The Central and Southern Aegean Coast Restaurants

Dining out along the Aegean coast is a pleasure, especially if you enjoy seafood and fresh produce. There are countless seafood restaurants at all price ranges. A typical meal includes an assortment of hot and cold meze (appetizers), a mixed salad, and the catch of the day, capped off with a Turkish dessert. To make it authentic, accompany your meal with rak? (a spirit similar in taste to oúzo). Some of the more common fish you'll find along the Aegean coast are levrek (sea bass), çipura (sea bream), barbunya (red mullet), and lahos (grouper), as well as tasty smaller fish like sardalya (sardines). Note that most fish restaurants charge per kilogram for whole fish, and the prices often aren't listed; ask before ordering to avoid receiving an unexpectedly large bill at the end of an otherwise pleasant meal. Of course, there are plenty of meat and kebab restaurants around, too, if that’s what you’re craving.

For dessert, try local dondurma (Turkish ice cream, often thickened with orchid root or mastic resin), as well as milk puddings and baklava. It’s often better to avoid hotel restaurants at lunch and dinner—you can frequently find better and less expensive food a short walk away—but luxury and boutique hotels might be an exception as they are often firm favorites on the local restaurant scene. And don’t forget street snacks! In season, you can grab fat local Smyrna figs; a cup of icy, dark berry ?erbet (think of it as Ottoman Gatorade); or a sesame-studded feta-and-tomato sandwich, each for less than a dollar in central ?zmir. Simit, the classic Turkish bagel-like street snack, is called gevrek in the ?zmir region, and often purchased along with a piece of tulum peyniri (goat's milk cheese) and a hard-boiled egg, following an old Sephardic culinary custom.

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  • 1. Aquarium

    $$$

    At this waterfront restaurant, you should begin your meal with a selection of meze, like stuffed zucchini flowers, roasted eggplant with tulum cheese, and octopus...Read More

  • 2. Gümüşcafé Fish Restaurant

    $$$

    This lovely restaurant on the waterfront specializes not only in fresh fish, seafood, and meze but also serves an excellent summer brunch. Tables are only...Read More

  • 3. Agora Restaurant

    $$

    This large Turkish restaurant near the Ephesus Museum has an equally large menu, focusing on grilled meats, but also including pide, meze, salads, breakfast, and...Read More

  • 4. Alsancak Dostlar Fırını

    $

    This very popular bakery in hip Alsancak serves up probably the broadest selection you’ll find of boyoz, a round flaky pastry with Sephardic roots that’s...Read More

  • 5. Asma Yaprağı

    $$

    This small and romantic garden restaurant is a highlight of Alaçatı’s dining scene, with chef Ayşe Nur Mıhçı famed for her fresh renditions of Aegean...Read More

  • 6. Asmaaltı Cafe

    $

    This charming outdoor café and restaurant is just a five-minute walk from the Priene ruins and features a shaded, leafy atmosphere with gazebos and picnic...Read More

  • 7. Avrasya Lokantası

    $$

    Hearty traditional Turkish soups, stews, and meat and vegetable dishes are arrayed buffet-style at this cheery lokanta, which is always bustling at lunchtime. At the...Read More

  • 8. Cafe La Cigale

    $$$

    Hidden away on a side street off busy Cumhuriyet Bulvarı, this peaceful garden oasis attached to the French Cultural Center offers a range of well-prepared...Read More

  • 9. Çardaklı Restaurant

    $$$

    Bedecked with blossoms, this waterfront restaurant has a classic Aegean air and wide selection of meze, including stuffed zucchini flowers and yogurt with hot red...Read More

  • 10. Dost Pide & Pizza

    $$

    Stopping here for pide (Turkish-style pizza or calzones, piled with a variety of ingredients that can include cheese, spinach, meat, or egg) is a highlight...Read More

  • 11. Fatma Bacının Yeri

    $

    Simple, hearty dishes are what’s on offer at this casual restaurant in the middle of Turgutreis’s bazaar. Choose from traditional Turkish favorites or get an...Read More

  • 12. Hoca'nın Yeri

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    The specialty of the house at this simple eatery on the boardwalk in Türkbükü is large, rather greasy portions of çiğ böreği, a Crimean dish...Read More

  • 13. Körfez

    $$$

    This long-standing, family-run fish house overlooks the harbor and is especially noted for a wide selection of Cretan dishes and seafood appetizers that include delectable...Read More

  • 14. Kumrucu Şevki

    $

    Ilıca is known for kumru—Turkish-style panini prepared with special sesame-seed rolls and stuffed with salami, sucuk (beef spicy sausage), cheese, tomatoes, and pickles—and this place...Read More

  • 15. Limon Cafe

    $$$

    Settle into a lovely, fig-scented garden about 2 km (1 mile) outside town, overlooking citrus trees, the sea, and the ancient city of Myndos and...Read More

  • 16. Marvista Restaurant

    $$

    This cheery, casual bistro-style restaurant on the ground floor of the Hotel Ilayda is popular with visitors for its broad international menu, ranging from pasta...Read More

  • 17. Mavi Park Restaurant

    $$$

    This waterfront spot in pleasant Şevket Sabancı Park, just outside Turgutreis city center, has grand views of the sea along with a nice selection of...Read More

  • 18. Miam

    $$$$

    Wonderfully prepared seafood is served with polish at this pleasant spot, as are the meat and pasta dishes. After midnight, there are often DJs at...Read More

  • 19. Musto

    $$$

    This always-hopping waterfront bistro draws a local and tourist crowd with its broad Turkish-international menu of pastas, salads, bar snacks, and grilled meats. Some good...Read More

  • 20. Reyhan Patisserie

    $

    With a huge variety of baked goods and desserts, excellent house-made ice cream and chocolates, this pastry shop has been popular for decades. This branch...Read More

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