Some Thoughts on Shopping and Dining.

doner and shopping

The historic city of Ankara is the second largest city in Turkey after Istanbul. It is the capital and administrative center of the country. Apart from the charming old town of Ulus, built around a hilltop citadel and home to many landmarks, mosques, and historic buildings, the rest of the city is divided between fairly recent purpose-built buildings and a few huts built by newcomers from the Turkish countryside over the last 50 years or so. The city is centered on Kizilay Square, followed by Ulus Square and Sihiye Square. Hotels in downtown Ankara are connected to all tourist attractions by subway, bus, commuter train, and cab.

For many Westerners, Turkish cuisine begins and ends with doner kebab. However, while there are countless kebab stores throughout the city, there are many other cuisines in the country. Every region and city in Turkey has its own cuisine, and thanks to economic immigration from the countryside, most dishes can be found in restaurants that cater to local tastes. Ankara also has some of the best and freshest fish in Turkey all year round, with fish restaurants taking full advantage of their supply networks. Although not cheap, the taste is surprisingly good, with the best restaurants being found around Kankaya and on Tunari and Orgunlar streets.

A traditional Ankara dish is Iskander kebab, with slices of fresh lamb cooked in a roasting pan with tomatoes, yogurt, and lots of butter. If you like doner, follow the locals and find your favorite place. Remember that a real round doner should be rectangular and the meat cut should be flat. Turkish meals start with small dishes such as grilled vegetables called meze, followed by the main course of fish or meat and typical sweet desserts such as Turkish sweets and lokma (fried sweet pastry served in syrup). Turkish coffee, grainy, sweet, and strong, is served in small cups. The old town of Ulus offers some of the best culinary experiences and is very atmospheric, with many restaurants housed in old Ottoman-era houses.

From street stalls to gourmet restaurants, a vacation in Ankara is a culinary adventure. Most street food is safe to eat. If you are in a hurry and a stall is deserted while others are waiting in line, it is dangerous! The Chankaya, Kavaklidere, and Gazismumpasa districts are well served with gourmet food, and Sakalaya Street is known for its fast food and reasonably priced fresh fish restaurants. Raki is the most popular drink, but the quality varies greatly and the inexperienced should beware.