Traditional Turkish food is rich and flavourful, mostly derived from Ottoman heritage. It’s a blend of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan influences, with recipes passed down through the generations. The fertile lands of the Aegean and Mediterranean coastlines produce bountiful vegetables and olive oil, which are thrown together to create freshly prepared meze. Locally caught fish and seafood appear on the menu of most Akyaka and Dalyan restaurants, with waiters reeling off the catch of the day. Here’s our guide of where to find the best traditional Turkish food on your Akyaka and Dalyan villa holiday.
An unassuming little restaurant in Dalyan, the family-run Köşk is a place where first-time diners quickly become regulars. The menu is filled with Turkish classics, including a superb kebab, while sides change with the seasons. All dishes are served with vegetables plucked from the onsite kitchen-garden.
Caretta Caretta, Dalyan
Meze is one of the most social dining occasions for feasting on traditional Turkish food. Tables are piled with small plates along with the likes of dolma (stuffed vine leaves), fava (mashed broad beans), köpoğlu (roasted eggplant), muhammara (spicy pepper dip). One of the most scenic Dalyan restaurants for meze is Caretta Caretta, whose outdoor terrace looks out over the beautifully carved Kings’ Tombs – illuminated at night.
The Aegean coast is famed for its fish and seafood, and tiny Yaliçapkini is one of the most tranquil Dalyan restaurants in which to feast on the bounty of the sea. Start with calamari, with a squeeze of fresh lemon, followed by local sea bream, served with salad in a pomegranate-infused olive oil dressing.
Halil In Yeri, Akyaka
Locals’ favourite, Halil In Yeri champions Akyaka’s emerging slow-food culture, rustling up excellent traditional Turkish food in the process. Expect the likes of stuffed pumpkin flowers and pickled sea beans – all made using olive oil and lemons from the restaurant’s own organic groves. For mains, pick from the wet fish counter, perhaps red mullet or sea bass, but save room for the divine halva.
Ayşe Ananin Yeri, Akyaka
A more recent food trend is the shift towards unassuming ev yemekleri (home-cooking) cafes, and away from fine dining (and its steep prices). In lower, a good option is Ayşe Ananin Yeri, which throws together simple stews and manti (Turkish ravioli).
Vira Vira, Akyaka
Wedged between mountains and waterways, Vira Vira is a low-key meyhane (tavern) for traditional Turkish food. Tables spill outside onto the deck, right to the water’s edge, where locals rub shoulders with in-the-know tourists over plates of fresh calamari and olive salad.
Olta Restaurant, Akyaka
Olta Restaurant tumbles outside onto a wooden terrace, jutting over the water. This riverside gem is rarely crowded because it’s under the radar of most tourists, but you will likely be sitting among a handful of Turkish regulars. The menu is packed with meze dishes and fresh fish.
Another favourite Dalyan restaurant, diners are greeted by piles of seafood on ice, freshly caught from local waters that day. Catch of the day may be sea bream, crab or king prawns – all cooked to order. The meat options are just as delicious: köfte, adana kebab, lamb skewers.