Think about a city that has a huge reputation for being the capital of two powerful Empires, connecting two continents and hosting many ethnicities.
Yes, I am talking about Istanbul. Every inch of this city tells the story of another era, and keeps the memories of its past inhabitants alive. This is why each street and neighborhood have different cuisines to offer.
As a local, I love making suggestions to travellers and friends alike about sustainable restaurants in Istanbul. I believe it’s possible to enjoy Istanbul’s delicious offerings in an eco-friendly way. Luckily, I am not the only one!
Here are the top six eco-friendly places to eat in Istanbul:
#1 Çiya, Kadıköy
Musa Dağdeviren’s masterpiece Çiya is one of the most unique places in Istanbul where it’s possible to eat authentic food and not worry about the ingredients’ source. You might have already been introduced to him on Netflix’s Chef’s Table. He is known as Turkey’s food anthropologist, who travels through Turkey’s many regions and tries to keep old regionals alive.
He personally picks every product from each region’s farmers. When you eat the hot pepper dolma, you taste the southeastern part of Turkey, when you eat an Aegean salad it smells like the Aegean sea. The different tastes of each region is waiting for you on a plate.
What to eat: If you are vegetarian or vegan, you won’t find Vegan Lahmacun anywhere else and it’s essential to try that before leaving Turkey. Çiya’s buffet of mezes changes with the seasons, so check out for yourself and feast your eyes, then your tummy. Fill your plate with joy and a lot of healthy Turkish recipes.
#2 Yuzu, Moda
Yuzu is the first fully vegan Asian restaurant in Turkey. They serve food for any occasion, whether it’s a quick bite or a celebratory dinner. Each of their recipes is made with great quality ingredients and they even show meat eaters that vegan food can be fun too.
What to eat: THE WHOLE MENU! Just kidding! If you are travelling with friends, this place is the best. Go with 4-5 people so you can share a few dishes. Their mushroom dish is my personal favorite. Also, their vegan California roll is worth a try. If you want to convince someone that vegan food is delicious too, this is the place.
#3 Bir Nevi Deli, Teşvikiye
Bir Nevi Deli is the self-described “creative plant-based kitchen” of Istanbul.
Their menu can make those who follow different diets happy; such as plant-based, whole food, raw, paleo diet, vegan, and vegetarian. They also experiment with classic Turkish recipes and have their own take on international cuisine as well.
What to eat: Their seitan or falafel burger is mouth-watering. Also, their quiche section is quite creative. From mezes to burgers, everything I tasted in this restaurant is super duper tasty.
#4 Po Juicery, Moda
This plastic-free juicery is great for those who get tired from strolling around and need an energy boost. The variety of choice might catch you off guard, but you’ll definitely enjoy whatever you choose. Po Juicery is proof that fruit and veg can give you superpowers because you won’t want to stop walking after you eat here. So after your meal, enjoy a walk in the calm neighbourhood of Moda.
What to eat: Nosferatu is my favourite out of all. If you are hungover, try Ginger shot to refresh yourself. Also, their weekly soup is a must-try. You can choose your main course depending on your diet, everything has a vegan version. Their plates with sweet potato are incredibly yummy.
image credit: Ann Nguyen/Unsplash
#5 Veganarsist, Nişantaşı
Since they started their journey in 2018, Veganarsist grew their space every year. Their mission is to prove that it’s possible to cook the vegan version of any dish. They also sell their ingredients like soy meat or vegan kokoreç for you to recreate their dishes at home.
What to eat: Their burgers are the best in town. They use creative ingredient combinations to surprise you. Their desserts are on the healthier side whilst still being really tasty.
#6 Baby Green, Maslak
Although Baby Green is in the corporate centre of Istanbul, it provides healthy options to those who are in the hustle and bustle. They have a salad, pasta, and wrap bar for you to customise your perfect dish. They are a plastic-free, takeaway shop with vegan and veggie options.
What to eat: It’s so confusing! My top three is falafel salad, lentil and avocado salad, and super bowl. They make the most delicious broccoli dish (it’s unbelievable, I know).
I know all this talk about food must have made you hungry! So when in Istanbul, don’t miss out on trying these sustainable places to eat. Let us know in the comments if you have any more suggestions!