Where to Find the Best Köftes in Turkey

Köfte | © E4024 / WikiCommons
Köfte | © E4024 / WikiCommons

It would be entirely insufficient to call köfte a “Turkish meatball” because it’s so much more than that. Hand-kneaded thoroughly with various spices and herbs, as well as onion, garlic, and bread crumbs (usually), Turkish köfte has many different variations, ingredients, and accompaniments, depending on every region and every cook. Here is a countdown to some great places where you can indulge in the ultimate Turkish comfort food.

Köfteci Ali Baba

Restaurant, Turkish
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Opened in 1982 in Istanbul’s Arnavutköy neighborhood, famed for its waterfront Ottoman mansions, Köfteci Ali Baba is a pretty laid-back joint in an upscale area. Here, you’ll get a very straightforward menu of excellently grilled köfte with piyaz (bean vinaigrette salad) and ayran (yogurt drink).

Özcanlar Köfte

Restaurant, Turkish, $$$
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As mentioned previously, every region/city is proud of its köfte, and here you’ll find Tekirdağ Köfte, which hasn’t changed since the opening of Özcanlar in 1953. With three branches to their name, the restaurant handles its own meat production, so you’ll know you’ll be getting a high-quality köfte.

Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta

Restaurant, Turkish, $$$
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The Sultanahmet Koftecisi restaurant
The Sultanahmet Köftecisi restaurant is known for its signature köfte dish | © Stuart Kelly / Alamy Stock Photo

A real tourist favorite, Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta has somehow managed to remain very authentic and true to his recipe. You’ll find the classic köfte, which hasn’t changed since the restaurant’s founding in 1920, along with piyaz and ayran.

Beyti

Restaurant, Turkish, Middle Eastern, $$$
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One of Istanbul’s most well-known grilled meat restaurants, Beyti, which has been around since 1945, is famous for its namesake Beyti Kebab. However, like all the other grilled meat varieties on the menu, their köfte is just perfect and served with mashed potatoes and rice.

Çanak

Restaurant, Turkish, Vegetarian, $$$
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Çanak Köfte
Çanak Köfte | © Feride Yalav

Hidden away in Istanbul’s historic Balat neighborhood, you’d walk right past this place if you didn’t know better. At Çanak, you’ll find the city’s best kuru fasulye (bean stew) and köfte accompanied by buttery rice and thick yogurt made from water buffalo milk.

Özdoyum

Restaurant, Turkish, $$$
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This longstanding restaurant, established in 1974, is the best place to get some delicious köfte in Antalya. Unlike its rivals, Özdoyum’s köftes are made without herbs and cooked only with salt on a shish over a charcoal barbecue. The accompanying piyaz and ayran, however, have remained true to the classic recipes.

Meşhur Köfteci Mustafa

Restaurant, Turkish, $$$
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A köfte legend in Adapazarı, Meşhur Köfteci Mustafa, opened in 1912, is known for its excellent ıslama köfte (köfte on toasted bread that is then soaked in beef broth and red pepper). Three generations later, and the family continues the tradition of the delicious köfte, whose ingredients have remained a secret.

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