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. Dalyan Restaurant (Cevat'ın Yeri)

    $$$

    This outdoor terrace overlooking the waterfront is an ideal spot in Dalyanköy for a splurgy seafood dinner. After meze of kabak çiçeği dolması (stuffed zucchini...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. 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. 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

  • 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. Balıkçı Hasan

    $$$

    There are many popular seafood restaurants along the Kordon waterfront in Alsancak, but this one, with indoor and outdoor seating areas and a relaxed feel,...Read More

  • 8. Bitez Köftecisi

    $$

    A pleasantly old-fashioned place popular with locals, this cozy, casual restaurant a short walk back from the beachfront offers a range of Turkish-style grilled meats,...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. Gemibaşı

    $$$

    For almost half a century, this popular, no-frills restaurant near the marina has been serving the freshest seafood in town. House specialties include fish soup...Read More

  • 11. Kahvecin

    $

    Popular with a young local crowd, this cute and friendly little café serves up assorted coffee drinks, including flavored ones mixed with Italian syrups, and...Read More

  • 12. Karina

    $$$

    Tables spill out of the small courtyard into the cobblestone alley at this fish and meze restaurant in central Alaçatı. Innovative house specialties include a...Read More

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 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. Mezgit Restaurant

    $$

    Laid-back but still pleasantly lively, this fish restaurant across from the marina has indoor-outdoor dining and less of a touristy vibe than those around the...Read More

  • 18. Minör Restaurant

    $$$

    Popular with the yachting crowd and holidaymakers from Istanbul, this friendly steak house has live music—jazz, Latin, flamenco, Turkish, and pop—just about every night. The...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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