Cheap Fish Meals in Istanbul

Last Updated on August 4, 2022

Istanbul has good fish restaurants like those in Kumkapı, but many are expensive.

Want cheap fish? This map shows you where you can find these cheap fish eateries:

Istanbul Fish Sandwich

Down at the Eminönü end of the Galata Bridge you can get a filling fish sandwich and some salad for only a few liras—an Istanbul tradition. More...

Shore fish restaurants at Kumkapı, Istanbul, Turkey







Shore fish restaurants at sunset...

Karaköy Fish Market

At the Beyoğlu end of the Galata Bridge, west (Golden Horn) side in Karaköy there is a fish market, and scattered through the fish market are tiny, very basic fish eateries.

The chef toils over an open griddle or grill frying fish, whole or filleted, sliding them onto plates with some salad and handing them to a waiter who serves you at a low table-and-stool. Fresh bread, soft drinks (no alcohol), low prices: less than TL20 for a fish lunch or dinner.

One caution: sometimes the chef, anticipating a rush of customers, will fry up lots of fillets well in advance, then heat and serve these pre-cooked fillets when customers arrive. These pre-cooked fillets are not as tasty or tender as freshly-cooked fillets. Look at the grill, and if there's a pile of pre-cooked fillets, perhaps you want to choose a different restaurant.

Kumkapı Fish Market

No doubt you have heard about Istanbul's historic Kumkapı district, cluttered with (fairly expensive) fish restaurants.

It used to be that if you passed through Kumkapı and crossed the busy shore boulevard (Kennedy Caddesi) to the waterfront you'd see the Kumkapı Fish Market (Balık Pazarı).

Fishmongers—as at Karaköy—and small eateries would be frying or grilling fresh fish and serving it stand-up or at small tables, as sandwiches (Balık-Ekmek) or simple plates.

However, this area is now a construction site for roadwork. The fishmongers have been moved to Samatya, at least temporarily (probably meaning "for years.")

The Kumkapı fish sandwiches were superior to the more famous Balık-Ekmek served from the fancy boats by the Galata Bridge, but for the time being, you'll probably want to choose Galata Bridge instead. More...

Kumkapı's white-tablecloth restaurants are still hereand still serving, with tables set right at the edge of the sea You can get winebeer or rakı with your meal as well.

—by Tom Brosnahan

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