Istanbul does not only have luxurious restaurants, but also many restaurants that are small, locally owned and inexpensive. Some of these restaurants offer international dishes along with traditional Turkish dishes
Istanbul offers a variety of tastes when it comes to gastronomy. It is possible to find places that address every budget and palate. In fact, there are so many places that one cannot list them all. The new trend is to try small, local restaurants instead of luxurious and fancy restaurants in the heart of the city. So, let's take a gastro-tour without burning a hole in our pockets and taste a wide range of delights from Korean food to trotter soup in order to save same money for our summer vacation. Here are some of the local restaurants that have survived right next to world-renowned sites in Istanbul for so many years:
Paçacı Mahmut Usta
As someone who has been eating trotter soup for the last five months in order for my broken collarbone to heal, I can say that Mahmut Usta knows how to make trotter soup. Besides Mahmut Usta, who used to serve only trotter, now serves sheep's head and rice each day as well. However, I advise you to try trotter soup made with water buffalo yogurt. A quick heads-up though: The restaurant opens at 5:00 a.m. and closes before 5:00 p.m.
Even though it is summer and some of us struggle with our weight, one cannot escape eating kebabs. So, our next stop is Seyhmus Kebap Restaurant in Çemberlitaş. This small, local restaurant only serves lunch and it is also possible to run into a few Turkish celebrities while enjoying your meal. In particular, writers are regulars at the kebab restaurant. The lahmacun, yogurt, sauces and even salad in the restaurant are delicious in a different way. Seymus kebab with nuts is the restaurant's special. You can fill your belly for TL 30 per person.
Here is another small but welcoming place: The Cuma Usta ice cream shop in Zeytinburnu. Cuma Usta followed in the footsteps of his father and became a snow collector, even traveling the mountains near Istanbul to collect snow. It feels nice to try this authentic Adana dessert on a hot summer day in Istanbul.
Kısmet Muhallebicisi (Pudding Shop)
Do not let the name of the place fool you. You can find any dish and dessert related to chicken in this small place, located in Küçükpazar. Chicken broth soup, stewed chicken and other meals are all delicious but the special here is chicken breast with white pudding.
This restaurant, which is located in a village in Kemerburgaz and whose motto is "There is no class difference, but good food," welcomes many familiar faces. Many gourmet-lovers call this restaurant a place where the haricot bean should be sampled. However, I like its döner the most. The restaurant's service begins with soup at 5:00 a.m. every day and closes at night. During lunch, the restaurant becomes very crowded and most of the time you have to share your table with other customers. Some days, the restaurant offers special meals to its guests. If you have a chance, I recommend you try sütlaç, a traditional Turkish dessert with milk and rice.
Cafe Bunka is one of the most popular restaurants among students when it comes to Japanese cuisine. It opens at 12:00 p.m. and closes at 11:00 p.m. Apart from sushi, the restaurant offers its guests examples from traditional Japanese cuisine. Ginger tuna fish, miso soup, Japanese patties and rice with shrimp standout on the menu. Sake, the Japanese rice wine, is also served at the restaurant. If you stop by, I urge you to try profiterole with green tea.
Seorabeol Korean Restaurant
Let's start our tour with Korean cuisine, which has been one of the most-trending world cuisines in the last two years. As far as I know, there are two other Korean restaurants in Taksim and Sultanahmet. However, the one in Şişli, Seorabeol, is both cheaper and more delicious. You can have a feast for TL 65 ($23.42) per person. If you prefer to eat from the regular menu, it costs no more than TL 40. If you are wondering what you should eat, you should give kimchi a go, which is a kind of pickle. The sushi is also very delicious.
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