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. 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. Garo's

    $$$

    The peripatetic Turkish-Armenian maestro Garo heads the kitchen at this enduringly popular stone cottage–turned–waterfront restaurant in Türkbükü with a comfy Greek-taverna feel, friendly staff, and...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Kalamare

    $$

    Down a quiet, pretty alley just a two-minute stroll from the waterfront, the white, candlelit tables at this seafood restaurant quickly fill with hungry locals....Read More

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Kocadon

    $$$

    The owners have transformed the palm- and mulberry tree--filled courtyard of their 200-year-old family home into a romantic haven, where candlelit peacefulness and exquisite Mediterranean...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Ünal Restaurant

    $$

    There are no views here, but this helps to give this friendly restaurant a less touristy vibe than is usual in Pamukkale. The good menu...Read More

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