Turkey: Food Guide - Dining Out

Bridging the East and West

Dining out in Turkey is a big affair for most locals, with long hours spent at the dining table. The meals are extensive and can take a good 2 hours to complete. Turkish cuisine is strongly Mediterranean and Middle Eastern in flavor with European influences as well. Apart from local Turkish cuisine, a wide range of world cuisines is also available, owing to the high tourist traffic in the country, but the local food is highly recommended. Light, healthy and flavorful, that would be the best way to describe most Turkish food. Appetizers are an important part of any Turkish meal, and consist mainly of fresh and pickled vegetables, braised and sautéed vegetables, seafood and chicken salads, vine leaves stuffed with rice, and a variety of nuts. The main course is usually full of flavors and spices, a far cry from the appetizers.

Koftas which are spicy lamb meatballs and kebabs which are small pieces of meat, chicken and fish marinated in a concoction of spices and yogurt, are essentials to any Turkish main course. In addition to this delicacies like grilled meats and seafood, and stewed vegetables and meat are quite popular. Every local eatery in Turkey has a more or less similar menu, with standard dishes available. Desserts are elaborate, with dry fruit based desserts the rage. Desserts made with fresh seasonal fruits are quite popular as well. Although Turkey is an Islamic country, alcohol is freely available and there are no restrictions whatsoever. Only during the Holy month of Ramadan, restraint in the form of avoiding public drinking is expected from tourists alike.