With mouthwatering warm meatballs hot off the grill and bright red tomatoes accompanying them, Arnavutköy’s Köfteci Ali Baba got into the meatball business in 1982 by opening a small store, like most other meatball restaurants. Ali Baba got kids hooked on the meatball-piyaz combo and when they grew up they continued to be loyal to the venue, which also grew.
Ahmet Usta, from Elazığ, adopted the slogan ‘I love this spice’ and started his career by creating a buffet in the back of a pickup truck in 1997. Today his 1,500-m2 factory is constantly producing çiğ köfte (raw meatballs). He is proud to have created a new element to the concept of Turkish ‘fast food’.
Günaydın Et is one of the best places to enjoy good meatballs or even order good meatballs to go. Günaydın Et produces their own meat in their own farm in Tekirdağ. The 3 locations offer butcher services, welcoming you with 3 different types of meatballs, kasap meatballs, hamburger patties, and chicken meatballs.
Hain Köfte, meaning ‘traitor meatballs’, thought long and hard when choosing its name. After creating an addiction among people who would even break their diets for these delicious meatballs they decided to go with the name ‘traitor meatballs’. Located in Maslak, Hain Köfte uses a meatball recipe that originated in Macedonia.
The elegant kebab restaurant Köşebaşı can be found in two locations in the city, in a typical Levent home with a garden, and in Kurukahveciler Köşkü on the Asian side. The restaurant sets itself apart from other kebab restaurants with its primarily timber, stylish décor. Chosen by Time magazine as Istanbul’s best kebab restaurant, and one of the world’s 50 best restaurants by Conde Nast Traveller, Köşebaşı serves dishes from Adana and Tarsus. Preparing their food according to traditional recipes, Köşebaşı’s ‘çöp şiş’ (small cubes of grilled meat on a skewer) is mouth-watering. We recommend eating it with the Toros salad made of arugula, mint and other greens and herbs. Here you won’t find the standard mezze plates served at other kebab restaurants. The mezzes are special and limited in number; our favourite is the aubergine salad. These kebabs and mezzes can be enjoyed in the restaurant’s branch in Reina, open from 19.00-01.00. Köşebaşı’s Maslak Mudo Concept, Ataşehir and Kavacık branches all offer home delivery. Köşebaşı restaurants are also open in Ankara, İzmir, Bodrum and even Greece and Brazil. Branches: Beylikdüzü (0212) 879 00 66 Maslak (0212) 285 44 44 Nişantaşı (0212) 230 38 68 Reina (0212) 258 06 83
Odabaşlar is a quaint family-run venue. All the meatballs are prepared fresh daily. The restaurant will surprise you with its delicious flavors.
It’s hard to find a good neighborhood butcher that is famous for their meat but Onur Et Galerisi, in the Levent Bazaar, is one of those good neighborhood butchers. It’s so good that even those who have moved further away from the Levent area will come back just to get meat from this butcher.
With Özcanlar 1 and Özcanlar 2 in Tekirdağ and Özcanlar Sahil located along the Tekirdağ coast, Özcanlar Köfte also has a location in the Astoria Shopping Center. It is the best place to enjoy Tekirdağ meatballs. Özcanlar Köfte, a very popular venue for the past 59 years, makes Tekirdağ meatballs using only beef, onion, garlic, bread, salt, cumin, and black pepper. Özcanlar also produce their own meat on their farm in the Yurtbekler village, in the Muratlı district in Tekirdağ. The venue consumes an average of 300 kilos of meat a day, providing meatballs to 8 restaurants in various districts of Istanbul.
The fact that Istanbulites love meatballs is especially evident in the range of meatballs whose name starts with ‘historic’. While newly opened cafes seem to close right away, meatball restaurants have stood the test of time thanks to their historic properties. Of the historic meatball venues, Sultanahmet Köfteci Selim Usta is a timeless favorite.
Delicious meatballs hot off the grill, unique pepper paste and pickled peppers with some piyaz on the side… Ahmet Usta started with a makeshift shop with 1 table and 4 chairs and turned it into Tarihî Merkezefendi Köftecisi.