Edirne has become famous for the annual Kırkpınar Festival, where oil-wrestling icons and newbies battle it out for the champion title. But the city has a historic merit and delicious food to be a destination in its own right. Make sure to dine at these excellent venues while in Edirne.
Edirne’s fried liver is famous, and a whole row of ciğerci (restaurants specializing in liver) stand side by side in the Kaleiçi neighborhood. Head straight to the local favorite Niyazi Usta, where the liver is sliced thin, fried to perfection, and served with pepper, spices, onion, bread, and a special sauce.
The city’s oldest meyhane, Gazi Baba has been around since 1967 and serves up excellent meze, such as the much recommended borani (dish made of yogurt, garlic, olive oil, and spinach) and közde peynirli patlıcan (grilled eggplant with cheese). There’s also live fasıl music, which really sets the traditional mood.
With a wooden cabin atmosphere, complete with little decorative windows and colorful lights, Edirne’s other famous tavern definitely has a nostalgic vibe. Order from the long list of freshly made meze at Zindanaltı, as well as a bottle of rakı to really revel in the meyhane experience.
In the mood for köfte (grilled meatballs)? Then head to Köfteci Osman. Apart from the excellent köfte, try out the famous hardaliye (drink made from grapes, crushed mustard seeds, and sour cherry leaves) and the peynir tatlısı (semolina dessert with cheese).
A must in Edirne is trying out its famous desserts: kavala kurabiyesi (almond cookie), badem ezmesi (marzipan), lokum (Turkish Delight), and devai misk (Ottoman halva with cinnamon, ginger, mastic, and saffron). The best places to get these saccharine delights are at the Keçecizade sweet shop, which has been around since 1961.
In the mornings, one of the best places for the full Turkish breakfast treatment is Tadım, which focuses solely on breakfast. Definitely order one of the many varieties of menemen (eggs with diced tomatoes and peppers), warm milk with honey, Edirne cheeses, and Turkish tea at this local favorite.
This esnaf lokantası (restaurant serving Turkish home cooking) is one of Edirne’s best, serving up classic Turkish dishes with an Ottoman influence. The ciğer kapama (stuffed lamb liver), yogurt from sheep’s milk, and the çoban kebab (stew with diced beef, onions, peppers, and tomatoes). The söğüs soğan (salad with onions, parsley, sumac, olive oil, and lemon) is also quite the favorite.