Most of today’s luxury districts of Istanbul were fishing villages until the 19th century. Fishing was one of the most important occupations of the city during the Ancient Greek, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Today, this tradition still continues and the best fish restaurants in Istanbul are located in districts that had existed as fishing villages for centuries.
There are delicious seafood restaurants in districts such as Besiktas (Ortakoy, Arnavutkoy, Bebek), Sariyer (Rumeli Hisari, Istinye, Tarabya), Uskudar (Beylerbeyi, Cengelkoy) and Beykoz, which are located on the shores of the Bosphorus in Istanbul. In this article, you can find the most delicious fish restaurants located on both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.
Best Fish Restaurants in Istanbul
The list of the best fish restaurants in Istanbul has 20 titles. Most of these restaurants have been around for years. However, you can also see some new generation restaurants in between. I wanted to add some promising restaurants that have received positive reviews on local food forums.
In the list you can find the best fish restaurants on the European Side (between 1 and 13) and the Asian Side (between 14 and 20) in Istanbul. I hope you can find a fish restaurant that suits your taste.
1. Sur Balik
Sur Balik was opened in Arnavutkoy (Bosphorus) in 2004 and achieved great success in a short time. The restaurant, which attaches great importance to customer satisfaction and product quality, now serves with four branches.
Sur Balik has a rich menu with such delicacies as fish in dough, fish wrapped with chard, sea bass served with mustard sauce and many other top quality seafood and fish choices. You can taste these fish dishes accompanied by a magnificent Bosphorus view at the branch of Sur Balık in Arnavutkoy.
Sur Balık also has branches in Sarayburnu (near Sultanahmet), Cihangir (near Taksim) and Golden Horn, in addition to Arnavutkoy.
2. Balikci Sabahattin
Balikci Sabahattin seafood restaurant is an old family business. As the fame of the restaurant spread, the restaurant moved to an old building constructed in 1927 after it was renovated by Armada Hotel at Cankurtaran (near Sultanahmet).
Balikci Sabahattin is an expert in Turkish mezes and in its special menu, you can have mussel pilaf, crunchy fried zucchini, and roasted anglerfish. Balikci Sabahattin is very close to Kumkapi, Istanbul’s most important fish market, and always has fresh fish.
Balikci Sabahattin is known not only as the best fish restaurant of Sultanahmet but also in the Old City of Istanbul. Lonely Planet also recommends this seafood restaurant. Sabahattin is only a few minutes walk from the Four Seasons, the most popular 5-star hotel in Sultanahmet.
Palukcu is located at Capa-Sehremini, one of Istanbul’s oldest neighborhoods. Palukcu offers a wide range of dishes like boneless anchovy, saurel, sea bass, sea bream, salmon, mullet, bluefish and around 20 more fish choices as well as calamari, shrimp, and mussel.
Compared to famous fish restaurants at the Bosphorus, Palukcu can be described as a hovel, but you can still enjoy grilled anchovy sandwich or mackerel at Palukcu. Moreover, you can bring your fish from outside, have it cooked at Palukcu and enjoy it at your home.
Palukcu offers its guests a sea-themed atmosphere decorated with fishing nets and bluish furniture. In this environment, you can eat anchovy spring rolls, steamed bonito, marinated sea bass and sea bream or sea bass casseroles. You can end your meal with an oven-baked halva dessert that goes very well on fish.
You can reach the Capa-Sehremini district, where Palukcu is located, by tram from Sirkeci, Sultanahmet and Beyazit, which are the accommodation centers of Istanbul Old City.
4. Eleos Restaurant
Eleos Restaurant is located in Beyoglu (close to Taksim Square) and makes its visitors feel in the Aegean with its blue tablecloths and atmosphere.
Eleos Restaurant has been numerously awarded as the best meyhane in Istanbul, the best fish restaurant in Istanbul and the best Greek tavern in Istanbul with its elegant presentation of the starters and many other delicious choices.
If you love eating fish, you should definitely try Eleos Restaurant. Artichoke hearts, hummus, barbunya pilaki (borlotti beans in olive oil), calamari salad are classical choices and they are prepared specially at Eleos Restaurant.
Eleos Restaurant stands out as the best fish restaurant in Beyoglu (Taksim). While enjoying your delicious appetizers at the colorful tables of the restaurant, you can watch the Bosphorus view.
5. Mavi Balik
Mavi Balik was known by the name Mavi Yesil (means Blue Green) in 1995. The restaurant, which has the blue waters of the Bosphorus in front and the green hills of Istanbul behind it, became famous for the delicious food it served.
The restaurant’s name changed to Mavi Balik (Blue Fish) in the 2000s. Located in Ortakoy (next to the city’s most famous nightclubs) the restaurant stands out among the best fish restaurants in Istanbul with its master chefs and extensive fish menu.
6. Adem Baba
Adem Baba started his business on a small boat in Bebek in the early 90s. Serving fresh fish on the boat to his guests, Adem Baba soon became the symbol of the district.
