It’s clearly lunacy to come to Turkey and not eat baklava but if you’re time-stretched and can do only one sweet stop, make it this highly repped patisserie opposite the Ataturk House & Museum in the city’s Kaleiçi district. The coffee is good and there’s a broad range of pastries here but if the French-style fancies don’t impress, local delights like sutlac (baked rice pudding) and lokma (fried dough) definitely will.
Haşimişcan Mah. Fevzi Çakmak Cd. Uluç Apt 7/1A, Kaleiçi
Can Can Pide Yemek Salonu
Okay, it’s not much of a looker, but don’t let that put you off: this small, unsplashy canteen round the corner from Hadrian Castle Gate in the city’s Kaleiçi district makes a quick, satisfying lunch stop for the penny-wise. All the local staples are on the menu but the rich güveç (stews) are particularly good. A feast for two here will usually come in at under €10 – it's a no brainer.
H. İşcan Mah Arık Cad Akkaşoğlu Apt 4/A, Kaleiçi
Right at the other end of the style spectrum, this smart balıkevi (fish restaurant) with sea views is where Antalya’s well-heeled come to tie the knot, so the restaurant has the suitably chic, white-on-white, wedding-venue vibe. The menu is 'international' which means it tries to cover all base,s but stick to the seafood dishes and you can’t really go wrong. Book ahead for a table at Golden Hour.
İskele Caddesi 75, Kaleiçi Marina
Popular with Antalya’s mover-shaker set, this is likely the city’s most famous restaurant, not just for its fantastic food but, wow, that vista. Up on a hill, it’s a bit of a trip out of town but a table with a sweeping view of Konyaaltı Beach is the pay-off. Despite the fancy setting, it’s safe to come hungry: the food is straight-up Turkish so expect slightly poshed-up classics that still satisfy. Plus the prices aren't too bad for somewhere this dressy.
Meltem Mahallesi, Atatürk Kültür Parkı, Dumlupınar Bulvarı 201
A restaurant with live folk music might immediately sound like a set-up for a tourist trap, but we promise Hasan Ağa is not that. Instead, this delightful, retro-rustic eatery near Hadrian’s Gate in the Kaleiçi district is a do-as-locals-do night out that combines cheap, unadorned Turkish cooking – think salad, bread and pirzola (grilled lamb) – in a citrus-covered garden at the back and traditional song from 8pm. You can expect competition for the best tables so book ahead.
Barbaros, Mescit Sk, No 15, Kaleiçi
Set in a gorgeous 300-year-old Ottoman mansion, this place styles itself as a fine-dining restaurant and while that’s not totally wide of the mark don’t expect itty-bitty tweezer food. This is a proper meal albeit beautifully presented. The menu is clearly designed to give Antalya’s upper-crust a break from Turkish cooking and, hey, if you’ve overloaded on lahmacun (minced-meat pizza), where’s the shame in a properly cooked rib-eye?
Tuvana Hotel, Karanlık Sokak 18, Kaleiçi
A beautiful garden-café in the centre of town popular with a young, fashion-conscious crowd that comes to just hang and pick from a pretty epic menu of trendy international fare: everything from Chinese-style bao to avocado-eggs via Insta-baiting bubble-teas and desserts. Not an education in trad-Turkish cooking but a reliably buzzy, in-out people-watcher for cocktail hour.
Barbaros, Antalya Lisesi Karşısı, Atatürk Cd, No 44
Set on a lively – if slightly chintzy – strip of restaurants on so-called Şemsiye Sokak (Umbrella Street – make sure to look up) this trusted, nothing-fancy old-timer has a number of tables outdoors and does filling, no-nonsense Turkish soul-food: classic, char-grilled meat skewers as well as lahmacun (minced-meat pizza) and a decent range of güveç (stews). The more-is-more eating ethos applies here: come hungry. Open until 2am.
Tuzcular, İmaret Sk. No 20
Turkey is known for its epic breakfasts and for good reason: they’re huge. For the unsparing mezze-style morning meal with the added bonus of sea views, this attractive, all-day restaurant with views of Kaleiçi Bay and the Taurus Mountains leaves little to nothing to complain about. Especially when it includes access to tiny Mermerli Bay; bring a swimming costume and a beach read and make a day of it.
Selçuk Mah İskele Cad. Banyo Sokak, Uzun Çarşı Sk. D, No 25, Kaleiçi
If it’s all starting to sound uncomfortably meaty then allow this warm, friendly Kaleiçi refuge for non-carnivores to step in. For whatever reason, it stops short of calling itself a vegan restaurant but most of the menu leans that way including its widely raved-about range of jazzed-up falafel wraps (the best in town, apparently) and the pleasingly creative plates of hummus and tahini.
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