A variety of Turkish meze dishes as well as other appetizers are available at Harem.  If you enjoy having and appetizer or starter before your dinner, you’ll definitely appreciate Turkish ‘meze’ and the Turkish way of dining. There are few cuisines in the world that can rival Turkish cuisine when it comes to ‘meze.’ The selection of ‘meze’ that’s offered before your meal depends on what you choose as your main course. Completely different line-ups of ‘meze’ are traditionally served with either fish or meat fare. We have a variety of meze to get you started, but the main attraction at Harem Istanbul Cafe & Restaurant is our Turkish and Ottoman meals. For more details, go to our Menu page. And for more in the way of background on meze, take a peak at this article. 

Spice 101! Do you know the secret spice that makes Turkish meatballs (kofte) so great? Cumin (Kimyon)! Other spices commonly used at Harem Istanbul (and in traditional Turkish cooking) include red pepper flakes (pul biber), dry oregano (kekik), dry mint (nane), and sumak which comes from a dried wild berry and has a slightly sour taste used to flavor onions and salad dressing. Read more about The 10 Most Popular Spices in Turkish Cuisine 

Spice plate

In addition to the amazing spices fresh vegetables and salad dishes are flavored with four main staples: fresh lemon juice, original oil from Turkey, sauce made from pomegranate, and grape vinegar.

Lemon jar horizontal

Don’t go to the overpriced fish houses (charged by the weight with often a big surprise at the end of the meal!). We have a wide variety of delicious seafood available — sea bass, sea bream, shrimp, calamari, and more! What you see is what you get, including the amazing photo of our fish platter above as well as the calamari below. And At Harem Istanbul you will know what you are being charged for. Click on the Menu for details.

Grilled calamari

The secret to unlocking the mysteries of magical Istanbul begin at the table, as well as in the back streets, bakeries and kitchens of the city that never stops eating. It is Istanbul where you haggle over spices sold by the kilo, walk the path of the oldest bazaar in the world where merchants still bring their wares from the corners of the earth, and can fill your stomach with fresh, indigenous ingredients that have survived the test of time. It is a place that housed sultans and their empire, a city that constantly pulses with movement and commerce and where you get a delicious bowel of lentil soup in the wee hours of the morning.  Come sample dishes that have stood the test of time, with the same recipes, precision and technique used from thousands of years ago. Read more about the basics of Turkish cuisine, or simply try it yourself at Harem Istanbul Cafe & Restaurant. We will have a seat waiting just for you.

Kebap at night_edited-1

Kebaps reign supreme in Turkish cuisine with almost every part of Anatolia (east of Istanbul) having its own kebap specialty. Lamb is the basic meat of Turkish kitchen. Pieces of lamb threaded on a skewer and grilled over charcoal form the famous “Sis kebab”, now known in many countries of the world. “Doner kebab” is another famous Turkish dish, which consists of a large roll of lamb placed on a vertical skewer turning parallel to a hot grill. The word doner means “turning” in Turkish, which is what the meat does as it grills. There are many other lamb and minced meat dishes that make up the variety of Turkish meals.

But not matter how good the recipe is, how ancient the technique, it doesn’t matter if you don’t have quality meat. This is the secret to Harem Istanbul Cafe & Restaurant, with a former chef at the helm, he knows how important meat quality is, which is why he handpicks the lamb, beef and chicken each day from a local butcher, taking the extra care to ensure that your dish is going to be the best that Istanbul has to offer.

Here’s an inside view from the kitchen on a typical night at Harem.


Let’s be clear, we know how to prepare and serve succulent cuts of meat in Ottoman and Turkish style. But our mamas told us to eat our vegetables, so we also know how to satisfy the vegetarians among us — fresh salads with local herbs, well cooked vegetables, lentils and much more.