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. Arşipel Restaurant

    $$

    Summer and winter, the dining room at the Kırkınca Houses Boutique Hotel is the best in town, overlooking the lovely landscape and serving delicious and...Read More

  • 3. Ejder Restaurant

    $$

    This popular spot overlooking the Selçuk aqueduct is run by a friendly family team—husband, wife, and son—and offers a menu that includes such traditional vegetarian...Read More

  • 4. Alaçatı Tatlıcısı İmren

    $

    This local favorite is the place to come for dessert; in addition to black forest cake and semolina cake, there's ice cream in many different...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Bitez Dondurma

    $

    Bitez Dondurma's creamy ice-cream concoctions full of fresh fruit have proved so popular that the shop now has branches all over the Bodrum Peninsula, and...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Hoca'nın Yeri

    $

    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

  • 10. Kavaklı Köfteci

    $$

    Köfte (Turkish-style meatballs) are the mainstay of this popular, no-frills eatery, and you can enjoy them as a sandwich or with a side of piyaz...Read More

  • 11. Kayaş Restaurant & Bar

    $$

    This cheery traveler favorite just off Pamukkale’s main square serves up better-than-average grilled meats, güveç (casseroles), and other traditional Turkish dishes (plus international staples like...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. Rumeli Pastanesi

    $

    Since 1945, the Rumeli bakery has been the place in Çeşme for treats like sakızlı dondurma (thick, chewy Turkish-style mastic ice cream) in flavors such...Read More

  • 15. Selçuk Pidecisi

    $

    Blissfully lacking the touts trying to lure tourists into the restaurants around Cengiz Topel Caddesi, this tiny, friendly pide shop is conveniently located near the...Read More

  • 16. Şirincem Restaurant

    $$

    Attached to a pansiyon of the same name near the entrance to town, this casual restaurant offers an assortment of grilled meats and home-cooked dishes...Read More

  • 17. Sünger Pizza

    $$

    Italian-inspired pizzas, pastas, and salads are served alongside traditional Turkish chicken and beef dishes. It's always packed with local families and tourists sitting back at...Read More

  • 18. Yuvam

    $

    On a small side street in Kuşadası's main bazaar area, "My Nest/Home" truly lives up to its name, offering the kind of food you'd find...Read More

  • 19. Begonvil Lezzet Mutfağı

    $

    Tucked away in the Turgutreis market, this tiny restaurant has a few cheery tables in the street and a small chalkboard menu of the day's...Read More

  • 20. Didim Şehir Lokantası

    $$

    The quality and price of the offerings here—primarily grills, pide, and home-style meat and vegetable dishes—make the trip out to this residential neighborhood (sometimes still...Read More

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