As Turkey’s capital and its second largest city, Ankara is the heart of the country’s international affairs as well as a thriving cultural center. Thanks to its mix of ancient history and modern, metropolitan character, the city offers a varied dining scene, with choices ranging from typical Turkish haunts to a number of exclusive fine dining options. Read on to find out about the top ten restaurants in Ankara.
In the middle of the Anatolian plateau, hundreds of kilometers away from the sea, very few people would expect to feast on delicious fish. Yet a meal at Trilye is defined by many as one of the best dining experiences in Ankara. Decorated with blue lights, a large canopy covers the central courtyard with its apricot and cherry trees, while the indoor dining hall overlooks the green space with its wide windows. Early in the night, chef and owner Süreyya Üzmez often entertains his guests, before disappearing into the kitchen. On browsing through the menu, diners will be spoiled for choice; shellfish, dentex, swordfish and sea bass cross paths with surprises like octopus stew and semolina halva ice-cream.
‘A book of verses underneath the bough, a jug of wine, a loaf of bread — and thou.’ This quote defines paradise in the words of Sufi philosopher and poet Ömer Hayyam, to whom Hayyami Şarap Evi owes its name. Dim lighting, barrels, stone, and a lowered location for the dining room create a romantic atmosphere here, enhanced by the selection of local and international dishes on the menu. Large cheese platters to go with one of the 240 wines on offer, and a local dish of barbecued sausages, salçalı sosis, are among the favorites.
Hayyami Şarap Evi, Bestekar Sk. No:82/B Kavaklıdere, Ankara, Turkey, +90 312 466 1052
The third one to open, the Tunali branch of Balıkçıköy is one of Anakara’s favorite seafood restaurants. Sheltered by a tall hedge, a terrace on the roadside offers diners an outdoor space, while a plethora of marine decor and light furniture set the mood in the indoor dining halls. The seaside atmosphere provides an enjoyable environment for both lunchtime and evening meals. Among the selection of cold meze that are available for guests to choose from, the pickled whitebait is a favorite. Be it grilled or pan-fried, the variety of fish served will satisfy even the most discerning of taste buds.
Balikcikoy Fahri, Abay Kunanbay Cd No:4 D:1, Kavaklıdere/Ankara, Turkey, +90 312 466 0450
Once a caravanserai, the Çengelhan was built in 1523 to host traders and travelers spending the night in the Ankara Citadel. Nowadays the building is home to the Çengelhan Rahmi M. Koç Müzesi, the city’s museum for transport and communication. Under the glass ceiling of its inner courtyard is Çengelhan Brasserie. Surrounded by arcades, the restaurant offers a fascinating dining experience, with its tables ensconced among old cars on display and biplanes hanging from the ceiling. Combining the flavors of Ottoman tradition with contemporary international flavors, the menu includes dishes like the Ankara tavası, a local lamb casserole, or the ballı dana kaburga, a dish of veal ribs with honey, as well as Wiener schnitzel or shrimp and mushroom casseroles.
Leman Kültür is named after a satirical Turkish comic book series. One of a bunch of branches spread across Turkey, this trendy establishment is surrounded by the buzzing ambiance of Konur Sokak. The interior decor is inspired by the comic strips, giving the place a unique style and a boisterous vibe. Leman Kültür caters for a diverse crowd, serving a menu of Chinese egg rolls, tortellini, chicken fajitas and many other options. The popular köfteli sandviç is a highlight; served with a cheese, eggplant and garlic sauce, this sandwich gives an unexpected twist to the typical taste of köfte meatballs.
Leman Kultur Tunalı Şubesi, Meşrutiyet Mh., Ankara, Turkey, +90 312 417 4105
Located on the Ulus hill, and within the walls of the Ankara Kalesi, Zenger Paşa is housed in an 18th-century mansion. The rustic interiors and variety of Ottoman artifacts displayed on the ground floor infuse the place with a museum-like feel. Climbing up the staircase will lead guests to a panoramic view of the city, which is in itself worth the effort. The pleasurable sight provides the backdrop to a traditionally prepared meal. Cooked in an original Ottoman oven, pide and bazlama flatbreads are accompanied by a selection of meze and grills. Saç kavurma, a meat dish fried on an iron plate, is flamed directly at the table.
Zenger Pasa Manor House, Hatipköy Mh., Doyran Sk No:13, Ankara, Turkey, +90 312 311 7070
Polished wooden floors, tall glass walls and warm red tones make for a refined and charming atmosphere at Fige. A colorful, blossoming garden will please those who enjoy al fresco dining. Located in the administrative district of Çankaya, home to many embassies and government departments, the restaurant allows views of the Atakule Tower, a sight that is especially beautiful at night-time. The menu at Fige offers a rich combination of Turkish, Asian and international dishes, where manti and böregi are served alongside a selection of salads, pasta and meat dishes. Fige also hosts a jazz club, where live music performances are offered on most nights.