Dishes You Need to Try When You're in Ankara, Turkey

Yelken Balık is one of the top seafood restaurants in Ankara, and an essential stop on any foodie tour of the city
Yelken Balık is one of the top seafood restaurants in Ankara, and an essential stop on any foodie tour of the city | © Yelken Balık
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

As the capital city of Turkey, Ankara has plenty of amazing dishes that need to be devoured with utmost joy when you’re in town. From traditional kebab to delicious sweet desserts, take note of these essential edible experiences for your upcoming trip.

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Grilled fish at Yelken Balık

One of the best seafood restaurants in Ankara, Yelken Balık is the most popular representative of Aegean and Mediterranean cuisine in the city. Their hot and cold meze varieties are just a harbinger for the fresh, seasonal fish – best served grilled and with a glass of rakı.

İskender at Uludağ Kebabçısı

Uludağ Kebabçısı is famous in Ankara for its delicious iskender kebap, made of pide bread topped with thin slices of döner kebab, tomato sauce and melted butter. Though the menu also has many other kebab varieties, it’s the iskender that’s the trademark here.

Milk desserts at Zeynel

The spectrum of Turkish desserts is wide and varied – and at Zeynel, you’ll get the best of the milk desserts. Try the kazandibi (thick pudding with a slightly burned caramelised top), muhallebi (pudding with mastic), or tavuk göğsü (thick pudding with thin slices of chicken breast).

Baklava at Baklavacı Hacıbaba

An essential stop for the saccharine side of Turkish cuisine, Hacıbaba is the best place to get baklava in Ankara. The company was established in 1949, with the third generation of the owning family now in charge.

Döner kebab at Bursa Hacı Bey Kebabçısı

Bursa Hacı Bey Kebabçısı, open since 1961, serves döner kebab as it was intended – simple yet loyal to the traditional recipe and ingredients. The excellent cuts of döner are accompanied by tomato sauce and yogurt.

Sweets and lokum at Ali Uzun Şekercilik

The last stop on a dessert tour of Ankara leads to Ali Uzun, a marvellous sweet shop open since 1935, where you’ll find all the classic Turkish treats your heart desires. You’ll find akide şekeri (Turkish hard candy), with hazelnut, mint, strawberry, lemon, or cinnamon, as well as lokum (Turkish delight), helva, pişmaniye (floss candy), and almond paste.

Meze at Kalbur

You’ll have to make a reservation to get a table at this popular seafood restaurant. In a tavern-like atmosphere, enjoy amazing seasonal meze dishes, such as şevket-i bostan (thistle), sübyeli çorba (soup with ink fish), or palamut pilaki (horse mackerel with bean stew).

Esnaf dishes at Çiçek Lokantası

The esnaf lokantası (tradesmen restaurant) is an essential in Istanbul, but Ankara also has its Çiçek Lokantası for those classic home-cooked Turkish dishes that locals see as comfort food. You’ll find everything from traditional Turkish soups to meat and vegetable dishes, and desserts.

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