The 14 Best Restaurants in Sultanahmet (Istanbul Old City)

In the city of Istanbul, a tourist hotspot for its visitors is Sultanahmet. Here one can find an extensive list of things to do with plenty to see and explore across this vibrant neighborhood. Besides historical sites that offer a glimpse into the past and best examples of Ottoman architecture, Sultanahmet also appeals to your stomach as much as your eye. The district is home to some fantastic restaurants where you can enjoy mouth-watering dishes from all over Turkey without traveling far!

This is why we’ve compiled a list of the best restaurants in Sultanahmet when it comes time to refuel on all that walking or sightseeing. The following restaurants will help you to recharge your energy while offering a fantastic and authentic feast. We highly recommend visiting at least a few of these restaurants to experience a different and unique part of Turkish and Ottoman cuisines.

Related content: 44 Famous Turkish Foods You Must Try in Istanbul

List of the 14 Best Sultanahmet Restaurants:

1. Balıkçı Sabahattin

Photo: Balıkçı Sabahattin

Finally, a restaurant where the only thing fresher than their seafood is the excitement of visiting this bustling family-run business! All their seafood is sourced daily from local fishermen. Balıkçı Sabahattin is offering delicious seafood in their historic building since 1927. 

Their stuffed mussels, a must-try as a starter and the perfect way to start off your journey through Turkish cuisine.

Aside from their amazing seafood, they offer some of the most delightful meze plates and organic salads.

This amazing restaurant was awarded as the best seafood restaurant by Time Out Istanbul – Miller Awards in 2014. Moreover, it was mentioned in New York Times twice due to its rich and delicious menu.

Related content: 12 Absolute Best Seafood Restaurants in Istanbul

2. Hamdi Restaurant

Photo: Hamdi Restaurant

Hamdi restaurant is a perfect example of entrepreneurial success. Hamdi, the founder, and owner of this establishment migrated from Sanliurfa in Turkey to Istanbul at the end of the 1960s with his mobile grill. His delicious kebabs became popular quickly among locals who frequented him for lunch every day until he managed to buy three floors. Today manages 320 people capacity-of what has become one successful venture after another.

Hamdi Restaurant is the place to go if you want a taste of traditional Turkish kebabs and grills. Not only will it please your palate, but its view and scenic location are spectacular too.

Related content: 20 Turkish Kebabs You Must Taste in Turkey

3. Can Oba

Photo: Can Oba

You can’t go wrong with a visit to Can Oba. This Istanbul restaurant is on the shortlist of best restaurants in town, and for a good reason. From seafood classics like “sea bass with orange sauce” to world classics like “beef stroganoff” and “seafood risotto,”- this place has something for everyone.

In fact, Can Oba is the name of the owner of this great restaurant, and he is a worldly-famous Turkish chef. He served as cuisine chef for 3 years for Alfons Schuhbeck, who has Michelin stars.

The restaurant is small with limited seating, and the decor is nothing special. Still, if you’re looking for a high-end restaurant where the dishes will always be distinctive and exquisite, this should be your stop. You’ll never regret spending any moment in this fantastic establishment.

Related content: Best Bosphorus Restaurants in Istanbul: Top 9 Right Now

Sign up for our newsletter and

Get the Istanbul Food Guide for FREE

By signing up, you agree to the Terms and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Yummy Istanbul about news, events, offers, and promotions.

4. Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta

Photo: Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi

For most of the locals, Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta is one of the best restaurants in Sultanahmet Istanbul. Meatballs have an important place in Turkish cuisine, and this restaurant offers some of the most delicious and finest examples of Turkish meatball varieties. 

This venue is so popular that you may want to make a booking. Otherwise, you may have to wait half an hour on average to find a table. Serving the locals of Istanbul since 1920, this restaurant is a frequent destination for many tourists visiting the city.

Besides meatballs, you can enjoy a delicious bean salad in this restaurant. The semolina halva is impressive too! In addition to a couple of branches in Istanbul, Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi Selim Usta also has restaurants in Azerbaijan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Cyprus.

