Photograph by Tueremis, laif/Redux
Thanks to periods of both Christian and Muslim rule until the 15th century, the cuisine of beachside Antalya blends influences from both cultures. Surrounded by the snowcapped Taurus Mountains, the city also boasts nearby olive groves, citrus orchards, and fresh seafood pulled from the turquoise Mediterranean Sea.
Tourists dine seaside on fish kebabs, octopus, and plates of colorful mezze. With a large variety of both casual lokantas and upscale restaurants, Antalya is the ideal location for hosting this year’s Expo 2016, which covers horticulture, agriculture, and other topics. More than five million visitors are expected to attend.
What to Eat: Experience Turkish flavors in European dishes at Vanilla Lounge. The restaurant serves white bean and tahini soup and lamb, mint, and pea risotto in a sophisticated setting. For more traditional fare, seek out grouper kebabs or fried red mullet from the Mediterranean—usually available between July and October—at seaside restaurant İskele. Complete the meal with a round of mezze plates like hummus, red pepper spread, or purslane salad.
What to Drink: Raki, an anise-flavored brandy that is quite similar to Greek ouzo, is Turkey’s favorite drink. It turns cloudy when mixed with water or ice, and it’s typically consumed with a meal of mezze and grilled fish. There’s no better place to try it than at one of Antalya’s oldest restaurants like 7 Mehmet, a waterfront spot specializing in seafood.
Edible Souvenir: Jams are a key component of lavish Turkish breakfasts, and Antalya and the surrounding region are particularly well known for making the sweet spreads. Visit Yenigun, one of the country’s biggest producers, for a huge selection of jams in unique flavors like eggplant, watermelon, and rose.
Food Experience: Try catching some seafood of your own with Green Canyon boat tours. The tour company provides all of the equipment for the fishing expeditions around the emerald waters, located about ten miles from Antalya.