After opening a small restaurant with five tables and continuing to serve there, Adem Baba moved to its new location in 1998 under the name “Adem Baba Fish Restaurant”.
Adem Baba, a non-alcoholic fish restaurant, restored an old Greek house and opened a second branch in Arnavutkoy to meet the interest it received from its customers.
Adem Baba, which has become the most famous fish restaurant in Arnavutkoy over time, has a wide fish menu. Here you can try turbot, silverfish, salmon and anchovy varieties.
7. Park Fora
Park Fora is a fish restaurant serving in Kurucesme district since 1996. Located in one of the most beautiful spots of the Bosphorus, the restaurant promises its guests a magnificent view and a spacious environment.
You can start your meal at Park Fora with a delicious salad mixed with Aegean herbs. You can eat bonito, bluefish and turbot, depending on the season, in the restaurant, which has a rich menu of cold and hot appetizers. Apart from these fish identified with Istanbul, you can also choose octopus and squid.
Park Fora also has a very rich dessert menu. You can crown your meal with fig dessert, pumpkin dessert, quince dessert or baked halva, which are among the best examples of Turkish desserts.
8. Eftalya Balik
Eftalya Balik first opened in Arnavutkoy on the Bosphorus shore and later opened another branch in Saskinbakkal (Asian Side). The restaurant, which has many years of experience, welcomes its guests with the motto of “delicious food, hospitality and elegance”.
Eftalya Balik is run by 5 partners, who previously served as chefs in Istanbul’s best fish restaurants. Fish soup as a starter, grilled fish balls served with soy-garlic sauce, seafood crepe, and stuffed calamari are some of the specialties you can try at Eftalya Balik.
Besides classical Turkish desserts that accompany fish, you can also enjoy homemade baklava in its menu if you are a dessert lover. Eftalya’s menu also includes grilled meat options for those who do not like seafood.
9. Bebek Balikcisi
Bebek Balikcisi is one of the first places that comes to mind when you think of a fish restaurant with Bosphorus view. Serving in Bebek since 1974, the restaurant constantly renews its menu, on the other hand, it tries to make its guests experience the Old Istanbul with its nostalgic atmosphere.
At Bebek Balikcisi, you can enjoy unique tastes, such as Armenian bean salad, Cretan paste, fish bacon, topik, tabbouleh, octopus, carpaccio, and balik begendi (sauteed fish on a bed of creamy roasted eggplant puree).
10. Iskele Restaurant
Iskele Restaurant was established in 1992 by restoring the old Rumeli Hisari Ferry Port. The platform, which rises on piles driven into the sea and where ferries used to drop passengers, is now the main venue of the restaurant with its seafront location.
During the beautiful spring and summer days, the window on the sea-facing facade of the restaurant opens and the place integrates with the sea, creating a magnificent atmosphere.
The fame of Iskele Restaurant comes from its delicious appetizers and delicious dishes prepared from seasonal fish. Among the specialties of the restaurant are dishes such as steamed sea bass in creamy mushroom sauce and sea bass in salt. As a hot starter, you can try delicacies such as fish balls and roasted anglerfish.
The dessert menu of the restaurant is also quite rich. After the fish, you can try traditional Turkish desserts such as ekmek kadayifi (crumpets in thick syrup), sekerpare (baked soft pastry dipped in thick syrup), quince dessert or baklava.
11. Set Balik
Set Balik is run by a family that has been in the restaurant business for 3 generations. The adventure, which started as a garden restaurant called “Nuzhet’in Yeri” in 1967, continued as a fish restaurant in Kirecburnu (in Sariyer).
In the 70s and 80s, Set Balık, which added special flavors such as lop kalkan (turbot) and balik boregi (fish pastry) to its menu, has become one of the best fish restaurants in Istanbul over time.
Set Balık is run by Ferda Iseri, who took over the business from his father at an early age. Set Balık strives to follow modern kitchen trends while preserving traditional flavors.
In Set Balik, located in Tarabya, you can taste unique delicacies such as fish pizza, midye pilaki (special mussel dish) as well as main courses consisting of fresh fish.
12. Balikci Kahraman
Balikci Kahraman is acknowledged as a great fish restaurant both nationally and internationally with its top-notch food quality and service.
Balikci Kahraman adds a different flavor by cooking turbot in the tandoor. You have to go to Rumeli Kavagi to taste the breaded fish, stewed shrimp and special turbot fish of Balikci Kahraman.
It should also be noted that Rumeli Kavagi is located quite north of the Bosphorus. Although the restaurant is a bit far from the touristic centers of Istanbul, it is worth it considering the quality of the food.
13. Kiyi Restaurant
Kiyi Restaurant is one of Istanbul’s nice authentic restaurants. The restaurant was opened in 1964 and has been a popular one among seafood enthusiasts with its traditional fish dishes, hot and cold starters.
