Turkey's food scene is thriving. Here's where to enjoy traditional and innovative food experiences, plus wine, beer and tea
The town of Van in the south-east, sadly now best-known in Britain for a major earthquake in 2011, was previously renowned for its breakfasts. All-day "breakfast salons" serve cucumber and tomato, olives, eggs, butter, cheese, honeycomb, cacık (a yoghurt dip), clotted cream, porridge, hot pide, tea and juice. Find them on and around Cumhuriyet Caddesi.
Alaçatı, a former Greek village on the Aegean coast, has dozens of boutique hotels and gourmet restaurants. Alancha (alancha.com) is the go-to restaurant for ultra-modern Turkish cuisine. There is a four-course bar menu (£34) and two tasting menus: local or Anatolian (£46). This month Alaçatı hosted the inaugural Vanishing Tastes food festival, celebrating traditional Aegean recipes; the next is on 10-12 October. Several wineries offer tastings: try Urla (urlasarapcilik.com.tr) and Urlice (urlice.com).
Tokat in Anatolia is the place to go for a unique kebab, made to an ancient recipe in a clay oven. Skewers of lamb, aubergine, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and garlic are cooked over lavash, so the juices drip on to the flatbread. For hearty eaters only.
Istanbul has Turkey's most stylish restaurants. Recent openings include Nopa (Atiye Sokak 6), a steakhouse with a gentlemen's club vibe; Duble Meze (dublemezebar.com), serving modern meze with great views of the city; and Tapasuma (tapasuma.com), offering fish dishes in a restored 19th-century distillery.
Gaziantep produces the best pistachio nuts in Turkey and is the home of baklava. Try it at Imam Cagdas (imamcagdas.com) in the city centre, where there is also a small museum of regional cuisine, the Emine Gogus culinary museum (gaziantepcity.info).
Note: Gaziantep is relatively close to the Syrian border. Check FCO advice before travelling (gov.uk)
Unlikely wine destination
Cappadocia is famous for its unique rock formations; its excellent wines are less well-known. Sample them at the International Wine Festival, held each October in the town of Urgup, or on a wine tour of the region with Vinotolia (half-day or full-day, vinotolia.com).
Cappadocia is also a great region to take a cookery class. Lil'a restaurant in Uchisar (lil-a.com.tr) offers cooking classes and tours. Euphrates Tours offers a day's culinary tour (cappadociatours.com) in Ayvali village, which includes a cooking lesson with a local family.
The new beer scene
There are a few microbreweries in Istanbul, but elsewhere the craft beer trend has been slow to take off. One exception is Alanya on the Mediterranean coast, which boasts the Red Tower Brewery & Restaurant. It produces four beers and houses a sushi bar.
High time for tea
Tea, which has overtaken coffee as the national drink, is grown along the Black Sea coast, east of Trabzon. Taste it at the Tea Research Institute in Rize, 1km south of the centre.
Alancha restaurant. Photograph: Yanki Sungar
Bold new dishes as well as classic recipes are part of the vibrant Turkish food scene. Photograph: Yanki Sungar