscrapers, and the mosques and minarets glow with golden light. High above the rooftops, the sounds of the muezzins' evening calls to prayer echo and collide in the night sky around you.
And If the weather is less than kind, there is an indoor restaurant on the floor below with equally good views.
The Chef’s House is the first restaurant of its kind in Canada. It’s run by the famous George Brown College Chef School, with students training to cook, bake and serve the public in an open-concept kitchen. Housed in a 3,200 square foot heritage building, the 70-seat space offers daily lunch and dinner menus, food and wine workshops, as well as special food events.
Everything in the restaurant is made from scratch, including breads, salad dressings,
condiments, and ice cream. The menu changes every few weeks, all while taking advantage of local produce and the best available seasonal ingredients. The restaurant promotes local, sustainable food and is an advocate for the Slow Food Movement.
215 King Street East, Toronto, Canada
+1 416 415 2260
Google map: bit.ly/zI4cV8
* Giulia is our Been there local for Toronto. You can see her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/places/canada/toronto/index.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/GiuliaFalsetti
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