It is easy to keep up with healthy eating in Istanbul. No matter one’s dietary requirements, new places that serve the latest trends popping up around town like mushrooms. Today, it would be safe to say that healthy, casual meals are Istanbul’s fresh, fast food.
Every industry, from tourism to fashion to technology to gastronomy, is working to enhance wellness provided to customers, who are looking for products that add to their wellbeing. Across Istanbul, companies are joining in on the trend, offering meditation workshops, breathing therapy, and ketogenic diets. Restaurants, too, are being driven to change, primarily by working white-collar professionals who prefer wholesome meals served fast and often to go.
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. However, these individuals may not always have the time to prepare their food and turn to daily diet menus and varied food deliveries to maintain wellness.
In response, restaurants across the city tailored their offerings to match the clientele’s eating habits and added their spin to keep palates satisfied. So 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. At the same time, the spacious location upstairs (which 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 “Ottolenghi-Esque” concept. If the swanky designer store-cum-restaurant is off your regular path, head to the smaller grab-and-go spot in Bebek. Everything on offer is homemade, and 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 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 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 looking to maintain a plant-based diet. The cozy Taksim spot has a vegetarian menu 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
Bi Nevi Deli
The newest spot on our list, Healing, has no problems staying ahead of the competition. From breakfast to a late-night meal, it has everything for even the strictest dietary regimes. Paleo? Keto? High Fiber? Low Sodium? Find it all here. It is easy to make a healthful choice with 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, a turmeric latte, or matcha tea. Open daily 8am-11:30pm. Hüsrev Gerede Caddesi No.110, Teşvikiye; T: (0212) 260 08 08
Vi Coffee & Healthy Living might be your new favorite neighborhood cafe if it is not yet. 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
Blended’s evolution and growth have been a pleasure to watch, from a juice joint to a holistic nutrition specialist. Offering juices, soups, health shots, and glasses of milk organized in delivery packages according to one’s needs (for glowing skin, physical fitness, and the like) is an excellent choice for those looking for natural supplements of their established diets. In addition, 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 a 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 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 11 am-6 pm. İnönü Caddesi, No.9A, Taksim. T: (0212) 293 52 42
V iCoffee & Healthy Living
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 apparent: the menu should nurture both body and soul while helping you stay on track with 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 locations in Istanbul, Govinda has finally found its home at the Goranga Yoga studio in Mecidiyeköy. Open for lunch and dinner. The place offers many 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 a plant-based menu to yoga practitioners who attend the classes on the upper floor of the cafe and all other healthy living enthusiasts, LiT Karakoy is an essential address in the area. Although petite in size of both the venue and offered menu, the place changes its daily offerings, ensuring quality and a flavorsome experience. Open daily 9 am-9 pm. Bankalar Caddesi No.17, Karakoy; T: (0212) 252 55 95
LemonGrass Health Bar
Proving that healthy indeed became the new fast food, we cannot forget about the restaurant chains that started the trend. Sosa has been a great alternative for food court diners with many locations around town for many years. Offering salads, wraps, grilled dishes, and pasta dishes, it attracted 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 cover every aspect of the experience, right down to the packaging of the food. In addition, the Teşvikiye location features a tiny backyard where herbs are grown.