A minute’s walk from Sirkeci train station is a cluster of small, simple, pleasant restaurants serving tasty meals at moderate prices. If you’re looking for a good, inexpensive place to eat while visiting the Egyptian (Spice) Marketor the Eminönü ferry docks, make the short walk to Hocapaşa.
The restaurants are clustered by the Mosque of Hocapaşa (HOH-jah-pah-shuh) just south of Sirkeci station. From the station, walk south uphill on Ankara Caddesi for one short block and turn left to find the mosque and restaurants.
In fine weather, tables and chairs are set out in the small square and nearby streets, filling many of them. The open-air dining and old-time neighborhood atmosphere are pleasant. Prices are reasonable, so you might as well choose by first impressions: pick one you like, look at what’s cooking, point to what you want, take a table and enjoy.
Take your choice from ready-food restaurants, grills, or pide (Turkish pizza) places. A light meal of pide and a drink may cost as little as TL10. A ready-food lunch might cost TL15 to TL25; a big dinner TL35 to TL45.
In general, alcoholic beverages are not served here.
Here are descriptions:
Kasap Osman İskender Kebap
“Osman the Butcher” knows good meat, which is why he wants you to try his savory İskender kebap. This is the most prominent of the small restaurants here, located directly across from the Hocapasa mosque.
Namlı Rumeli Köftecisi
At Hocapaşa Sokak No. 22, across the street from Kasap Osman, is this longtime favorite place for ızgara köfte.The chef, an immigrant from Komotini (Gümülcine) in Greece, selects his meat carefully, and prefers real tomatoes to the hard white hothouse fruit.
An ocakbaşı (oh-JAHK-bah-shuh) restaurant is one in which customers sit right at a long rectangular grill. That doesn’t work here, but the grilled kebaps and köfte are still good, and inexpensive.
Pronounced “EHT-eesh,” a literal translation would be “meat-work,” but in fact there are as many ready-fooddishes (if not more).
Balkan Lokantası Self Service
A popular ready-food restaurant with a small kitchen, a good variety of dishes, lots of indoor and outdoor seating, and low prices.
Hocapaşa Pide Kebap Lahmacun Pizza
The name of this place is its menu. Your pide (Turkish-style pizza) is made to order: peynirli (with cheese), kıymalı (with ground meat), sucuklu (with spicy sausage), tavuklu (with chicken). Quick, tasty, hygienic, inexpensive, good! You can also get kebaps and lahmacun, an Arabic-style pizza of thin, soft bread spread lightly with tomato sauce and sprinkled with ground meat and spices.
Akdamar Döner ve Köfte Salonu
For fine dining in more upscale surroundings at moderate prices, try Sirkeci restaurants.
—by Tom Brosnahan