The Dishes You Have to Try in Izmir, Turkey

| © Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

Turkey’s ‘Pearl of the Aegean’ has plenty to offer apart from very fresh and delicious sea food. From amazing desserts to Aegean and Turkish classics, here are some dishes you can savor while in Izmir.


Meze (appetizers) are a classic in Turkish cities bordering the sea and are best enjoyed with rakı and friends. Yengeç is one of the best places to try meze because their menu has a vast amount of options from honey calamarı to grilled eggplant and so much more.

Sea food

Apart from fresh fish, the Aegean also has a lot of amazing sea food on offer, and Akının Yeri is one of Izmir’s most popular sea food restaurants. The calamari is amazing and comes highly recommended.


Gözleme is the ultimate comfort food and is composed of slightly grilled sheets of dough with various fillings. Izmir’s Gözlemecim has more than 700 kinds of delicious gözleme and is, therefore, quite popular.

Grilled fish

No trip to the Aegean would be complete without some fresh fish, and Deniz restaurant is one of the best places to get the catch of the day grilled to perfection.


Urla is about a half an hour drive from Izmir city and is famous for both its wine and katmer. The puffy and buttery pastry is filled with cheese and parsley or minced meat, and visitors should definitely try it at Ege’nin Lale Katmercisi.

Grilled octopus

Mavra restaurant is one of Izmir’s most frequented sea food restaurants serving classic meze and fish. However, the house specialty is the grilled octopus, which has become a favorite among regulars.


Şambalı is made from baked semolina, yogurt, and sugar and topped with sugar and almonds. Izmir’s Meşhur Hisarönü Şambalıcısı has been making this dessert since 1942 and serves it with a side of clotted cream. It’s heavenly.


A delightful dessert, profiteroles are composed of crispy pastry balls filled with cream and topped with a thick chocolate sauce. In Izmir, Reyhan Pastanesi is the best place to get a taste of this amazing saccharine wonder.

Lor Tatlısı

Izmir has a lot of excellent bakeries and patisseries, and Şortan Pastanesi is known for its amazing Lor Tatlısı. These sweet pastries, made with lor cheese, are moist due to a sweet sherbet.

Grilled meat

If all that sea food has you yearning for some meat, then Tavacı Recep Usta is the best place to go in Izmir. You’ll find plenty of kebab varieties as well as grilled lamb chops or liver shish.

Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Culture Trip Summer Sale

Save up to $1,395 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article