The Izmir area has a fabulous array of restaurants and bars to choose from. In the smaller towns, authentic tavernas serve the best of Turkey's dishes while the larger resorts and cities have restaurants to rival any other cosmopolitan area.
Many eateries in Izmir draw inspiration from Turkish culinary heritage, serving small mezze dishes to share and kebabs like the Iskender, which consists of pitta bread filled with succulent lamb pieces that are drizzled with a yoghurt and tomato sauce. Coastal restaurants, on the other hand, take advantage of their proximity to the sea, serving fresh grilled fish like gilt head bream with a dash of fresh lemon.
Mezze platters are a great choice for groups as they allow for informal dining with local flavour. They're basically the Turkish version of Spanish tapas. Izmir's cities and beach resorts all have a selection of mezze-type restaurants, where the small plates typically feature local delicacies including vegetables, stuffed peppers, cheese pastries and a variety of dips like cacik, a cucumber and yoghurt speciality dip.
The Deniz Restaurant is a firm favourite with locals. Located opposite the Kordon area, the restaurant attracts an upmarket clientele who know they'll be served the freshest and most delicious seafood in the area. The restaurant offers mezze dishes including octopus in oregano and baked sardines. Don't miss the tuzda balik on your Turkey holidays – whole fish baked in a block of salt and cracked open at the table.
The centrally-located Dedim K. might look more like a fast food joint with its menu printed up the side of the walls. But make no mistake, the food here is worth sticking around for – the Turkish pizza, grilled fish and kebabs are all enticing. It's served in a casual, street-side atmosphere but with all the flavour of a more polished restaurant. The dining here is strictly al fresco, so get ready for some sun – because let's face it, that's the real reason you planned those cheap Turkey holidays in the first place.
Sometimes you just need to skip the starter and the main and go straight to dessert. Reyhan allows you to do this. Don't expect to stay calorie-controlled at this cafe – the generous servings of strawberry cheesecake, almond cream cake and homemade carrot cake are too tempting to resist.
Despite the name this restaurant isn't located in a garden – it's actually in the middle of a network of shops – but the food is fresh as if it were picked from a vine, so to speak. The dishes here are traditionally Turkish with an extra hint of Mediterranean counterparts, with dishes like moussaka and stuffed vine leaves on the menu. But what sets this little spot apart is the presentation, as some food is served in stoneware with portable fires underneath to keep it warm.
World flavours come together at this international restaurant, whose Turkish nights are legendary. The place is large and usually busy, serving Chinese, Mexican and plenty of other options in between. After dinner, the atmosphere turns lively with cabaret acts, belly dancers and break dancers, not to mention local bands.