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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. Ayşa Boşnak Börekçisi

    $

    Fresh, delicious food at reasonable prices in atmospheric surroundings—this is a real find tucked away inside a peaceful stone-walled courtyard amidst the chaotic energy of...Read More

  • 4. Dallas Balik Ekmek Lokantasi

    $

    The more blue-collar or on-the-go way to eat fish in Turkey is the balik ekmek, a salty grilled fish sandwich often stuffed with onion, tomato,...Read More

  • 5. Dükkan

    $$

    This small and colorful eatery serving Greek and Turkish fare is an increasingly rare find in ever more chic Bodrum. Choose from meze like smoked...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Tarihi Yunuslar Karadeniz Unlu Mamüller

    $

    This popular bakery on Bodrum's main pedestrian shopping street is know for classic puddings, cheesecakes, pastries, and luxurious fruit-and-cream parfaits. There's also an outlet on...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. 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

  • 11. Hanimeli Restaurant

    $

    This home-style restaurant just off the main street in downtown Çeşme may look a little bland from the front. But there's a lush, inviting garden...Read More

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