Shredded filo pastry drenched in a sweet sugar syrup with a touch of a unique unsalted cheese. Sprinkle some pistachios, nuts, creams, ice-creams – whatever your heart desires.
This Middle Eastern dessert made a showstopping appearance in the notorious One Thousand and One Nights. The North Africans and Arabs have their versions, but the Turkish version of künefe is no less iconic. Particularly when considering a giant version – weighing approximately 1550kg and 78 meters long– was made in Hatay, Turkey, for an event held to commemorate the 78th year the southern border province of Hatay, the dessert’s homeland, joined Turkey.
In Turkey, this cheese-filled dessert is a time-honored tradition from the Hatay region (Southwest Turkey. Close to the Syrian border). If you’re looking for the ultimate künefe experience in Istanbul, look no further than the ten options below.
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1. Lezzet-i Şark Antep Sofrası
This restaurant is ideal for those that want the taste delicious künefe and kebabs without sacrificing their bank account. Four-story, the kid-friendly restaurant hosts picturesque dishes and kebabs on Ottoman-style plates. Had enough with kebabs already? Try their spicy but tasty Beyran or Kelle paça soups. However, don’t let the delicious soups and kebabs fool you; some pop in only to taste their famous künefe.
The künefe isn’t too sweet (thanks to the light sugar syrup), so it won’t burn your throat on the way down. Located near the Egyptian Bazaar, this unmissable spot is one of those unexpected places that’ll thrill you so much that you might end up popping back in again and again and again.
Address: Rüstem Paşa, Hasırcılar Cd. No:38, Fatih/Istanbul
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2. Keyfeder Künefe Katmer
The authentic vibe created by the interior complements the cobblestone passageway it’s located on. This is a restaurant that specializes in künefes, and they have 14 different künefe options on their menu!
Even if complimentary goat milk, fruits, and tea weren’t offered, the reasonable prices and the excellent künefes would make you smile. Moreover, even complimentary tea is highly recommended. With friendly staff, this boutique künefe eatery isn’t something that should be stumbled upon but hunted for. Open until 2 am, you have plenty of time to pop in.
Address: Katip Mustafa Çelebi, 12, Çukurlu Çeşme Sk., Beyoğlu/Istanbul
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3. Hatay Asi Künefeleri
Decorated like the interior of an Ottoman palace, this place will transport you to a different epoch. They utilize plates and cups that have that traditional Ebru design. With so many different varieties of the types of dessert that resemble the künefe, you may lose yourself to the taste. This spot is not just surreal, but it has that dream-like quality that must be seen to be believed. The special unsalted künefe cheese is sourced from its homeland: Hatay.
Despite having just five branches across Turkey, Hatay Asi Künefeleri is one of the country’s biggest künefe producers, and their products can be found in some supermarkets.
Address: Tahtakale mah. Hasırcılar cad. No:27 Eminönü, Fatih/Istanbul
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4. Hafiz Mustafa
Turkey was established as a republic in 1923, and this eatery was established in 1864. If that isn’t enough to inform you about the expertise of their chefs, then the taste will.
Their menu is like a bit of novella filled with images of desserts that’ll have you struggling to pick just one. If you can’t choose, they do offer gift boxes as a perfect souvenir or a present. However, if you do decide to eat in, the desserts will be served on charming plates.
Hafiz Mustafa has several branches in the touristy suburbs of Istanbul; it’s hard to miss. Combined with the views and the colorful displays of dessert, this is an Instagram-worthy spot.
Address: Hoca Paşa, Muradiye Cd. No:51, Fatih/Istanbul
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5. Ekol Hatay Künefe
It’s all in the name – which may as well be an international brand by now. With the limited choices on the menu, you won’t be surprised that this künefe restaurant knows exactly what it’s doing when it comes to the künefe. It’s not just the desserts they take seriously: every inch of the restaurant is sparkles. The touch of tradition and the elegant minimalistic design says it all: their food is enough to blow you away.