Kiyi Restaurant welcomes its guests with a nostalgic atmosphere in the hall decorated with wooden panel decorations and a collection of photographs and paintings created by Turkish artists.
Even if you are not a fish lover, you can still dine at Kiyi Restaurant, as you can find such meat dishes as grilled meatballs and sirloin. However, if you are a seafood lover, you will definitely find something to your taste.
14. Misina Balik
Misina Balik stands out as a great fish restaurant with its special recipes. You can taste some unique delicacies like Misina eggplant roll, octopus crepe only at Misina Balik.
If you love appetizers, a wide range of choices from Crete, Greek and Aegean kitchens will definitely leave you satisfied. The atmosphere of Misina Balik is also unique thanks to its garden among pine trees of ages old, but if you wish, you can dine at its indoor area too.
Misina Balik is one of the few restaurants in Istanbul where you can taste goose leg, Misina fish kebab, artichoke salad, and Aegean herby fish. Whether you are an old customer or it’s your first time, you are most welcomed at Misina Balik.
15. Cibalikapi Balikcisi
Cibalikapi Balikcisi is one of the few places left where you can enjoy the atmosphere of a Turkish meyhane culture. The restaurant is located at Historical Moda Pier and the owner of the restaurant opened his place after 18 years of working as a journalist.
Cibalikapi Balikcisi is located in the Moda quarter of Kadikoy, the most popular district of the Asian side. In its rich menu, you can find fresh fish and appetizers. Fish salad, fish roe, dried tomato roll, grilled mussels with cheese, hot and cold appetizers are the elements of the rich menu at Cibalikapi Balikcisi.
If you wish to cook the food in its menu, Cibalkapi Balikcisi released a book both in Turkish and English in which they shared the recipes in its menu. There are 130 different recipes in the book that was published on the tenth anniversary of the restaurant.
16. Ismet Baba Restaurant
Ismet Baba Restaurant has been welcoming its customers since 1982 in a building that once served as a waterside club. Ismet Baba known as one of the best fish restaurants in Istanbul since then.
Ismet Baba Restaurant is located in Kuzguncuk, one of the most special districts of the Asian Side of the Bosphorus. Kuzguncuk, one of the most cosmopolitan districts of Ottoman-era Istanbul, is a place where mosques, synagogues and churches are side by side.
Ismet Baba Restaurant is currently run by the third generation of the family. At this restaurant, you can enjoy the Bosphorus view while tasting wonderful Turkish appetizers.
In addition to the fresh fish menu, the restaurant offers authentic delicacies like fish pastrami. Apart from seafood, you can also find broad bean, stuffed grape leaves and variety of cold starters at Ismet Baba Restaurant.
17. Villa Bosphorus
Villa Bosphorus is located in the Beylerbeyi district of the Asian Side. The restaurant, which is adjacent to Beylerbeyi Palace, also has a magnificent sea view with the Bosphorus Bridge in the background.
Villa Boshorus draws attention with its elegance and a large restaurant with winter and summer gardens, VIP lounge and fireplace room. Villa Bosphorus is one of the best fish restaurants on the Asian Side, serving fish plates prepared with special recipes accompanied by seasonal fruits and delicious hot starters.
18. Del Mare
Del Mare is located in one of the most beautiful places on the shores of the Bosphorus. The structure that the restaurant serves has a history of 200 years. The building, which was used as the “Elephant Barn” in the 1800s, was converted into a spirit factory by adding a chimney in the 1900s.
Del Mare was restored to its original form after a long process and today it attracts attention as a 3-storey stone building. Del Mare, which immediately attracts the attention of those who take a boat tour on the Bosphorus, is a fish restaurant that stands out with the richness of its a la carte menu.
Del Mare is located in Cengelkoy, one of the most beautiful districts on the Asian side of Istanbul. After dinner, you can go for a walk in this district, where many Turkish TV series and movies have been shot.
19. Balikci Abdullah
Balikci Abdullah draws attention with its menu that includes all kinds of fish. The restaurant, which is on the list of the best fish restaurants in Istanbul by the famous gourmet Vedat Milor, is located in Beykoz.
Balikci Abdullah is located in the northern part of the Asian side of the Bosphorus. However, it is not difficult to reach the restaurant from the European side. Every evening at 19:00, a boat departing from the coast of Istinye (Sariyer district on the European side) brings customers to the restaurant.
20. Tuzla Balikcisi
Tuzla Balikcisi was already a famous fish restaurant well known to those living on the Asian side. The fame of Tuzla Balikcisi, which stands out with grilled umbra, sauteed calamari and salmon with soy sauce, has now spread all over Istanbul.
The restaurant, which has delicious appetizers such as sauteed swordfish, shrimp skewers, sauteed calamari, anchovy pilaf, fish pastry and roasted anglerfish, is one of the must-go fish restaurants in Istanbul, even though it is not located on the Bosphorus shore.
Best Fish Restaurants in Istanbul by Serhat Engul