Most of the Turkish people choose doner kebab when they want to eat something in a restaurant. Doner is a part of a food culture dating back hundreds of years and, naturally, it’s one of the most popular and delicious dishes in Turkey. Due to the deep-rooted history of doner kebab, the best doner kebab restaurants in Istanbul are generally located in historical districts.
Therefore, the fame of doner has already exceeded Turkey and it’s a very well-known food all over the world. One of the first things that even the tourists visiting Turkey want to know is where to eat delicious doner. In short, doner has become another healthy fast food option all over the world.
Doner can be served in various ways. Considering it’s a fast food, it is mostly consumed as a doner wrap or sandwich. And if you wish to have your doner at a nice restaurant, you can order a portion of doner on a plate.
The best thing about having your doner on a plate is that pilaf, french fries, grilled peppers, and tomatoes are served on the side. Moreover, if a special tomato sauce and butter are added on top of doner, it turns into another great dish named “Iskender Kebab”.
There are many doner shops and restaurants serving doner and some of which are highly famous in Istanbul. These famous restaurants owe their fame to the chefs preparing doner at these places.
Best Doner Kebab Places in Istanbul 2021
The best doner kebab places in Istanbul are mostly located in historical districts. There are historical doner kebab shops in districts such as Eminonu, Sultanahmet and Beyazit in the Old City of Istanbul. On the other hand, districts such as Beyoglu (aka Taksim) and Kadikoy (Asian Side) also host the places of famous doner chefs.
In this article, you can find the best doner shops on the European Side of Istanbul under the first 11 titles. On the other hand, in the last 4 titles, there are the famous doner shops on the Asian side of Istanbul.
1. Karadeniz Doner
Karadeniz Doner is located in Besiktas and it’s among the prominent restaurants in Istanbul. Many people all over Istanbul flock into this restaurant and you can often see a long queue in front of the shop. Despite its huge popularity and high number of customers, Karadeniz Doner maintains its standards.
Doner at Karadeniz Doner is a special one. A little lamb meat is mixed with beef in doner. However, beef consists most of the doner here. The meat used in making doner is supplied from Balikesir and therefore, the taste of doner is always good at Karadeniz Doner.
Many people who happen to be at Besiktas Fish Market eat doner at Karadeniz Doner. Many national TV channels that broadcast shows about food and famous gourmets in Turkey regard Karadeniz Doner as one of the best doner kebab in Istanbul.
2. Kasap Osman
Kasap Osman is located in the Old Town on “Hocapasa Street”, where you can find great restaurants. Each of Istanbul’s most popular street foods such as kofte, doner kebab, pide, lahmacun and cag kebab are represented on this street.
Kasap Osman is the best doner restaurant in this street full of restaurants, each representing a different variety of Turkish cuisine. Doner at Kasap Osman is served with pilaf, tomato and chips on the side and the meat is specially chosen by the butcher himself.
Kasap Osman is an ideal place for lunch for the ones doing shopping at Spice Bazaar and the nearby area. If you visit Kasap Osman, you can relax in its garden and enjoy the traditional atmosphere of the Old City.
And Kasap Osman is only 5 minutes walk from Sirkeci Tram Station and Sirkeci Marmaray Station. If you want to come here from Sultanahmet, it will only take ten minutes to reach Kasap Osman on foot.
And finally, Hodjapasha Cultural Center, where the best dervish show in Istanbul is performed, is adjacent to the restaurants street where Kasap Osman is located. If you buy tickets to this show, you can have your dinner here.
3. Donerci Sahin Usta
Donerci Sahin Usta is located in another historical neighborhood, Beyazit. Both visitors and shopkeepers of the Grand Bazaar show great interest in this doner shop, which is very close to the Grand Bazaar.
Considering there are more than 3000 shops at Grand Bazaar, you can guess how many shopkeepers take a lunch break at the same time. Therefore, due to this high demand, Donerci Sahin Usta is busy almost every hour of the day.
Sahin Usta (Chef Sahin) is also mentioned in international travel guides as one of the best doner kebab places in Istanbul. Therefore, Donerci Sahin Usta attracts the attention of both foreigners and locals alike.
