When visiting Istanbul you’ll taste amazing foods that will leave unforgettable memories on your palate. But ‘ocakbaşı’ restaurants are about more than just taste. Ocakbaşı restaurants are a unique tradition, originally from the eastern parts of Turkey. The word ‘Ocakbaşı’ is translated as ‘fireside’ and it is literally what it means. This is a special restaurant in which you sit by the grill where the chef is cooking special kebabs and meat varieties right in front of you. The mouth-watering smell of the meat cooking on sizzling coal will make you even more hungry (and will be absorbed by your clothes!) while you taste your cold starter dishes. Then these perfectly cooked meats will arrive on your plate directly from the grill. This a must-have experience and a great memory for every food lover.
Istanbul has lots of options when it comes to BBQ restaurants. Some of the Istanbul BBQ Houses are chic, modern and offer quality meat options from world cuisine. Other Istanbul BBQ places are the ‘ocakbaşı’ type where you can get a taste of how local meat lovers have their kebabs in their favourite restaurants.
Here are our top picks for Istanbul BBQ Houses:
1. Just BBQ
Just BBQ brings Texan cuisine to Istanbul. This new but already very popular Istanbul BBQ House is in Beşikta. It’s very popular and you should be ready for long queues of meat lovers all waiting for the famous briskets, ribs or special burgers, cooked slowly on cherry wood. For a sweet finish to your juicy meats, try their churros.
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2. Tok BBQ
Claiming to be the ‘first smokehouse in Turkey’ Tok BBQ’s first branch opened in Izmir. With their ever-growing popularity on the Agean coast, Tok BBQ could wait no longer to serve Istanbul meat-lovers. Now they have a buzzing place on the famous shopping street on the Asian side, Bagdat Avenue. This Istanbul BBQ House’s most special meat is, without doubt, their ‘pastrami’. These thin meat slices come from a chunk that has been smoked for 158 hours! Tok BBQ also has burger varieties and mixed meat platters for sharing.
3. Saltanat BBQ House
Saltanat BBQ House is not what it looks from its humble appearance from outside. You might easily skip it due to the high number of similar-looking restaurants in Sultanahmet, but don’t make that mistake. Their friendly staff and warm service make their kebabs and other meals even more unforgettable. They serve all kebab varieties but their Ali Nazik (the one that comes with the roasted eggplant) is the most famous and most delicious.
4. Kucukoglu Barbecue Restaurant
Not far from the Topkapi Palace, this Istanbul BBQ House is a fan-favourite thanks to its top-notch service and delicious kebab options. From good old doner to spicy Adana, you won’t regret the choice you’ve made. Along with Turkish kebabs, you can also try varieties from Ottoman cuisine.
5. Kirmizi Barbecue
Kirmizi Barbecue is a bit of a trek from the tourist parts of the city and is located on the seaside at Maltepe. What makes Kirmizi Barbecue so special? You have your very own grill in the middle of your table! So you can play chef and cook your meat for yourself. It’s true that Istanbul is a huge city and there are some great places that you can easily miss on your own. Check out the best Istanbul plans designed by locals on Tripster to ensure that you make the most of your Istanbul trip.
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6. Barbecue House
If you want to have a tasty finale to your tourist day in the Sultanahmet area, Saltanat BBQ House is the place for you! Serving all kinds of traditional Turkish kebabs in an old-school atmosphere, this BBQ house will leave your taste buds happy. You can try the kebab with pistachios or Ali Nazik kebab which is served with eggplant. If you can’t decide, go for the mixed kebab and try all their specialties on one plate!
7. Zübeyir Ocakbaşı
Zübeyir Ocakbaşı has been a very well-known BBQ house in Beyoglu since 2006. Their meats are expertly marinated then perfectly cooked on the big grill inside the restaurant. The most special kebab that you can try there is the finely chopped lamb shish. The roasted aubergine also stands out with its smokey taste. Another important aspect of Zübeyir is its very loyal clientele and its authentic atmosphere.
8. Ali Ocakbaşı
If you want the amazing views of Istanbul to accompany your BBQ house experience, you can choose any of the three restaurants of Ali Ocakbaşı without hesitation. All Gümüşuyu, Karaköy, and Kuruçeşme locations have stunning views over The Bosphorus and Istanbul. This classy BBQ house is very popular so be sure to make a reservation beforehand to ensure you get a table with a view. And remember it can be really crowded and you might find you’re very close to the people on the next table.
9. Peymane Ocakbaşı
This trendy Istanbul BBQ House is located in a renovated 5-story building, on a hip side street of Beyoglu. Peymane serves cold starters from different parts of Anatolia as well as many different kebab options straight from the grill. Their must-try specialties include lamb ribs and lamb skewers. Peymane is a ‘new generation’ type of meyhane, where you can sip your raki (local booze with anise) while listening to jazz melodies instead of traditional Turkish music.
10. Günaydın Kasap &Steakhouse
Günaydın Kasap & Steakhouse has its roots in a small butcher shop in Istanbul, Bostancı. These days they share their expertise in meat in this modern restaurant located at Şaşkınbakkal. Famous for their dry-aged meats, they serve various types of dry-aged steaks such as T-bone, New York or Rib-eye. If you prefer a burger, Günaydın won’t disappoint as they have many burger options as well. But remember that if you want to visit Günaydın Steakhouse you have to be ready to splurge a little bit.
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