Antalya Restaurants and Dining
Turkish food is famous the world over, with Antalya's restaurants incorporating many influences from Turkey's years of Ottoman occupation, as well as those of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Antalya has taken traditional Turkish cooking and dining styles, and applied them to develop its own delicacies, creating a distinct regional cuisine.
Dining out is not expensive in Antalya, and with the great selection of dishes on offer at restaurants across the city, visitors with healthy appetites could easily spend a two-week vacation without eating the same thing twice. Of course, once they taste the excellent local kebabs, most folk can't get enough of them.
When to Eat / Opening Hours
Turkish citizens eat at home a lot, so the culture of dining in restaurants, while having its place in local customs, is not as common as in other countries where eating out is cheaper and more established. Breakfast is generally eaten at home, so visitors will not find an abundance of venues open early, except in the main tourist areas.
For lunch and dinner, there is a good selection of eateries to choose from in Antalya. Restaurants catering for lunch tend to open late morning and stay open until early afternoon, while dinner venues open around 18:00 and invariably close around 23:00, unless they offer entertainment, in which case they may stay open later. Cafés around the city operate less restricted hours and usually open from lunchtime right the way through to late evening.
There are, of course, takeaway establishments that operate outside of regular dining hours at which visitors can grab a kebab or something similar if hungry between regular meal times or after a night out.
What to Eat
Antalya's restaurants offer traditional Turkish dishes and a few local specialities. Cuisine in the city makes use of fresh ingredients, such as tomatoes, eggplant (aubergine), capsicum, garlic and cucumber, and combines them with flavoursome herbs and spices, such as pepper, cumin, mint, oregano, parsley, thyme and paprika. Lamb is the favourite meat, although beef and chicken are also eaten. With Antalya being by the sea, you can also be sure to find plenty of fish and seafood dishes within the city's restaurants.
Kebabs are as popular here as anywhere in the country and they are generally served with salad and sauce in a pocket of pita bread. If you are a fan of eggplant, be sure to try the stuffed eggplant dish known as 'patlican dolmasi' or the eggplant salad named 'patlican salatasi'. If visiting Antalya between March and June, mackerel, turbot and anchovies are the main fish eaten, while from July to August, red mullet, goatfish and bluefish are the most common varieties on dining menus.
If you are fan of fish, order 'balik e met', the Turkish equivalent of fish and chips. Different varieties of fish, which are first grilled and then placed in a bread roll with fried onions, can be used for this dish. The locals wash this delicacy down with pickle water, but visitors might find this beverage a little sharp for their taste buds.
Where to Eat
The city is teeming with roadside food stalls, cafés and restaurants, and you should be able to find somewhere interesting to dine no matter where you are in the city. The Old Harbour area is recommended if you are looking for somewhere with pleasant scenery, while within the many narrow streets of the Old Town are an abundance of less scenic, but quaint, traditional dining venues serving authentic local cuisine.
If you are in the mood for a kebab, then try venues such as the Coco Bar, the Develi Restaurant or the Kirk Merdiven, all of which have solid reputations locally. Most restaurants in Antalya do offer kebabs, although you may well find that the quality differs from one venue to the next.
If fish or seafood takes your fancy whilst in Antalya, the Yali Balikevi restaurant is as popular with locals as it is with visitors. This acclaimed dining establishment serves every kind of fish and crustacean found in the surrounding Mediterranean waters and is exquisitely decorated to boot. Also highly reputed for its fish selection is Kismet Balikcisi, located near the old east bus station.
The city of Antalya also has its fair share of international restaurants to choose from, with French, Italian, Chinese and Indian eateries among them.