Related content: The 10 Oldest Restaurants in Istanbul for a Taste of History

5. Matbah Restaurant

Photo: Matbah Restaurant

It would be best if you didn’t miss out on trying Ottoman cuisine during your time in Istanbul. What could be better than tasting the food of an empire that ruled this area you are visiting for centuries? Matbah Restaurant is one of the best places to try it all and get a real taste of history.

This restaurant is one of the last places in Istanbul that offers the least known and hard-to-cook dishes of traditional Ottoman cuisine. Of course, their menu isn’t just limited to this type of cooking. You can also find some of the best examples of Turkish and Anatolian cuisines at this establishment!

The restaurant has been honored with plenty of national and international awards, including the Istanbul Gastronomy Fest 2014 Awards.


Related content: Turkish Drinks: 10 Popular Beverages Turkey Can’t Live Without

6. Hocapaşa Pidecisi

Photo: Hocapaşa Pidecisi

Hocapaşa Pidecisi is one of the great choices for those who want to enjoy a meal like locals do every day. This fantastic restaurant has a simple but welcoming atmosphere and offers a wide range of pide (Turkish pizza) types. 

Pide is one of the most popular meals in Turkey, no matter where you go. Each region has its unique take on it, and this restaurant offers all sorts: Black Sea pide being one of them and is our favorite.

You are going to enjoy the amazing blend of flavors on this delicious flatbread made with fresh ingredients. Turkish pide should be one thing you put at the top of your must-taste list while visiting Istanbul.

Related content: The Best Lahmacun in Istanbul: 6 Outstanding Lahmacun Places

7. Şehzade Cağ Kebap

Photo: Şehzade Cağ Kebap

You may be a seasoned kebab connoisseur, but have you ever heard of cag kebab? This Turkish delicacy originated in Erzurum and is cooked horizontally, being different than traditional doner kebab.

Sehzade Cag Kebab is one of the very few places in Istanbul where you can get a genuinely authentic cag kebap. They use only high-quality meat and prepare it with great care so that guests enjoy every mouthful to its fullest. In this regard, Sehzade Cag Kebab is one of the best restaurants in Sultanahmet, and you need to pay a visit here to enjoy this kebab. 

Besides cag kebab, you can also enjoy homemade Turkish yogurt, desserts, and salads.

Related content: Best Doner Kebab in Istanbul: A Complete Guide w/ Maps

8. Hafız Mustafa 1864

Photo: Hafız Mustafa 1864

Hafiz Mustafa is one of the oldest restaurants serving in Sultanahmet. It was founded in 1864 during the Ottoman Empire period and has been focused on a single category, Turkish desserts, since then.

You’ll find all your favorite Turkish desserts at Hafız Mustafa, like baklava, kadayif, and milky desserts. These freshly made delicacies will appeal to your eye taste as much as they appeal to your stomach.

Hafiz Mustafa is a must-visit for anyone on their travels to Istanbul. The main branch of the café is located in Sultanahmet, but it has many branches all around town, and we recommend visiting one that’s close to your hotel.

If you talk with the staff, they can also prepare Âfet-i Devrân (translates as the “beauty of the century”), which is baklava served with water buffalo clotted cream and Turkish goats-milk ice cream. Just wow and start eating it!

Related content: The Best Baklava in Istanbul: TOP 11 Baklava Shops

9. Güvenç Konyalı

Photo: Güvenç Konyalı

Konya is the largest city in Turkey, and it was one of the culinary capitals of the Ottoman Empire. The cuisine of Konya has influenced Turkish food significantly because of its diverse flavors and spices that are used to make dishes.

One of the signature dishes in Konya is etliekmek (similar to pide but a very thin crust), and Güvenç Konyalı offers one to be reckoned with–one of the best etliekmek you’ll find in Istanbul.

In addition to their delicious etliekmek, Güvenç Konyalı also serve traditional Turkish soups, kebabs, and salads.

This restaurant is the youngest one on this list of best restaurants in Sultanahmet, which was founded in 2011. However, they managed to rank among the most popular thanks to their delicious taste of Konya cuisine.

