Istanbul is one of the most visited cities in the world. It offers its guests extensive gastronomic opportunities. The metropolis has thousands of restaurants, cafes and eateries. The prices of dishes vary heavily from place to place but it would be a mistake to believe that all enterprises in touristy areas deliberately increase the cost of dishes.
In the Sultanahmet historical quarters there are a considerable number of cafes ready to pamper tourists with tasty and inexpensive food. Having experienced the restaurants of the city, we compiled a selection of the best budget eateries. Everyone who is interested in where to eat in Istanbul will find many inexpensive options in our article.
1. Galata kitchen
If you are looking for a Cafe in Istanbul where you can eat cheaply, head to Galata Kitchen. It is a quiet and comfortable place, located far from the bustling central streets. The menu of the restaurant includes a large variety of home cooked food. They have both non-vegetarian and vegetarian food. But the greatest variety you will find in the Meze. Not to try which would be a mistake.
“Meze” in Turkey is a variety of snacks, among which you can find both salads and sauces. Galata Kitchen has affordable prices yet the portions are quite large. All snacks and main dishes available can be seen in on display, so you have the opportunity to immediately see what you order.
Most diner visitors talk about the high quality of food served here. All products are fresh and tasty. A hearty lunch for two will on an average cost 60 TL. Bread in any quantity is served free of charge, and at the end of the meal, the restaurant waiters treat guests with black Turkish tea. It’s useful to know that the Galata Kitchen staff speaks English very well.
- Address: Müeyyetzade. Mah., Tatar Beyi Sk. 9 B, 34425 Beyoğlu / İstanbul.
- Opening hours: daily from 09:00 to 22:00. Closed on Sundays
2. Velvet Cafe
The food in Istanbul is diverse and this cafe is a part of that diversity. It is best to drop by after an exhausting walk around the city. It is an inexpensive place where breakfast is served in the morning and fresh Turkish pastries and fruit desserts are served throughout the day. A feature of the establishment was a rich collection of coffee cups, both preserved from the Ottoman era and brought from other countries. The friendly owners of the cafeteria offer each visitor to choose from the cup they want to enjoy the taste of Turkish coffee. You should try literally every dish here, but homemade baklava and halva, strawberry pudding and chocolate cake are it’s specialties.
Prices at Velvet Cafe are moderately expensive. The cost of pastries and desserts varies between 7-15 TL, and on average you can have a meal here for 30 TL for two. Since the cafe is small, designed for a maximum of 20 visitors, sometimes you simply can’t find a free table here.
- Address: Bereketzade Mahallesi, Büyük Hendek Cd., 34421 Beyoğlu / İstanbul.
- Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday – from 10:00 to 20:30; Friday and Saturday – from 10:00 to 21:00. The cafe is closed on Monday.
3. Balkan Lokantasi
The inexpensive Balkan Lokantasi is a standard Turkish diner with a large selection of salads, soups, side dishes, meat dishes and desserts. Ready-made food is displayed at the window, so you can immediately see what is available and make an order. You should not expect any special gastronomy here, but we advise you to try lentil soup, the second of chickpeas, chicken and lamb. The food here is really cheap and tasty, and the portions are large. A meal for two averages at 25-30 TL. But there are two insignificant minuses here: there are always a lot of people here, and the staff is not fluent in English.
- Address: Hocapasa Mah. Hoca Pasa Sok. No: 12 | Fatih / İstanbul.
- Opening hours: daily from 07:00 to 23:00.
4. Ortaklar Kebap Lahmacun
For those who do not know where to eat in Istanbul in the Sultanahmet area, this restaurant will be a real discovery. Firstly, they cook delicious Turkish food, and secondly, they offer it at very low prices. The menu in the restaurant is extensive, there are many meat dishes, soups, salads and fish. One should definitely try lahmajun and pide – the famous Turkish cakes with minced meat, as well as lamb kebab and pomegranate juice. Although the cafe does not have the best interiors, its cheap menu overshadows this minor detail. A meal for two is only 40 TL.
- Address: Binbirdirek Mh., Peykhane Cd. No: 27, 34122 Fatih / İstanbul
- Schedule: daily from 11:30 to 01:00. Seven days a week.
5. Bilice Kebap – for meat specialities
The cost of food in Istanbul may vary depending on the restaurant, its location and the menu offered in it. And if you try, it is possible to find an inexpensive place specializing in the preparation of meat dishes. This is Bilice Kebap, where for a reasonable price you will be served mutton and beef in pita bread or with a plate of rice.
The waiters bring a huge tray of snacks and a bottle of water to accompany any kebab. At the end of the meal, they will certainly treat you to a cup of tea. Be sure to try fresh meat kebabs and lamb ribs here. On average, two people can eat there for two for 55 TL, which is quite cheap for the touristy area of Istanbul.