4. Donerci Sadik Usta
Donerci Sadik Usta is located in Aksaray, which is another historical neighborhood in Istanbul, and it is a great doner shop with its generous portion and delicious doner. At Donerci Sadik Usta, doner wrap is one of the most popular choices among doner lovers. Sandwich doner is served with tomatoes and peppers on the side. And doner is made of the mixture of lamb and beef.
Due to the rising interest of people in history via TV shows and books, the Istanbul Old City is attracting more and more visitors every day. Thus, everything traditional attracts more attention than ever. Doner kebab shops, one of the most important elements of a traditional diet culture, get their share too. By the way, you can reach Aksaray district, where Donerci Sadik Usta is located, in 10 minutes by tram from Sultanahmet.
5. Sedef Iskender
Sedef Iskender promises a great lunch for those visiting the historical monuments in Sultanahmet. Sedef Iskender (aka Sedef Bufe) is located just a few minutes walk from Sultanahmet Tram Station. You may find it next to Simit Cafe which is easier to recognize from the distance.
Sedef Bufe has been serving in the same place for a long time. It’s a well established doner kebab place in Sultanahmet with a good reputation. You can have your doner as a wrap or sandwich if you’d like a quick lunch. But I would recommend you to order the doner on a plate (there is 1 and 1,5 portion options). The sliced meat of a doner kebab is served with some chips, fresh vegetables and rice, so that it’s a perfect combination for a healthy lunch.
The name of the shop comes from Iskender Kebab, which is served with a special tomato sauce and yogurt. Iskender Kebab has Turkish pita at the bottom, doner kebab on top and yogurt on the side. Tomato sauce is added on top of the whole dish. As an insider, I prefer regular doner kebab because it has a more refined meat taste. But of course the decision is yours.
Sedef Iskender is the best restaurant you can eat doner kebab (Shawarma) in Sultanahmet. In order to go to Sedef, take Hagia Sophia behind you and climb the gentle slope along the tramway. On your left you will see places like Mc Donalds and Simit Cafe. You will see Sedef Iskender on your left after passing these places.
6. Meydan Ciftlik Doner
Meydan Ciftlik Doner is located in Besiktas, one of the transportation hubs between the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. Besiktas, which has a crowded bazaar every hour of the day, also has delicious doner kebab restaurants.
Unlike the restaurants we mentioned so far, Meydan Ciftlik Doner is famous for its chicken doner kebab. The best doner kebab shops in Istanbul usually make doner by mixing lamb and beef. On the other hand, Chicken doner has a unique taste. Since many Istanbulites can’t give up on both flavors, they order meat and chicken doner, mixed on the same plate.
As the shop is located in a central place, it’s highly popular and the take-away option is in high demand at Meydan Ciftlik Doner. This is because the shop is close to business centers in Besiktas. And if you are a football lover and want to watch a game at Besiktas Vodafone Arena, it’s one of the gathering places for the fans before a game starts. And you can order delicious kanafeh (a delicious local dessert) at Meydan Ciftlik Doner after your meal.
7. Munhasir Doner & Kebap
Munhasir Doner & Kebap has become one of the popular places for both local and foreign tourists in Istanbul. At Munhasir Doner & Kebap, you can go for doner wrap or doner in pita.
Additionally, if you have your doner on a plate, it’s served with sauce, pita and butter, which is served as iskender kebab. Moreover, you can also have local delicacies like salad and kibbeh at Munhasir Doner & Kebap.
Munhasir Restaurant is the best place you can eat doner kebab in Taksim. In order to reach this restaurant, you can walk along the Istiklal Street from Taksim Square and find it to your right after Madame Tussauds museum. If you are coming from the Galata Tower, you will find that the restaurant is next to the district’s landmarks such as Cicek Pasaji and Beyoglu Fish Market.
8. Zumrut Bufe
Zumrut Bufe is located in Eminonu, the liveliest place of Istanbul Old City. Tourists visiting Sultanahmet usually go to Eminonu neighborhood to make a great end of their day. Your travel in time will be unfinished before you go to Eminonu and do shopping at Spice Bazaar, which has become brand new thanks to the renovation carried out recently.
When you feel tired after visiting the impressive and colorful shops at Spice Bazaar, you can take a lunch break without having to go too far because Zumrut Bufe is right on the corner of Spice Bazaar’s Sirkeci Buyuk Postane (Grand Post Office) exit.
