Alternatively titled – All the food we ate in Gaziantep.
Gaziantep is a mecca for lovers of food! There’s no room for half-hearted effort or diets here. It’s a town with a sweet-tooth – famous for it’s baklava, sold in over 200 shops throughout the city. But there’s more to Gaziantep than just it’s baklava. Let us take you on a tour around town and introduce you to some of its amazing food. Let the fun (and sugar-high) games begin!
The best ever baklava.
Home of the fistik (pistachio), any food tour of Gaziantep needs to start with an introduction to baklava. Baklava is made with filo pastry, chopped pistachio nuts and syrup. Put it all together and you have a treat worthy of a sultan.
It’s delicious and this is the best place in the world to eat it!
We tried different types of baklava and every piece was delicious. But overall, the winner of best baklava in Gaziantep for us was at Imam Cagdas (a tip for if you find yourself in Gaziantep one day! Pictured below right.). I’m not even sure what is considered the perfect baklava but we agreed we liked it not too sweet, with just the right amount of nuts and a nice crunch from the filo pastry.
The breakfast choices in Gaziantep are so good we had to forgo our usual delicious Turkish hotel breakfast. No other time of day would do, as some of the best food in town is only available in the morning. There are two popular choices for breakfast – one sweet and one savoury.
Starting with savoury, a famous local breakfast dish in Gaziantep is the beyran. A stew of shredded lamb, rice, garlic, spices, pepper and lamb broth. And the best place to eat it is Metanet Lokantasi.
The stew was outstanding. Served with a side plate of freshly baked bread, lemon and even more spicy peppers – this was my favourite meal in Turkey. One of those moments when everything stops and the simple pleasures in life takeover. Is there anything better than tasty, simple and delicious food?
Dessert for breakfast.
This breakfast is so popular, it usually sells out by 11am. So we made sure to arrive early to try the katmer served up at Katmerci. On arrival, the owner invited us into the kitchen to see how things were made. It was a great way to see the chefs in action.
To make the katmer, first the pastry is stretched out to a wafer thinness. Then it’s time to add kaymak (similar to clotted cream), sugar, and pistachio nuts. Wrap it all up like a present, brush it over with butter and into the oven it goes. The end product is a delicious… breakfast. It’s very sweet, I’m not sure I could eat it for breakfast everyday but it was very tasty. The below serving easily feeds two.
A popular place in town for lunch or dinner is Imam Cagdas. We had a colourful and delicious lunch of our favourite Turkish food – the lahmacun, with some side salads. The Turkish translation of lahmacun is ‘Turkish pizza’ although there is no cheese in sight. It’s oh so delicious and fun to eat. A spiced lamb mince is added to a thin layer of dough, which is then cooked in a wood-fire oven. Once cooked and served, you then add a squeeze of lemon, some parsley, plus a sprinkle of sumac and chilli. Then the important part – you roll it up and you’re away. I honestly could eat lahmacuns all day long.
And don’t forget the homemade ayran. A delicious salted yoghurt drink which also helps when you’ve had one hot pepper too many.
After all those calories we needed to do some walking to work them off, so we also spent time exploring the market area of town to look at food, rather than consume it.
The market area here is as beautiful as you’d expect from a Turkish market. As we were in town at the end of summer, there was an abundance of dried vegetables for sale, along with the usual spices and nuts. As well as food, there is also local craftsmen at work, souvenirs for sale, bakeries, antique stores, hidden mosques and more to be found as you wander the streets.
I never imagined that one of the tastiest smoothies we would have on this trip would be in Turkey. But then I’d never heard of an Atom smoothie. The Atoms are available at any of the many juice shops around town. That’s the Atom on the right below. Left is freshly squeezed pomegranate juice.
The ingredients are a bit of a mystery but there’s definitely bananas, strawberries, nuts and honey. Whatever the secret ingredients are, it’s a cheap and delicious meal in liquid form. It was our first smoothie in a long time and I think my smile says it all.
Time for some culture.
There are other things to do in Gaziantep apart from eating. There’s the castle and the culinary muesum, but the highlight for us was the Zeugma Mosaic Museum. This museum contains some of the best mosaic examples from the ancient world. Who knew mosaics could be so beautiful. The detail and shading they achieved using only small tiles is amazing. The museum does a great job of telling detailed and interesting stories of the pieces (in Turkish and in English).
The mosaics throughout the museum are varied in size, style and colouring. Some are small pieces, others entire floor pieces.
The key piece in the museum is known as the Gypsy Girl. A hauntingly beautiful piece – you can’t escape her stare.
We felt her stare telling us it might be time to start our diet!