The Central and Southern Aegean Coast Restaurants

Dining out along the Aegean coast is a pleasure, especially if you enjoy seafood and fresh produce. There are countless seafood restaurants at all price ranges. A typical meal includes an assortment of hot and cold meze (appetizers), a mixed salad, and the catch of the day, capped off with a Turkish dessert. To make it authentic, accompany your meal with rak? (a spirit similar in taste to oúzo). Some of the more common fish you'll find along the Aegean coast are levrek (sea bass), çipura (sea bream), barbunya (red mullet), and lahos (grouper), as well as tasty smaller fish like sardalya (sardines). Note that most fish restaurants charge per kilogram for whole fish, and the prices often aren't listed; ask before ordering to avoid receiving an unexpectedly large bill at the end of an otherwise pleasant meal. Of course, there are plenty of meat and kebab restaurants around, too, if that’s what you’re craving.

For dessert, try local dondurma (Turkish ice cream, often thickened with orchid root or mastic resin), as well as milk puddings and baklava. It’s often better to avoid hotel restaurants at lunch and dinner—you can frequently find better and less expensive food a short walk away—but luxury and boutique hotels might be an exception as they are often firm favorites on the local restaurant scene. And don’t forget street snacks! In season, you can grab fat local Smyrna figs; a cup of icy, dark berry ?erbet (think of it as Ottoman Gatorade); or a sesame-studded feta-and-tomato sandwich, each for less than a dollar in central ?zmir. Simit, the classic Turkish bagel-like street snack, is called gevrek in the ?zmir region, and often purchased along with a piece of tulum peyniri (goat's milk cheese) and a hard-boiled egg, following an old Sephardic culinary custom.

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  • 1. Dalyan Restaurant (Cevat'ın Yeri)

    $$$

    This outdoor terrace overlooking the waterfront is an ideal spot in Dalyanköy for a splurgy seafood dinner. After meze of kabak çiçeği dolması (stuffed zucchini...Read More

  • 2. Garo's

    $$$

    The peripatetic Turkish-Armenian maestro Garo heads the kitchen at this enduringly popular stone cottage–turned–waterfront restaurant in Türkbükü with a comfy Greek-taverna feel, friendly staff, and...Read More

  • 3. Deniz Restoran

    $$$

    Deniz means "sea" in Turkish, an appropriate name for this popular, pricey seafood eatery on the Kordon waterfront, whose tables spill out of the ground...Read More

  • 4. Gemibaşı

    $$$

    For almost half a century, this popular, no-frills restaurant near the marina has been serving the freshest seafood in town. House specialties include fish soup...Read More

  • 5. Miam

    $$$$

    Wonderfully prepared seafood is served with polish at this pleasant spot, as are the meat and pasta dishes. After midnight, there are often DJs at...Read More

  • 6. Tuval Restaurant

    $$$

    This seafood and grill restaurant at Çeşme Marina has a menu of international and Turkish dishes, spanning everything from meze to pasta, fajitas, grilled lamb...Read More

  • 7. Kocadon

    $$$

    The owners have transformed the palm- and mulberry tree--filled courtyard of their 200-year-old family home into a romantic haven, where candlelit peacefulness and exquisite Mediterranean...Read More

  • 8. Kapha

    $$$$

    Fusion fine-dining is offered in a sleek contemporary setting that’s as stylishly well-designed as the plates that come out of chef Sedat Arslan’s kitchen. Make...Read More

  • 9. Mi Casa Trattoria

    $$$

    Although not far removed from the hub of the nightlife in Alaçatı, this comfortable bar and romantic dining room is tucked away on a secluded...Read More

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