Both local and foreign tourists show huge interest in Zumrut Bufe as it’s one of the best places to eat doner in Istanbul. Doner is served with mashed potatoes on the side at Zumrut Bufe and doner wrap is the most popular choice among its customers.
9. Donerci Engin
Donerci Engin is located in Sishane, one of the most central points of Beyoglu. If you go to visit the Galata Tower, you can take a lunch break at this small doner shop on your way back to Taksim.
Sishane is the exact location of Donerci Engin and it has a different presentation of its doner, unlike its competitors. Doner at Donerci Engin is cooked in a wood fire in Bayburt (a city in eastern Turkey) style. Moreover, the amount of fat and salt in doner are balanced excellently here.
One-fifth of doner is lamb meat and the rest is beef meat at Donerci Engin. Moreover, salt, black pepper, pimento, and a little cinnamon are added to doner. Doner at Donerci Engin is served with french fries and pickles.
10. Heybet Doner
Heybet Doner is located in a place that is quite outside of Istanbul’s touristic spots. However, if you happen to be in Bahcesehir, you can try this hidden gem. Doner is cooked in a wood fire and a 30 kg doner is cooked at a time. Doner meat served at Heybet Doner is really delicious.
Onion with sumac, carrot and red cabbage salad, pepper and cucumber pickles are served for free at Heybet Doner and the wrap bread for doner is made here too.
11. Kardesler Lokantasi
Kardesler Lokantasi is famous not only for its doner kebab, but also for its traditional Turkish dishes. Kardesler Lokantasi, a chain restaurant in Istanbul, has branches in historical districts such as Fatih, Beyoglu and Uskudar.
Doner is served with a piece of tomato and pepper at Kardesler Lokantasi, which is a well-known place among doner lovers. Doner at Kardesler Lokantasi is made of lean beef meat only.
12. Tatar Salim
Tatar Salim is the right address for those looking for the best doner kebabs on the Asian side of Istanbul. Located in the Atasehir district of Istanbul, which is famous for its business centers and large hotels, the restaurant has recently opened another branch in Kadikoy, the tourist center of the Asian Side.
Tatar Salim is famous for its doner kebab and special dishes. Gourmet doner is served with drained lentils from Mardin (a city in southeastern Turkey), fresh shepherd salad, ayran and french fries at Tatar Salim.
The meat is supplied from Biga and Kesan towns mostly and it is marinated with special sauces and served daily. Tatar Salim produces its own traditional sour ayran believing “The best drink that goes with doner is ayran.” Water that is used to make ayran is supplied from Madran and the salt is supplied from the Eastern Anatolia region.
Tatar Salim has also dessert in its menu. Classical rice pudding without starch is cooked in a stone oven seasoned with stick vanilla. Overall, Tatar Salim is regarded as one of the best doner restaurants in Istanbul Asian Side.
13. Donerci Ali Usta
Donerci Ali Usta was opened in 2004 and doner is served in a pita sandwich, wrap, on top of pilaf or as iskender kebab. Donerci Ali Usta has 4 branches in Istanbul, which are Maltepe, Umraniye, Meydan Shopping Mall, Atasehir, and Sirinevler.
You can find lintels and ezogelin soup in Donerci Ali Usta’s menu and doner wrap and pita sandwich doner are the options for your little ones. If you like ayran, you can have special “Susurluk ayran” at Donerci Ali Usta.
14. Bayramoglu Doner
Bayramoglu Doner is located in Kavacik district of Beykoz, one of the districts on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. Bayramoglu Doner, which cooks doner on wood fire, is one of the flavor stops on the Asian side.
Doner is served with onion salad, shepherd salad, french fries, pepper pickles, and thin bread. You are recommended to have ezogelin soup as a starter before having doner, which is pinky and moderately fat.
15. Donerci Celal Usta
Donerci Celal Usta was opened in the center of Umraniye (A district on the Asian side of Istanbul) in 2007 and apart from doner on top of thin bread, you can go for sandwich and pita sandwich options too.
You can also find pilaf and Susurluk ayran (a very foamy type of yoghurt drink) in its menu as well as kanafeh and rice pudding. It was founded by Celal Koc who has been in the food business since 1975 and it serves its customers in its 8 branches, the last of which was opened in Kartal in 2015.
Best Doner Kebab in Istanbul by Serhat Engul