Ankara Restaurants and Dining

(Ankara, Turkey)

Photo of the Kizilay areaThere is a wide choice of eateries in Ankara, from Turkish doner kebab outlets and snacking hawker stalls, to full-blown international restaurants and Western-style cafés and bars. You will also find typical fast-food joints in Ankara, like McDonald's and Burger King, as well as gourmet fine dining at exorbitant prices.

Turkish tastes are not for everyone, but many restaurants in Ankara's tourist areas have toned down the spice to appeal to a wider audience. Fish and seafood in Ankara is particularly notable and dining in the Old Town is as atmospheric as it gets.

Further image of the Kizilay area

When to Eat / Opening Hours

The Turks are early risers and food stalls on the streets of Ankara are open well before the typical tourist rises.

The popular snack known as 'smit' is available throughout the morning, although there are no set breakfast, lunch, and dinner times as such. Smit may not be unique to Ankara, but is a lot crispier here than in other Turkish destinations and comes covered with delicious soft cheese. You can find smit stands at areas all over the city of a morning. In general, eating out in Ankara of a night is not a late experience, yet locals often spend all evening dining.

Citadel picture

What to Eat

Ankara doesn't offer the choice or quality of Istanbul's dining, yet it does have some fine fish and kebab restaurants. The classic, traditional cuisine of Ankara is the 'iskender kebab' (spit-cooked sliced lamb with tomatoes, yoghurt and butter) and although catering to locals, they are also good for tourist tastes. Spicy 'urfa' is another popular food, while vegetarians can order an 'adana kebab' for its vegetables alone.

Doner kebabs are the best eat in the city and to find a good one, simply follow the locals or check the shop's doner round (the large spit of meat) is rectangular, and that the slices of meat are flat. A typical Turkish meal generally begins with a vegetarian starter (meze), followed by a lamb or fish main course, and then a traditional Turkish dessert, such as Turkish delight (jellied candy), 'lokma' (fried sweet dough served in syrup), or 'sutlac' (rice pudding).

City centre view

Where to Eat

Without a doubt the best place to eat in Ankara for ambiance is in the historic Old Town known as Ulus. Many of the old Ottoman houses within the Citadel walls have been converted into cafés and restaurants. Prices are friendly on the wallet and there is no beating the atmosphere. In addition, there are also numerous quality bars in this area of Ankara, but you will more than likely need to travel by taxi to get back to your hotel.

For an inexpensive night out, head for a kebab joint within the Kizilay neighbourhood, where the street stalls are the best in the city for their taste and quality. Buses and metro trains run between Kizilay and Ulus throughout the day.

For upmarket dining in Ankara there are many trendy bars and restaurants in the swanky Cankaya, Gaziosmanpassa, and Kavaklidere districts. Two excellent restaurants to look out for in Cankaya are Lazoli and Akdeniz Akdeniz, known for their Black Sea and Mediterranean cuisines respectively.

Sakarya Street is another popular area to dine at in Ankara and is especially well known for its fish restaurants and fast food joints. The prices here are very reasonable. If you are dining on fish, be sure to order the much-recommended Turkish tipple known as 'raki'. Tunali Street is home to the popular Ege restaurant, which is also good for fish and raki, and has a good variety of wines to boot.

For cultured dining with Turkish classical music as part of the experience, Sudem on Olgunlar Street is well known throughout the city of Ankara and is catching on among the tourist community.