Turkish cuisine is rich with variety and leaves the guest with much to choose from. Whether you like lamb, chicken, or beef, they have it here. Chefs can cook it on a stick, in a pot, on a grill, or on a spit. The choice is yours. Mix that with some vegetables and you are good to go!
Guests often ask, “What is the best thing on the menu? What should we order? Well, we have tasted many different dishes from east to west, and in our opinion, the best food is definitely found in the east. The food here has more flavor, comes with a variety of mezes (appetizers), and is beautifully presented to the diners.
In Cappadocia, there is a restaurant called “Dibek “ which we suggest you do not miss. There, you sit on traditional soft cushions and eat your dinner around a low table. A perfect place for conversation! They serve delicious home-style foods, and our favorite is the “Sac Tava” meat stew. Enjoy that with their local soup and perfect rice and you will not regret it!
That restaurant also has one very special dish, the “Testi Kebab” a stew cooked in a local clay pot that you have to order hours beforehand to ensure it is cooked to perfection. In fact, in many Cappadocian restaurants there are various types of dishes similar to this one. If you would like a unique experience, we suggest you do not miss testing one of these delicious Cappadocian clay pot stews!
In Gaziantep, you can try “Ali Nazik”, a local dish of doner meat served over an eggplant and yogurt mixture. Yum. Yum. You can also find the best Lahmahcun here, a type of Turkish pizza with a mixture of ground meat and spices served on thin bread. Don’t forget to finish your meal with fresh “Baklava” bought from “Güllüoglu”, a famous local baklava maker whose product is often copied in various towns around Turkey, but whose best product is found in Gaziantep with fresh local ingredients.
In Van, we suggest you try “Beyti Sarma”, a ground meat kebab wrapped in a thin bread, and finished in an oven. You can order it with or without cheese, but it is best served with tomato sauce and yogurt to spread over the top! If you are not up for all that bread, try “Kuzu Tandır”, slow roasted tender pieces of lamb usually served with rice and vegetables on the side. So rich in flavor and satisfying! If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, don’t miss some of the local “Guveç” or stews, cooked in various types of pans to create unique flavors.
Further north, in Erzurum, you can try “Cağ Kebab”, tender meat cooked on a horizontal spit. This is then served with fresh bread, salad, and onions to create a fabulous meal! Perhaps you would also enjoy the “Ocakbaşi” restaurants, where you can cook your meat on the grill right in front of you and to your own desired tenderness. This is a unique experience that allows you to be involved in the cooking process, something you may have missed during your travels.
Soup is never far away from you in Turkey. It is found on virtually every menu right across the country. These soups are quite delicious, whether its “Mercimek”, which blends lentils with various spices, “Ayran Aşı”, which blends yogurt with broth and special seasonal greens, “Tavuk “ which is basically a rich chicken broth, or any of the other unique local varieties. They are accompanied with a full loaf of bread, just in case the soup is not filling enough, and are quite good for a quick lunch stop.
As you can see, Turkey has quite a meat-based cuisine, and can be a challenge for vegetarians. However, we hope this will help you as you think about what you will eat on your travels in Eastern Turkey. We invite you to come and sample some of these dishes with us. We would love to give your taste buds a holiday they will not forget!
Near East Tours Owner