Related content: The Best Breakfast in Istanbul: 10 Excellent Breakfast Places

Related things to do

10. Giritli Restaurant

Photo: Giritli Restaurant

Giritli Restaurant is welcoming its guests into an old and restored Sultanahmet house. Girit or Kriti, (Crete) is a Greek island in the Mediterranean Sea. The owner and chef of the restaurant, Ayşe Şensılay is a proud descendent of Crete. Her grandfather was born and grown on this island – this backdrop continues to influence her food and menu today.

For us, Giritli Restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Sultanahmet with its rich and Mediterranean menu. The menu here is packed with fresh seafood and Mediterranean cuisine. Moreover, you can enjoy dozens of different weeds grown in the Aegean region unique to this area.

If you are looking for an authentic dining experience in Sultanahmet, we recommend booking a table here. The menu appeals to everyone, and we believe you are going to love this venue!

Related content: 20 Best Turkish Street Food in Istanbul: Complete Guide & Where to Find Them

Related things to do

11. Pandeli Restaurant

Photo: Pandeli Restaurant

Pandeli Restaurant is located in the famous Spice Bazaar in Eminonu. It is relatively easier to visit since Spice Bazaar will be on your list of places to see. 

Pandeli’s restaurant is the perfect place to experience a taste of Istanbul. They offer more than 70 different dish choices, including chicken, fish, and various meats such as beef or lamb, with lots of vegetarian selections. You can’t go wrong ordering anything off this extensive menu – no matter your tastes or diet restrictions because they’ve got it covered from soup to salads to pasta favorites entrees & desserts (including Turkish coffee)!

Related content: 18 Best Taksim Restaurants That You Must Try

12. Bitlisli

Photo: Bitlisli

Bitlis is a city located in the eastern part of Turkey and famous for its local cuisine. Bitlisli Restaurant offers some of the best examples of Southeast and East Anatolian cuisine to its guests in Sultanahmet. 

We want to warn you that Southeast Anatolia is famous for its spicy food. If you’re a spice lover, the kebabs at Bitlisli will be right up your alley!

You can choose from a multitude of different options at this Sultanahmet restaurant. They offer kebabs, pides and lahmacun, as well as traditional “sarımsaklı Antep lahmacun” (lahmacun with garlic).

Related content: Turkish Raki | Complete Guide for Beginners

13. Erol Lokantası

Photo: Erol Lokantası

Lokanta is a Turkish term that can be defined as a restaurant in English. However, it has a unique style, which foods are showcased. 

Erol Lokantası is a self-service restaurant with delicious Turkish meals. All foods are cooked in the morning, and you can create your own menu by directly talking to chefs waiting behind the counters. It is an excellent opportunity for those who want to dine like locals during their Istanbul visit.

It will be worth noting that although some main courses remain the same, most of their dishes change daily. At Erol Lokantası, you can order some famous Turkish desserts too.

Related content: 9 Delicious Turkish Soups You MUST Taste During Your Turkey Holiday

14. Deraliye

Photo: Deraliye

Deraliye is one of the best restaurants in Sultanahmet, which serves Ottoman cuisine to their guests. There are two reasons that make this restaurant popular among locals and visitors. The first is because of the delicious food, and second, being their cooking classes which teach you how to cook traditional Turkish food.

This restaurant is located next to Hagia Sophia, where you can enjoy the same meals that were cooked for Ottoman Emperors. This is a great spot if you are looking for somewhere nearby with delicious food and an easy location near many other historical sites in Sultanahmet, Istanbul.

Related content: 11 Foods to Challenge Your Eyes & Tastebuds: Offal Dishes in Turkey

Final words

We have compiled a list of 14 best Sultanahmet restaurants for you to enjoy while visiting Istanbul. The city is known as the culinary capital of Turkey, so it would be a shame not to try some delicious Turkish cuisine! If you’re looking for more than just food, our tour guides can take you on walking food tours and show you around this historic area. Have fun exploring all that Istanbul has to offer with us!

More of the best restaurants & food in Istanbul:

Sign up for our newsletter and

Get the Istanbul Food Guide for FREE

By signing up, you agree to the Terms and Privacy Policy and consent to receive emails from Yummy Istanbul about news, events, offers, and promotions.