Ekol Hatay Künefe in Levent should be on your list if you’re seriously searching for the perfect künefe in Istanbul.
Address: Huzur Mh., Fatih Cd. 83/B, 4. Levent/Sarıyer/Istanbul
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6. Tatlıcı Safa
If you don’t marvel at the marble walls, perhaps the wall of shiny desserts will take your breath away. Founded by two brothers who wished to bring the gastronomical wonders of Gaziantep to Istanbul, the creativity of the astonishing menu will seduce all your senses. Focussed only on Turkish desserts, they offer gift boxes if you make friends with a local.
At this dessert shop, Künefe is not on the front display, but if you can close your eyes to all the other tempting desserts and order a künefe, it will undoubtedly be one of the finest in Istanbul.
Address: Hobyar, Hamidiye Cd. 2/A, Fatih/Istanbul
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7. Hatay Gurme
A little off the usual touristic trail, the sleek, contemporary style will invite you into the local’s world. Although the appetizing images of the menu will tempt you, the dishes offered should be celebrated. Do not forget to bring a local friend here; the menu is only in Turkish. Combining a touch of creativity with the traditional Turkish foods that most restaurants ignore, this is the place to be to get a real taste of Turkey.
They not only serve one of the best künefe in Istanbul but also one of the best restaurants in Istanbul serving Hatay cuisine.
If you’re saving your calories for the delight that is künefe, the salads will tempt your tastebuds. Moreover, you can purchase natural delights such as molasses, olive oils, jams, and so forth as a souvenir.
Address: Küçükbakkalköy Mah. Kayışdağı Cad Metal İş Mrk, D:No:37/A-B, Ataşehir/Istanbul
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8. Haskral Hatay Sofrası
Enter a pauper and leave a king. If you were ever curious about how it feels to be a sultan, padishah, or ağa, don’t leave Istanbul without visiting here. However, don’t go alone: the portions will be too much to manage. Although the multi-lingual menu does have English and Arabic, it also contains images of the food if you’re not fluent.
Haskral Hatay Sofrası is genuinely a fantastic kebab restaurant where you can enjoy a delectable and authentic künefe.
Address: İskender Paşa Mahallesi, Sofular Caddesi, Ragıp Bey Sk. 25-27/A, Fatih/Istanbul
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9. Şefikoğulları Künefe
Someone here must hold a doctorate in satisfying your sweet tooth because they have four different types of künefe here. Moreover, the generous dessert spot will happily provide you with complimentary fruit and nuts. Although the décor seems to suggest that this is a nice spot for a date, the tables are populated with friendship groups of all ages, genders, and cultures.
If you decide to visit Şefikoğulları Künefe, do not forget to taste the famous büryan kebab in nearby restaurants located in Kadınlar Pazarı.
Address: Zeyrek, İtfayiceler Caddesi, Tezgahçılar Sk. 3/A, Fatih/Istanbul
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10. Kaşıbeyaz Bosphorus
A little different than the places listed above, Kaşıbeyaz Bosphorus is a fine dining restaurant with fantastic Bosphorus views and, of course, a great künefe. There’s something Cinderella-esque about the extraordinary views here; this is the spot for a proposal.
Although the menu has the same options as your average kebab shop, the taste is as upmarket as the elegant white décor. It’s no wonder that this spot attracts celebrities and tourists alike. A little on the pricey side, you’ll be paying for the incredible talent in the kitchen as well as the views.
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If you’re in the mood for a scrumptious dessert, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite künefe restaurants in Istanbul. We know that no trip to Turkey is complete without sampling this cheese-filled, sugar syrup-drenched tasty treat, and we want to show you some of the best places on offer!
Get out there with us on one of our food tours so your appetite can be satisfied by more than just sightseeing. You’ll have an opportunity to try many different flavors as well as learn about Turkish history, culture, cuisine, and daily life. Join us today for an unforgettable experience at Yummy Istanbul – discovering the best food in Istanbul.
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