Kokorec is among the most popular fast foods in Istanbul. However, what distinguishes kokorec from similar dishes such as doner and lahmacun is that it is a food identified with nightlife. For this reason, the best places to eat kokorec in Istanbul are usually found in districts where life continues at night.
There are two versions of kokorec: Istanbul style and Izmir style. Izmir style kokorec is sliced after it’s grilled but it is not chopped. Instead, the meat is cut into small pieces with a knife. Istanbul style kokorec, on the other hand, is chopped thoroughly and mixed with tomato.
Best Places to Eat Kokorec in Istanbul
The best places to eat kokorec in Istanbul are usually found in the historical places of the city. There are delicious kokorec shops in districts such as Eminonu (near Sultanahmet), Beyoglu (near Taksim Square), Ortakoy, Kadikoy and Uskudar.
In this article, you can find the best kokorec places on the European side of Istanbul under the first 7 titles. On the other hand, in the last 6 titles, there are the best kokorec places on the Asian side.
1. Sampiyon Kokorec
Sampiyon Kokorec is the symbol of kokorec in Beyoglu and it still welcomes its regular and new customers in its place at Fish Market. Sampiyon Kokorec has numerous branches all over Istanbul and it aims at opening more branches as part of its network growth strategy.
The story of Sampiyon Kokorec dates back to 1962 when a small shop at Beyoglu Fish Market was opened by two brothers and Sampiyon Kokorec still maintains high quality in its every branch.
Kokorec is cooked on specially designed grills that distribute the heat evenly and no extra fat is added to meat here. However, a special spice mixture is added to meat at Sampiyon Kokorec.
In addition to kokorec, you can find Turkish sausage sandwich, mackerel, kelle paca (sheep’s head and foot soup), intestines, stuffed and fried mussels, and lentil soup. You can find Sampiyon Kokorec at the fish market on Istiklal Street in Beyoglu. (next to Cicek Passage)
2. Mercan Kokorec
Mercan Kokorec opened its first branch in 1960 in Buyukada (Princes’ Islands), a popular tourist destination today. Mercan Kokorec has been so successful that its branches have spread all over Istanbul, but the most visited kokorec shop is the one in Beyoglu Fish Market.
Mercan Kokorec’s menu includes delicious kokorec options and stuffed mussels. Mercan Kokorec has added fresh fish options to its menu lately and it is one of the most popular kokorec places in Beyoglu (aka Taksim), Istanbul.
Both Mercan and Sampiyon kokorec places are located in the historical Beyoglu Fish Market. You can see the Fish Market on your right as you walk from Taksim Square towards Galata Tower (on the Istiklal Street).
3. Ozzie’s Kokorec
Ozzie’s Kokorec has been serving since 1968 in Beyoglu, near Asmali Mescit, famous for its taverns. When you are at Ozzie’s Kokorec, you can watch your meal being cooked before your eyes.
Kokorec and sweetbread meet here and you can have it as 2 or 3 rings portion. Moreover, in addition to kokorec, you can find special Turkish sausage and hot dog in Ozzie’s Kokorec’s menu.
4. Ozen Kokorec
Ozen Kokorec is located on Dereboyu Street, right across Ortakoy’s famous waffle and kumpir (baked potato with fillings) shops. It was opened in 1972 and has been in service since then. Apart from kokorec cooked on a grill, you can have kumru (Turkish sandwich with tomato, cheese and sausage), meatballs, stuffed mussel, and fried mussel.
Ozen Kokorec is located in Ortakoy, one of the most beautiful districts of the Bosphorus shores. Ortakoy is a place where Istanbul’s most luxurious hotels and nightclubs are located.
On the other hand, you don’t have to go to these luxury establishments to enjoy Ortakoy. You can take your sandwich from Ozen Kokorec, one of the best places to eat kokorec in Istanbul, and eat it in Ortakoy Square while watching the Bosphorus view.
5. Kral Kokorec
Kral Kokorec is located in Eminonu and it stands out as the best kokorec place in the Istanbul Old City. You can have Izmir style kokorec at Kral Kokorec, which has become famous for its delicious kokorec.
Kral Kokorec is located on the street leading from the iconic Great Post Office building in Sirkeci to Spice Bazaar. On this street, you can see not only kokorec but also shops serving delicious doner kebab.
6. Gala Kokorec
Gala Kokorec was founded by someone who started his career as a hawker in Eminonu, one of the most vibrant districts of Istanbul, and today it has become a kokorec restaurant chain with 14 branches. Although Gala Kokorec has branches in districts such as Besiktas and Uskudar, the most popular one is the shop in Eminonu.
Gala Kokorec is located on the same street as the previous Kral Kokorec. Neighboring the very distinctive Great Post Office building, Gala Kokorec is the best place to eat kokorec around Sultanahmet.