- Address: Asmalı Mescit Mahallesi, Asmalı Mescit Cd. No: 8, 34430 Beyoğlu / İstanbul.
- Opening hours: open every day, seven days a week, from 10:00 to 02:00.
6. ZiyaBaba – for grilled dishes
This is another place in Istanbul where you can eat tasty and inexpensive food. Turkish breakfast is served here in the morning, and cheap grilled dishes are served throughout the day. In addition to the standard meat menu, the restaurant also has an eggplant barbecue, which must be appreciated. The choice of food is rather modest, but it is tasty and served in large quantities. Fresh flat cakes and hot peppers are included with the order for free.
The diner is run by a married couple and the price-quality ratio is very fair. A meal for two will cost you 30-40 TL, and a big tasty breakfast will cost 50 TL, which is very cheap for the center of the metropolis.
- Address: Küçük Ayasofya Mah, Kadırga Limanı Cd. No: 136, 34122 Fatih / İstanbul
- Opening hours: daily from 08:30 to 22:30.
7. Tarihi Cesme – for fish lovers
If you are looking for an inexpensive place in Istanbul where you can eat fish, head to Tarihi Cesme. The restaurant specializes not only in seafood, but also in meat. Fish dishes here are tender, very tasty, and most importantly – cheap. We especially recommend tasting dorado, sea bass and shrimp with stewed vegetables. Well, for those who do not like fish, the menu offers several types of kebab, as well as pide and various soups. Finish your lunch with a juicy baklava.
On average, you will pay 50-60 TL for a hearty dinner for two in a here, which is inexpensive for the center of Istanbul. Unlike most of the diners we describe, Tarihi Cesme serves alcoholic drinks. So, a glass of aromatic wine will cost you only 10 TL, and a beer in 15 TL. Separately, it is worth noting tat the waiters here are particularly helpfulness and efficienct.
- Address: Küçük Ayasofya Mh., Küçük Ayasofya Cami Sk. No: 1, 34122 Fatih / İstanbul
- Opening hours: 12:00 – 00:00. Sunday from 12:00 to 22:30.
8. Hoca pasa pidecisi – for pide
This is a reasonably priced, good-value diner in Istanbul for a good meal. The highlight of this restaurant is the pide with various fillings. The menu offers a large selection of pides with toppings such as minced meat, egg, cheese, pieces of beef, etc. A particularly satisfying and tasty option is a pide with meat and melted cheese. An ideal drink for such a meal would be fresh Ayran. Water is served free of charge for any dish, as well as pickled cucumbers and peppers.
Pide is cheap here, but the cost of one portion depends on its size: the average bill for two with drinks will be 30-35 TL. An order at Hoca Pasa Pidecisi is delivered quite quickly: the maximum waiting time is 10 minutes. This is a really delicious and inexpensive street food option in Istanbul.
- Address: Hoca Paşa Mahallesi, Ankara Caddesi & Hoca Paşa Sokak No: 11, 34110 Fatih / İstanbul.
- Opening hours: daily from 11:00 to 21:00.
9. Durumzade – for cheap doner and kebab
You will be surprised to learn that in Istanbul it is quite possible to have a meal for 9-15 TL. Proof of this will be a small cafe Durumzade, where there is the opportunity to taste doner, kebab, liver and other delicious traditional street food in Turkey at an affordable price.
This Turkish fast food joint offers meat and chicken in pita bread. The meals are quite satisfying and at the same time cheap. Of the drinks in the assortment, only Ayran and Cola are available there. For a meal for two, you will not need more than 30 TL. The cafe is quite cramped with a minimum number of tables, but is suitable for anyone who wants a quick bite to eat.
- Address: Hüseyinağa Mahallesi, Kamer Hatun Cd. 26 / A, 34435 Beyoğlu / İstanbul.
- Hours: Open 24/7
10. Sehzade cag kebap – for lamb
The Sehzade Cag Kebap can be found on a small shopping street. It is one of the best places to eat in Istanbul. The restaurant’s main product is lamb. Although the menu consists of only 7 items, in addition to meat, you can taste lentil soup, vegetable salad and creamy dessert. The meat dishes in the diner are served in the form of skewers on skewers along with freshly baked thin pita bread.
Be sure to appreciate the juicy and delicate taste of mutton cooked there. The portion is medium in size. The service in the cafe is prompt, and the service itself is unobtrusive. It is noteworthy that visitors here have the opportunity to observe the whole process of the kebabs being cooked. A meal for two here will cost about 35-45 TL, which in Istanbul is considered quite affordable.
- Address: Hocapaşa Sokak No: 6 D: 4, 34110 Fatih / İstanbul.
- Schedule: daily from 11:00 to 22:00. Sunday closed.
Now you know exactly where to eat in Istanbul. The options are diverse and, although each of them has some pros and cons, all the institutions described by us are unique in their own ways – they offer delicious food at a low cost. And this is key for thrifty travelers.