Organic Restaurants in Istanbul for a Healthier Bite to Eat

Courtesy of Aheste Pera
Courtesy of Aheste Pera
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

The organic food movement has reached its peak in Istanbul, where restaurants now boast ingredients that have been acquired from organic markets and natural producers from all over Turkey. Of course, some of them are real standouts because of the original dishes created through the use of these both seasonal and organic ingredients. Read on for our top picks.

1. Kilimanjaro

Restaurant, Turkish, Mediterranean

The restaurants stylish interior
Courtesy of Autoban

One of the latest additions to Istanbul’s restaurant scene, Kilimanjaro not only stands out for its interior design (completed by Istanbul’s famous design firm Autoban) but also for its original menu. The restaurant guarantees that all its ingredients are either homemade, free from any additives, made with natural techniques or acquired locally from organic producers. One of the highlights is the Feriköy Organic Market dish, which serves up seasonal vegetables from the nearby neighborhood organic market with special dip. It’s recommended to get a few mezze dishes to share, such as the warm celery with orange, strained yogurt, and roasted walnuts; or the the baked beets with Ezine cheese cream and pine nuts, just to name a few.

2. Zencefil Restaurant

Restaurant, Cafe, Turkish, Vegetarian

Zencefil, Istanbul
© Haldun Kirkbir

The city’s favorite vegetarian restaurant is also one of the best places to go if you’re looking for a healthy meal cooked with organic ingredients. You’ll already feel healthier when you walk into Zencefil because of its brightly colored walls, simple wooden tables and chairs, and outside terrace with plenty of potted plants. On the menu there’s lots to choose from, including pumpkin soup, stuffed dried eggplant, okra with chickpeas, and smoked bulgur with vegetables.

3. Nicole Restaurant

Restaurant, Turkish, French

A fine French spread – and organic, of course
Courtesy of Nicole Restaurant

One of Istanbul’s best haute cuisine restaurants, the chefs of Nicole wander the city’s organic markets to get inspiration for their tasting menus, which change according to the seasons. Their dishes are unique, because they combine local and organic ingredients with very fine French cooking techniques, for a culinary experience that’s definitely unforgettable. Some examples include almond soup with asparagus and peas; duck, peas and olives; and ox tongue with beet salad.

4. Journey

Cafe, Restaurant, Turkish, Mediterranean

A paradise for freelancers because of the cozy communal table upstairs, Journey is a great café and restaurant where you can hang out all day and feel completely at home. Their menu is also very much focused on organic ingredients, such as Himalayan salt, olive oil from Edremit, organic chicken from Bolu, desserts and ice cream made from organic milk and yogurt, free-range eggs, and much more. The Journey Breakfast (with Turkish cheeses, homemade jams, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggs, and a walnut pastry) as well as the homemade Papardelle with porcini mushrooms, organic chicken, and cream sauce are some of our favorites.

5. Aheste Pera

Restaurant, Turkish, Contemporary

Aheste is a modern take on the Turkish meyhane
© Baris Ozcetin

A modern take on the Turkish meyhane (tavern), Aheste is a real lover of slow food and mezze-style dishes made from organic ingredients. Mezze dishes from Anatolia, as well as Armenia, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon are all given a contemporary twist, and are absolutely delicious because of the focus on produce from organic markets, special spices from Antakya, and fresh fish directly from the sea. We recommend you order the tasting menu to get a taste of everything including Erzincan cheese with melon, grilled okra, caramelized eggplant, and slow cooked lamb with rice, to name just a few.

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