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Must-eat places in Istanbul with vegan options too!

"Balik Ekmek!! Balik Ekmek!!", shouts the ferry vendors hoisted near the Eminonu Terminal. The strong smell of sea, mixed with the grilled mackerel and bread is an enticing aroma to remember.

Food has always been a serious business in Istanbul. Every single day, the locals go for their daily jobs, carrying a sesame-crusted simit in one hand or spending a few minutes wiping down that creamy menemen with a piece of bread. The origins of the true Turkish cuisine began in the palace kitchens of the sultans where the most commonly cooked food was grilled lamb. The recipes were expanded with the introduction of meze platter along with various other meats and baked items. If you travel back in history, know that the first order of business for the Ottoman government in the Middle Ages was the provisioning of wheat for the city of Istanbul.

Even after decades, the traditions hold its ground in some of the restaurants. Although tourism has changed the way Turkish restaurants sources and prepares its food, we can still enjoy some of its authenticity if we avoid the touristy restaurants and search the ones in the deep lanes of Istanbul.

A disclaimer before you proceed with our suggestions - We are NO experts when it comes to Istanbul's hidden gems for the foodgasm experience. We have compiled the list based on where we actually ate per Google reviews, Zomato, local Istanbul blogs, etc. We will provide a few food blog sites at the end of our article to help you navigate through more options. :)

Breakfast Joints

Kadirga Café

Where - Şehsuvar Bey, No: Kadırga Limanı Cd. No:64, 34130 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey

Known For - Different types of menemen

Vegan Options - Corba Soup, French Fries, Salad, Vegetarian Kabab, Tea

Cost for two - 30 - 40 TL

Being just 100 m away from my hotel and adjacent to Kadirga Park, this restaurant was my go-to restaurant for breakfast. Tomato and paprika menemen, corba soup, and tea are the highlights for me. The corba soup (lentil soup) was delicious!! Never knew a simple lentil soup could taste so good. ;-) The ambiance is very cozy with rugs spread over the tables and the local news channel tuned in. The only regret I have is not bringing in my laptop to work from here while sipping on my tea in the cold weather.

Bonus - The owner's son is a delight to look at. ;-)