It is easy to keep up with healthy eating in Istanbul. No matter one’s dietary requirements, new places that serve the latest trends pop up around town like mushrooms. Today, it would be safe to say that in Istanbul healthy, casual meals are the new fast food.
Every industry, from tourism to fashion to technology to gastronomy, is working to enhance wellness provided to customers, who themselves are looking for products that add to their wellbeing. Across Istanbul, companies are joining in on the trend, offering services such as meditation workshops, breathing therapy, and ketogenic diets. Restaurants too are being driven to change, mostly by working white-collar professionals who prefer wholesome meals served fast and often to go.
White collar gourmet
Istanbul’s professionals have long been the force behind the city’s food trends, with the same group being behind the popularity of Yemeksepeti, Istanbul’s well-known food delivery service. These individuals may not always have the time to prepare their own food and turn instead to daily diet menus and varied health food deliveries to maintain wellness.
In response, restaurants across the city tailored their offerings to match the clientele’s eating habits and added their own spin to keep palates satisfied. No longer do those living in Istanbul have to eat a simple green salad to be healthy; today, restaurants are spicing it up to keep you coming back for more. We picked our favorites below to help you maintain a healthy diet during your stay in Istanbul.
Part of Istanbul’s dining scene for many years, Gram is a solid choice for those who do not follow a particular dietary regime but like fresh, high-quality food. With locations in Levent and Maslak, deliveries via services such as KapGel, and a home-cooked delivery service gramevde.com, all its products are easily within reach. In Kanyon shopping mall, the Gram kiosk on the ground floor offers vegetable-based salads and mezze for the on-the-go crowd, while spacious location upstairs (which literally replaced a fast food outlet that occupied the space for many years) serves delicious signature takes on Turkish comfort food classics. A full bar is also available.
Sanayi 313’s seasonal produce-oriented dishes are derived from the same “Ottolenghi-esque” concept. If the swanky designer store-cum-restaurant is off your regular path, head to the the smaller grab-and-go spot in Bebek. Everything on offer is homemade and close proximity deliveries are available. Open Monday-Friday 8am-6pm, Saturday 10am-6pm. Atatürk Oto Sanayi, 10.Sokak No.313, Maslak; T: (0212) 286 38 57
Within just a few years Bi Nevi Deli turned from the only vegan joint in Istanbul to the only one that really matters. Described by the owners as a “creative plant-based kitchen,” the place is exactly that: the variety of its offerings ensures you are never bored with the vegan cuisine. While the location may be small, you can always take the goodness home to share with your loved ones. Open daily 9:30am-9:30pm. Bahtiyar Sokak No.10-1, Etiler; T: (0212) 358 60 32
Zencefil has been a staple for years for those who are looking to maintain a plant-based diet. The cosy Taksim spot has a vegetarian menu that is regularly updated with vegan options. The interior has not changed much over the years, but neither have the prices. Kurabiye Sokak No. 8/A, Beyoğlu; T: (0212) 243 82 34
The newest spot on our list, Healin, has no problems staying ahead of the competition. From breakfast to a late-night meal, it has everything for even the strictest of dietary regimes. Paleo? Keto? High Fiber? Low Sodium? Find it all here. It is easy to make a healthful choice with items such as organic buddha bowls, fragrant bone broth-based soups, and burgers with a side of greens or sweet potatoes. You can also relax with ketogenic coffee, tumeric latte, or a matcha tea. Open daily 8am-11:30pm. Hüsrev Gerede Caddesi No.110, Teşvikiye; T: (0212) 260 08 08
If it is not yet, Vi Coffee & Healthy Living might be your new favorite neighborhood cafe. The restaurant answers all your sweet-tooth cravings without leaving a guilty aftertaste. Their raw cheesecakes and power balls are to die for. Open Monday-Saturday 7:30am-11pm, Sunday 8:30am-8pm, Ahmet Fetgari Sokak No.18/B, Tesvikiye; T: (0212) 247 18 37
From a juice joint to a holistic nutrition specialist, Blended’s evolution and growth has been a pleasure to watch. Offering juices, soups, health shots, and milks organized in delivery packages according to one’s needs (for glowing skin, for physical fitness, and the like), it is a great choice for those who look for natural supplements of their established diets. Holistic workshops about nutrition and self-care enhance the entire concept. Maçka Meydanı Sokak No.28A, Valideçeşme; T: (0212) 236 29 80 or order online
With menu based on seitan, or wheat protein, Iyi Lokanta is one of the few, if not the only, restaurant in Istanbul serving vegan versions of Turkish classics. From döner to pide to tantuni, all menu items are delicious enough to fool even the staunchest of meat eaters. Kardeşler Caddesi No.45/A, Esentepe; T: (0212) 264 79 16
Ek Biç Ye İç (“plant, harvest, eat, drink” in Turkish) is a sustainable eatery that uses hydroponic gardening to grow their own healthy produce. Combined with organic products from local gardens and farms, the spot delivers fresh food from the heart of the city. Open Monday-Saturday 11am-6pm. İnönü Caddesi, No.9A, Taksim. T: (0212) 293 52 42
Wholesome kitchens for the yogis
The symbiotic relationship between Cihangir Yoga and its next-door neighbor, Lemongrass Health Bar, is unquestionable. With 99.9 percent of the clientele coming in for a snack wearing yoga pants, the expectations are obvious: the menu should nurture both body and soul while helping you stay on track of your wellness goals. The menu changes daily and various snacks and drinks are available. You can also sign up for daily detox packages. Sarıyer Caddesi No.69/5, (Migros), İstinye; T: (0212) 277 11 90
After trying out several location in Istanbul, Govinda has finally found its home at the Goranga Yoga studio in Mecidiyeköy. Open for lunch and dinner, the place offers a plethora of vegetarian and vegan options suitable for the studio’s practitioners and other ayurvedic food enthusiasts. Open Monday-Friday noon-3pm and 6pm-9pm. Naci Kasım Sokak No.6B, Mecidiyeköy; T: (0212) 234 36 33
Offering plant-based menu to yoga practitioners who attend the classes on the upper floor of the cafe, as well as to all other healthy living enthusiasts, LiT Karakoy is an important address in the area. Although petite in size of both the venue and offered menu, the place changes its daily offerings ensuring quality and flavorsome experience. Open daily 9am-9pm. Bankalar Caddesi No.17, Karakoy; T: (0212) 252 55 95
Proving the point that healthy indeed became the new fast food, we cannot forget about the restaurant chains that started the trend. With many locations around town, Sosa has been a great alternative for food court diners for many years. Offering salads, wraps, grilled dishes, and pasta dishes, it managed to attract devoted customers without making any changes to its menu.
Plus Kitchen, is another welcome addition to the health-food chains around town. Its upbeat branding and attention to detail covers every aspect of the experience, right down to the packaging of the food. The Teşvikiye location features a little backyard where herbs are grown.