For the vegetarian trekking across the globe, concerns about food go far beyond the everyday omnivore’s. In addition to eagerly hoping the food will be a highlight, that it won’t break the bank, and that none of it will make one sick, the vegetarian also has to concern herself with the limitations of whether or not a locale, its customs, and its restaurants are familiar enough with vegetarian needs. Well, if you’re headed to the biggest city in Turkey, relax because there are plenty of vegetarian restaurants in Istanbul.
Turkish food is already quite vegetarian friendly, and the city of Istanbul has seen fit to double down on that reality by offering more vegetarian-friendly restaurants there than you can shake a meat-free stick at. Many of them are fantastic, and some of them are cheap. Here are just six of them, and they’re all worth a visit for reasons all their own.
The Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Istanbul, Turkey
An Istanbul restaurant that’s been popular with vegetarians for years, don’t let the fact that there is fish and chicken on the menu fool you into thinking your needs won’t be properly met. Vegetarian dishes are plentiful, and everything is prepared from scratch, utilizing the best in local, fresh, and seasonal ingredients. If you’re concerned about being an ecologically minded traveler this is an added boon. You can get breakfast, lunch, and dinner here, and the menus and specials are always translated into English, so if you’re concerned about a language barrier, Zencefil also has you covered in that department.
One of the most satisfying elements of the excellent cuisine at Bi’Nevi is that it’s actually a completely animal-product-free restaurant. Whether or not you or someone in your party is vegan, being able to sit down to a whole and healthy meal in an environment that is completely free of anything but vegetables, produce, and grains can make you feel like you’re dining in Eden. They even cater to gluten-free and raw diet desires. (Read more on their website)
3. Community Kitchen
As one of the best vegetarian restaurants in Istanbul, Community Kitchen is a favorite amongst tourists, expats, and health-conscious locals. Inexpensive and cozy, one of the highlights of their delicious and creative offerings is Wild Mushroom Day, which takes place every Sunday. The best part is that the food is still very Turkish in flavor and presentation, so you won’t just feel like you’re eating in Los Angeles, while vacationing in Turkey. (Community Kitchen on Facebook)
A great vegetarian restaurant to enjoy a more intimate meal, Tavanarasi is a top-floor establishment that can be a little tricky for the newcomer to find. Once you do, however, you’ll be glad you did. Good service, an intimate atmosphere, closely placed tables in a small and rustic dining room, the option of purchasing alcohol, and excellent — albeit expensive — food all combine to make the place feel like a special treat. It does get busy later in the night, so, either make a reservation or arrive late afternoon or early evening to beat the rush.
A completely vegetarian restaurant, Parsifal is located close to Taksim Square, and, while it’s not much to look at compared to a couple of the other restaurants on this list, the reliable food, availability of beer, and low prices more than make up for what it might lack in atmosphere.
Little and comfortable, Parsifal is open for both lunch and dinner, although every now and then they close during the afternoon. If you want an unassuming, laidback vegetarian meal that might not be overly memorable but will still more than likely hit the spot, Parsifal is perfect. (Website in English)
6. Kirik Tabak Ev Yemekleri
Last in our list of the best vegetarian restaurants in Istanbul, this small lunchtime oasis staffed by bustling Turkish women in almost comically feminine aprons, features Turkish home style cooking at its finest. While there are meat dishes available, they are sensitive to the needs of their vegetarian clientele. You can order fast and pay by weight. There are plenty of fresh salads, legume dishes, vegetables, sauces, and oversized desserts to try. Be sure you come hungry. (Website English not available)
Traveling with the courage of your convictions and concerns about health is easy to do if you’re a vegetarian in Istanbul. Three meals a day, throughout the city, you can easily have your cake and eat it, too. Just take in the fare at these six restaurants, or take your chances — the odds are good you’ll stumble across many others options common to the place as well.
This is a guest post by Jeska B who spends her time navigating the globe, while passionately promoting a vegetarian life-style