Located just steps from the Egyptian Bazaar in Eminonu, Hamdi Restaurant isn't just a stop on the way to the bazaar but a destination itself.
Specializing in southeastern cuisines, it affords a magnificent view of the Golden Horn, the Galata Tower and Eminonu.
Since window-side tables are in high demand, making a reservation in advance is highly recommended.
A signature dish is the testi kebabi. Cooked over charcoal in a clay jug covered with dough for three to four hours, the dish is made with veal, tomatoes, onions, garlic, pepper, oregano, tomato paste and butter.
It's quite a ceremony to watch this extraordinary dish being served -- waiters break the jug in front of you to reveal the meal inside.
Another must is the hashas kebabi made with minced veal and lamb, and mixed with capsicum, salt and pepper.
Two kebab restaurants reign supreme in the southeastern city of Gaziantep: Kebapci Halil Usta and Imam Cagdas.
Open since 1972, Halil Usta is a humble establishment with a dedicated following.
Its tender meat has made such a name over the years that this lunch-only restaurant runs out of meat by 3 p.m. almost every day.
Most notable is kusleme, a velvety soft lamb kebab served in copper pots.
Although a side dish, the salad (greens, tomatoes, mint, thyme, red pepper, pomegranate molasses and spices) can stand proudly on its own.
Unlike Halil Usta, Imam Cagdas is large and modern.
Standout dishes include ali nazik -- lamb served on top of a bed of char-grilled yogurt-eggplant puree -- and alti ezmeli tike kebabi, a stew-like kebab made with lamb served on top of a tomato and pepper mash.
The restaurant's flaky, pistachio-filled baklava is as celebrated as its kebabs.
Kebapci Halil Usta | Mithat pasa Mah.Ocukoglu Sokak No: 6, Gaziantep Turkey | +90 342 323 16 16
What started out as a simple kebab shop in 1987 in Kadikoy has become one of the city's most revered culinary treasures.
Ciya's founder Musa Dagdeviren, who hails from Gaziantep and has generations of bakers' DNA running through him, went from preparing the best lahmacun to running three restaurants on the same block, two focusing on kebabs and one offering regional specialties mainly from the east.
Offering ever-changing seasonal dishes, Ciya's menu includes unique kebab varieties (some invented and others true to their original forms).
Ciya Kebap | Caferaga Mah Guneslibahce Sk No 32, Istanbul 48/B Kadiköy Turkey
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Ali Haydar (Istanbul)
Ali Haydar: A true Turkish tavern.
Located in a nostalgic square of the city in the once multi-ethnic neighborhood of Samatya, Ali Haydar is a true meyhane (Turkish tavern).
Offering delectable mezes like patlican salatasi (eggplant salad), saksuka (fried eggplant with tomatoes) and haydari (a yogurt-based dish with garlic), this down-to-earth venue steals the show with its juicy and tender kebabs.
You'll find the classic varieties here, from ali nazik to sarma beyti, but getting the mixed platter with urfa kebabi, fistikli kebap (with pistachios) and tavuk sis (chicken on skewers) makes things easier.
Raki is the drink of the hour while local musicians playing classical Turkish tavern music as they walk by is the performance of the night.
Ali Haydar Ikinci Bahar | Haci Huseyin Aga Mah. Samatya Meydani Gumus Yuksuk Sok. No:6 Samatya, Fatih, Istanbul Turkey
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Cercis Murat Konagi (Mardin)
Located in a traditional 19th-century konak (stone mansion), Cercis Murat Konagi offers authentic Mardin cuisine.
This mystical land has been home to a variety of different cultures over the centuries and this multicultural essence is evident in many aspects of Mardin, including its food.
Restaurant owner Ebru Baybara Demir's extensive research into the area's cuisine is reflected in the menu. Many native Turkish speakers would be unfamiliar with most of the meals and their names -- such as alluciye, incasiye and himmisiye -- which are all regional specialties worth trying.
The local kebab varieties, like kazan kebabi made with eggplant, minced beef, tomatoes, onions and other delicious ingredients, coupled with majestic views, make Cercis Murat Konagi a must-stop on the kebab trail.