Bodrum culinary guide for beginners

Bağarası
Bağarası

Food plays important part in anyone’s travel. While some consider it mere fuel for their vacation, others believe that discovering local flavors is as important as visiting historical sights and attractions. Whichever group you belong to, our mini guide will help you make the most of authentic food experiences in Bodrum. 

Turkish breakfast

Used to having three meals a day, on vacation in Bodrum you might quickly forget this daily routine. As Turkish breakfast leans towards a brunch concept rather than a quick bite, your following meal might well be dinner. No matter how delicious and opulent your hotel breakfast is, the authentic spirit of Turkish morning traditions can only be felt in the countryside. One can truly appreciate the meaning of a homemade meal in a rustic place.

Seval’in Yeri

A 150-year-old home-turned-restaurant that serves all-day breakfast under the trees, Asmalı Çardak is one of the most renowned places in the area. If you can’t get enough of it, you can also book a barbecue in the afternoon. Kayacık Caddesi No.52, Sandıma Yolu, Yalıkavak; T: 0533 568 63 33 

Located by the road connecting Ortakent and Yalıkavak, Seval’in Yeri hasn’t disappointed a single customer in its more than 10 year existence. Everything the place serves is delicious and worth taking the trip for—from homemade bread, butter, and jams to fruit and vegetables from their own garden. Yalıkavak Yolu Dağbelen Kavşağı, Bodrum; T: (0252) 386 42 35

Specializing in Turkish home cooking since 2009, Zeytin Altı is a great option that doesn’t require a long drive from the center of Yalıkavak. Although breakfast is the first thing that comes to mind when heading there, the place’s heart—the kitchen—stays open until late in the evening. Erdemil Caddesi No.29B, Yalıkavak; T: (0252) 385 38 76

Eating at Havva Ana is like having breakfast at your mother’s house as she pays attention to you finishing your plate, and ensuring that everything you enjoy is nourishing and made with love. Ertürk Sokak No.18/1, Gökçebel  Köyü, Yalıkavak; T: (0252) 386 33 06

Serving a breakfast spread on a patio surrounded by bougainvillea trees, with a hammock waiting in the shade for the weary visitor, Balkon Bitez Cafe & Restaurant might just have all the important little things you’ve been looking forward to all year long. Atatürk Bulvari No.106, Bitez; T: 0532 462 46 76

Havva Ana

Iconic restaurants

  • Gemibaşı, which is always full come rain or shine
  • Memedof, where you can always come across friends and neighbors 
  • Yunuslar Karadeniz Fırını, which in the summer stays open 24/7 just in case all-nighters decide to stop by for breakfast before heading home in the morning
  • Mimoza, where visitors are willing to pay a premium just to get that perfect instagram frame
  • Limon Gümüşlük, where the sunset view is legendary
  • Kısmet, where home cooked meals gain a completely new dimension
  • Marina Yacht Club, where you can always count on live music and positive energy of the crowd
  • Bitez Dondurma, the perfect place to wrap up your evening out with a scoop of fruity ice cream

For food connoisseurs 

If you consider every meal a celebration of flavors, colors and textures, there are several places in Bodrum you shouldn’t miss: 

Trust in the vision of Ent restaurant’s executive chef and owner, Yoldaş Sönmez, and his team to guide you through an evening that will be impressed on your memory and taste buds for a long time to come. Operating this season from a new location in Bitez, the place awaits visitors with many surprises. Savra Bodrum, Atatürk Caddesi No.85, Bitez; T: (0252) 369 24 26; www.entrestaurant.com 

What can be guaranteed at Orfoz is a celebration of seafood—in abundance all year round thanks to the fertile Aegean Sea. It’s one of the places in Bodrum where the happy diner is genuinely a priority, and they leave the place nourished, entertained, and sometimes downright enlightened as far as the ingredients and local wine pairings are concerned. Kumbahçe Mahallesi, Zeki Müren Caddesi No.13/1, Bodrum; T: 0544 316 42 85

Bağarası is an all-year-round favorite. Besides the must-have yufkalı mantı that can be ordered anytime of the year, the menu changes depending on seasonal availability. The surprise part is unavoidable, but if you’re a mezze enthusiast, you won’t be disappointed—the selection is not like anything you’ve seen before. Pınarlı Caddesi No.59, Bitez; T: (0252) 363 76 93; bagaras-restaurant.business.site

There is always something surprising on the menu at Ace Restaurant. The place is renowned for taking local ingredients in an unexpected direction and will raise your understanding of Turkish and international cuisine to a whole new level. Avantgarde Yalıkavak, Küdür Mevkii, Sehit Engin Büyüksöylemez Caddesi No.9, Yalıkavak; T: (0252) 385 37 65 ; www.avantgardecollection.com

Every international food lover knows Zuma, but not everyone is aware how much the summer pop-up location of the world-renowned Japanese izakaya stands out from the other ones. Strategically located beside the infinity pool of Yalıkavak Marina, Zuma offers its signature dishes and iconic cocktails. Yalıkavak Marina, Çökertme Caddesi, Yalıkavak; T: (0252) 311 06 00; zumarestaurant.com

Malades serves mezze, but a bit differently than anyone else in Bodrum. Combining the best of both Turkish and Greek cuisines, the place is a great casual choice for delicious dinner. Neyzen Tevfik Caddesi, Danaci Sokak No.8/A, Bodrum; T: (0252) 316 88 58; www.maladesrestaurant.com

Maçakızı’s chef Aret Sahakyan has created a Mediterranean menu that is not only a delight to taste but also to look at. A choice of à la carte lunch or dinner is served against a breathtaking view of the sea. This year the talent also appears in the form of small plates and bistro food. Maçakızı Hotel, Kesireburnu Mevkii, Narçiçegi Sokak, Göltürkbükü; T: (0252) 311 24 00; www.macakizi.com

Local delicacies 

If you’re a curious, food-oriented traveler, look no further than one of the local farmers’ markets to find interesting things to taste, buy, cook, or take home (click here for the best Bodrum weekly markets). In winter, the symbol of Bodrum—juicy tangerine—can be found everywhere from Güvercinlik to Turgutreis. In the summer, you can try it in the form of taste-packed dried slices or tangerine-flavored lokum, which is not very common in other parts of Turkey. Other citrus varieties will expand the refinement of your palate; especially if the only way you enjoyed a bergamot so far is through a flavored earl grey tea, or a satsuma as a sweet and colorful jam. 

Peksimet

Peksimet is a twice-baked bread that was once a popular fisherman food. Easy to preserve for up to several months, it tastes perfect when soaked in the juices of a summer ripe tomato salad.

Read also:  Arka Restaurant & Pizzeria, Bodrum

Marking the end of summer is a prickly pear, a local cactus variety fruit. Almost never served in local restaurants, it is best enjoyed at home. For preparation inspirations look no further than Mexican cuisine, and make sure to wear gloves when touching it. 

Cuttlefish—a forgotten delicacy—only graces the menu of select dining establishments in Bodrum. Common in the past, today it is a subject of nostalgic memories and revival attempts by talented chefs such as Yoldaş Sönmez (Ent) or Pelin Dumanlı (Foodroom). 

If you love the broad bean paste (fava) served as mezze in restaurants all over Turkey, you will also love Gambilya fava, a local variety of the same dish, but finer and a bright yellow.