Sultanahmet is a place famous for its historical monuments such as Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. However, to find the best street food places in Istanbul, you need to go to Sirkeci and Eminonu, which are 10 minutes from Sultanahmet.
7. Kokorecciler Krali Zulfu Usta
Kokorecciler Krali Zulfu Usta is located at the entrance of Mercan Yokusu in Beyazit and you can often see kokorec lovers queuing up outside the shop. If you wish to have a quick bite while standing, you should definitely visit Kokorecciler Krali Zulfu Usta.
Despite long queues outside its shop, Kokorecciler Krali Zulfu Usta is quick at preparing orders. Here, kokorec is cooked on a wood fire and it’s served with tomato and pepper in a sandwich.
Kokorecciler Krali Zulfu Usta is located in Beyazit district, where Istanbul’s hidden flavors are located. This district, in which the Grand Bazaar is located, is also home to the famous doner kebab shop “Donerci Sahin Usta” as well as “Gaziantep Burc Ocakbasi”, one of the best Turkish kebab restaurants in Istanbul.
8. Reks Bufe
Reks Bufe is located in Kadikoy, which is the most touristic district of the Asian side. Kokorec is usually served as a sandwich in half or quarter loaf of bread. However, Reks Bufe goes a little beyond the tradition and serves kokorec in a casserole or wrapped in lavash bread.
At the beginning of the article, I mentioned that kokorec is a food that is associated with nightlife in Istanbul. Reks Bufe is also located next to Kadife Street in Kadikoy, which is famous for its bars.
9. Gunes Kokorec
Gunes Kokorec is the place for both delicious and mild lamb kokorec and it’s located in Uskudar. Gunes Kokorec was opened nearby inter-city bus offices in Uskudar and has been there since 1974.
Gunes Kokorec is a small and shabby place where kokorec is served in bread toasted on the grill. This place is one of the place that boasts regular customers. It’s at the same time one of the best kokorec places on the Asian side of Istanbul.
10. Cengelkoy Kokoreccisi
Cengelkoy Kokoreccisi is one of the most famous kokorec places in Istanbul and you can see a queue outside the shop at any time of the day. This place draws attention with its hygiene and delicious kokorec.
Cengelkoy Kokoreccisi was opened in 2007 and it brings kokorec from Balikesir and Izmir. Moreover, the thyme used at Cengelkoy Kokoreccisi is brought from Canakkale, while the pepper is brought from Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep.
Kokorec is cooked in oak coal and it’s served in bread cooked in a stone oven. You can also have stuffed mussel at Cengelkoy Kokoreccisi. This place has only one branch in order to maintain its high service and food quality.
Kokoretto is located in Kadikoy and if you wish, you can go for Izmir style kokorec here. Apart from sandwich, you can also have your kokorec served on a plate. Additionally, burgers are included in Kokretto’s menu.
You should note that Kokoretto is very busy daytime and the shop is closed at 8 p.m. Kokoretto is one of the places that foreign tourists show high interest. Therefore, it’s common to come across the images from Kokoretto on international blog sites. Thanks to its fame both in Turkey and abroad, Kokoretto stands out as one of the best kokorec places in Kadikoy, Istanbul.
12. Kokorecci Adem Usta
Kokorecci Adem Usta is located next to the Kadikoy Ferry Port, which is the busiest spot on the Asian Side of Istanbul. Kokorecci Adem Usta is one of the rare places where you can eat really delicious Izmir style kokorec and it offers quarter and half sandwich, wrap kokorec or kokorec on a plate.
In order to get to Kadikoy, you can go to Eminonu Ferry Terminal from Sultanahmet and cross the Bosphorus by ferry in 20 minutes. Likewise, you can walk to Karakoy Ferry Terminal from Taksim and reach Kadikoy in 20 minutes.
13. Beylerbeyi Pasa Kokorec Iskembe
Beylerbeyi Pasa Kokorec Iskembe is famous for thick tripe, trotter, and sheep brain soup and it’s located in Cengelkoy. In this place, kokorec is served as the main course and lamb kokorec is served in a casserole. It is served as chopped in big pieces with grilled pepper and tomato.
You can find any kind of giblets at Beylerbeyi Pasa Kokorec Iskembe, be it lamb brain salad, liver, sweetbread or kokorec. As you can tell from the menu, this place is not for everyone. But if you are a meat lover, you will love this place.
Beylerbeyi and Cengelkoy are two neighboring districts that tourists visiting Istanbul often miss. There are great Turkish restaurants in these districts, as well as historical monuments such as Beylerbeyi Palace.
Best Places to Eat Kokorec in Istanbul by Serhat Engul