Ankara is best known for its rich history and culture, a large part of the latter is its mouth-watering delicacies. From Turkish delight to Doner Kebabs, what better place to try the country’s cuisine than in Turkey’s capital city?
Here is a list of five of the most luxurious restaurants in Ankara together with my suggestions of the signature dishes you should try.
Develi1912 sits among the top one-hundred restaurant brands in the world and I can see why. Located on one of Ankara’s most established and important streets (Palestine Street), it boasts panoramic views of the city and its mountainous backdrop.
The detached building has an industrial exterior, which contrasts the sleek and modern interior. Sink into your cream leather chair, admiring the sunset through the floor-to-ceiling windows, as you wait for your tasty dish to be placed onto the marble table.
For starters, I dipped puffed Lavash bread (a widely eaten flatbread in Türkiye, Iran and Armenia) into a selection of condiments.
I could not get enough of Cig Kofte, traditionally a raw meat dish served cold as a meze. It’s a thick mixture of finely ground beef or lamb, mixed with bulgur, onions, parsley, mint, tomatoes and spices. As a vegetarian, mine was substituted with lentils, yet still lively in flavour.
Pide (Turkish pizza) is one of the most-known dishes in Türkiye. It’s a flatbread usually topped with mozzarella or ground beef or lamb, with Sumac (a dried berry spice) sprinkled on top. Pide is a must-try when in Türkiye.
I also tried the mouth-watering Develi’s melted cheese and sizzling mushrooms. Served in a cast-iron pan, on a wooden platter, the crackling bubbles of spiced cheese, drizzling over the fried mushrooms.
Dessert was Katmer – a crushed pistachio, cream-filled dough, that is crisped to perfection.
More info: Develi
Divan is a Turkish hotel chain with restaurants, patisseries and bakeries that are open to non-guests.
Divan Çukurhan is in a prime location, opposite Ankara Castle, making it a perfect lunch stop in between sightseeing. From the outdoor seating area, the city views beat all of the restaurants on this list. You can spot Anıtkabir (Atatürk’s Mausoleum), CSO Ada, Gençlik Park and Kocatepe Mosque.
The presentation of the food is elegant, but the taste is even better. To start, I had a plate of pickled vegetable bites with three dips; Hummus, Labneh (strained, salted yoghurt) and Ezme (diced vegetables with lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, sumac, and dried mint).
While the carnivores enjoyed their creamy lasagne, I ate grilled, salted vegetables. Believe me when I say that broccoli, carrots and courgette have never tasted so delicious! Barbunya Pilakiis (Stewed kidney beans) is another great choice for vegetarians and vegans.
More info: Divan
Uludag, meaning Grand Mountain, has been serving delectable dishes since 1956. It’s a historical restaurant in Ankara, but its architecture is dull and the decor is simple.
There was nothing dull or simple about the food. Even the fresh salad was bursting with sweet flavours. Pick from Uludag’s range of homemade dressings – pomegranate, lemon or vinegar. If you want a hearty starter try the lentil soup.
For mains I ordered Iskender Kebab. It’s sliced doner kebab on lightly grilled pide bread, soaked in tomato puree and doner fat. Grilled tomatoes, green peppers and yoghurt are served on the side. A vegetarian option is also available, as the meat can simply be left out.
There was an abundance of desserts. I taste-tested a few for the sole purpose of this review:
Fırında Sütlaç is a special pudding in Türkiye, usually baked in every home and served in every restaurant. It’s rice pudding, made with sweet milk and slow-cooked until the top is golden and settled. (It’s much better than British rice pudding!)
Künefe (or Knafeh) can only be described as stretchy cake. It’s made with spun pastry (Kataifi) and soaked in sweet syrup, with an oozy cheese filling. Similar to sweet Levantine cheese pastry.
Ekmek kadayıfı comes from the Ottoman Empire. It’s a bread pudding served with clotted cream (Kaymak), and of course smothered in syrup, like most Turkish treats. It’s simple, but delicious.
Address: Anafartalar, Denizciler Caddesi￼￼ No:54, 06030 Altındağ/Ankara, Türkiye
Hanging vines, as well as other plants were dotted around Trilye restaurant, creating a natural and outdoorsy feel. The retractable roof and surrounding full-length windows were also a nice touch.
Trilye is known for being a popular dining spot among politicians – their taste in quality food cannot be argued.
The Meze Varieties appetiser won me over instantly. It could be compared to Spanish tapas, where you select around four to six small dishes. I chose broccoli, artichoke heart, terleten (a white sauce), greek pastry, and yoghurt. Since Trilye is a seafood restaurant there are also plenty of fish dishes to try, from octopus carpaccio to pickled tunny.
The shared breads with olive oil were also inviting. I especially liked the cornbread, which reminded me of savoury cake.
My main meal of Grilled Vegetables was other-worldly. Chewy mushrooms, juicy red peppers, sweet tomatoes, caramelised onions, and honey-roasted carrots are just a few examples of what was on my plate.
Profiteroles are my favourite sweet treat, so excuse my biases, but I could not get enough of Trilye’s Profiteroles. It was presented with chocolate and Tahini sauce smothered over it – a melt-in-your-mouth gift from God.
More info: Trilye
5Naya Restaurant Lounge
Saving the best ‘till last, Naya is an elegant restaurant, with large panel windows overlooking the botanical gardens.
Again, I don’t know what makes salads taste so good in Türkiye , but pick any off the menu and you won’t regret it. The roasted vegetables are another scrumptious choice.
My main course was the Vegan Kofte. They call it a ‘meatball’, but it looks more like a burger. The shape aside, this mix of artichoke and duxelle mushroom is to die for. If you like falafel, you’ll enjoy Kofte too. Fresh asparagus, muhammara (a spicy dip) and portulaca salad are served on the side.
The dessert was Milföy Pasta, titled ‘Napoleone’ on the menu. It has nothing to do with pasta though. It’s puff pastry (Mille-feuille) layered with cake cream, much like the British vanilla slice. Caramel sauce and fresh fruits top it off.
For something lighter, but still rich in flavour, order Vanilla Dondurma, Turkish mastic ice cream fits the bill. The perfectly scooped pieces floated on top of a sweet strawberry sauce, with fresh berries scattered around.
The presentation of the food, the quick service and relaxed atmosphere of Naya Restaurant Lounge added to my favouritism.
More info: Naya