What to Eat in Cappadocia
Cappadocia’s local cuisine is mainly based on Turkish-Arabic fare, with influences from the Mediterranean. Beef, chicken and lamb are perfectly accompanied by vegetables and fragrant spices of the East. Fish and seafood are not usually found nor part of the locals’ dietary habits. Specialities of the region include:
One of Cappadocia’s most popular dishes is the Testi Kebap, also known as pottery kebab.
This Anatolian speciality is cooked in a sealed clay pot for a minimum of 4 hours. Restaurants that serve authentic pottery kebabs require at least 4 hours’ notice before you arrive so it’s best to call in advance to make your reservation. The waiter presents the clay pot and cracks it with a hammer in front of you before serving the meal.
Manti, Turkish Ravioli
Turkish Ravioli, while smaller than Italian ravioli, is made almost the same way. The filling consists of minced meat, onion, black and red pepper and It is served with a filtered yoghurt, sumac and mint.
Yaprak Sarma, Stuffed Grape Leaves
Cappadocia is famous for its vineyards, and it follows that filled grape leaves are a popular dish.
In October grapes are collected in Cappadocia’s vineyards and are made into grape molasses and koftur, a favourite dessert in the area and similar to Turkish delight. Koftur is basically dehydrated grape molasses, made from grape juice, flour, and starch, but no added sugar.
Dolaz is a dessert, similar to halva and specific to the Cappadocia region. Grape molasses is added Instead of sugar for sweetness.
Aside is a simple and very sweet dessert, a delicious combination of flour, water and grape molasses cooked slowly in a pan and served hot.
Turkish cream, kaymak tends to be soft, but firm enough to spread on bread. The dried cream, kuru kaymak however, is not so soft, and more like a milk wafer. The entire process of boiling milk, resting it and drying the cream takes five days and it’s only made in Kaymaklı , a village of Derinkuyu. Dried cream is one of the signature flavours of the village.
The Cappadocia region has one type of red grape that makes delicious raisins when dried under the strong Anatolian sun.
Pumpkins are widely produced in Cappadocia region and the seeds are traded all over the country.
Sundried Natural Apricots
The local apricots are brown, and a little more expensive than regular dried apricots.
Wine has been made in Cappadocia for thousands of years and the area has some indigenous grapes that produce wine quite different to wine most visitors are used to drinking. Altitude, sun and the volcanic terrain enriches the character of the grapes and the cave cellars are perfect for aging the wine produced in the region. Varieties to taste when in Cappadocia include Kalecik Karasi, Okuzgozu and Bogazkere.
Viburnum Opulus, commonly named Guelder Rose is a native plant of Europe, Central Asia and Northern Africa, although it is not commonly used. In Cappadocia the small red fruits are steeped in water until the sour taste disappears and the juice of the plant, being very rich in Vitamin C, is drunk as a tisane to support the kidneys. You can find jars of Gilaburu in small spice shops of Cappadocia.
Must Visit Restaurants in Cappadocia
Ziggy Cafe & Restaurant (Ürgüp)
Located in a well-restored traditional rock-carved houses in the region, Ziggy becomes the modern version of an old caravanserai, where travellers and locals come together. The restaurant boasts a summer terrace, winter fireplace and stunning views.
A’la Turca Restaurant (Goreme)
Located in the heart of the mystical landscapes of Cappadocia, this restaurant offers more than 60 different types of typical dishes from the region of Anatolia. The menu has been carefully designed and the food is exceptional, highlighting the different types of sish kebap.
Orient Restaurant (Goreme)
One of the famous restaurants in the area, it has been cooking wonderful meals of both Turkish and international cuisine for many years and provides outside seating and good service.
Hanodasi Restaurant (Göreme)
Excavated in a pyramid shaped stone and once the refectory of a Christian monastery, the restaurant is famous for its manti (Turkish ravioli) and bulgur Corbasi (wheat soup). There is also a tandir (tandoori oven) where you can see the ladies making bread.
Dibek Restaurant (Goreme)
The restaurant is set inside of a 475-year-old building and offers traditional Turkish style seating (on the floor). Try the tadim, a tasting menu and the excellent testı kebapı (meat and vegetable stew cooked slowly in a sealed terracotta pot.
Inci Cave Restaurant (Goreme)
As one of the highest-rated Cappadocia restaurants, they combine different regional cooking styles so you can experience an authentic taste of the region and also serve homemade wine.
Pumpkin Goreme Restaurant and Art Gallery (Goreme)
Housed in a small space under a vaulted ceiling, this beautiful venue is a great place to unwind after a long day of walking. The options are daily set menus of organic dishes, carefully chosen by the chef to represent a rich variety of local flavours.
Topdeck Cave Restaurant (Goreme)
A popular restaurant of local Anatolian cuisine, dishes include soup and a variety of appetisers or mezze, with ingredients sourced from local farmers. Housed beneath the family home in a candlelit cave dwelling, it has only 10 tables, some with floor cushions.
Kadıneli Restaurant (Uçhisar)
This is an eatery with affordable and delicious dishes of local cuisine, including yaprak sarma stuffed grape leaves, manti Turkish ravioli and gozleme.