Gaziantep is a city in the southeast of Turkey, and it’s widely known as the country’s cuisine capital. In fact it’s on the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for precisely this reason! But the reason the food is so wonderful is the same reason that Gaziantep is such an incredible place to visit – it’s the history of the place and the mixture of civilizations who’ve left their mark over the centuries. This is really the heart of Mesopotamia, where human civilization itself was born. There’s so much history in the culture, in the city, and in the cuisine that you really have to try it all to understand it!
But of course, you never have as much time in a place as you’d like, so we’re here to help you take that long weekend (or even normal weekend if that’s all you got!) on how to see Gaziantep in just 2 days!
Ok, so one of the highlights of your trip will be the food. On this tour, we’re not going to list specific restaurants or which food you’ll want to eat when, per se – you can choose that. But obviously you’ll want to stuff yourself silly after just about every site you see, so here’s a list of the kinds of things you’ll want to be eating throughout your tour.
You might want to think about starting your day with a traditional Antep breakfast food: Beyran Soup! This is smoky spiced lamb and rice in a lamb broth that really wakes you up and is a fantastic way to get your day started. The flavor of the lamb is brought out perfectly and the spice does everything a massive cup of coffee would do to perk you up. But if soup’s not your thing – you’ve only got two days – start of with a big heavy “cağırtlak” Kebab, made of lamb liver that is truly delectable. Or if you’ve got a sweet tooth, start off with the sweet “katmer”, essentially a pistachio pancake with a healthy dollop of clotted cream on top. However you start, even a traditional Turkish breakfast, it’s sure to be memorable.
After that, the world’s your oyster, and there’s so much to try! Yuvarlama is an incredible mix of rice, minced meat and yogurt all into a kind of soup (seriously, you have to try it to understand – it’s amazing!). The dolma (stuffed vine leaves) in Gaziantep are out of this world, Lahmacun with veggies and garlic, kebabs (Gaziantep is considered the home of kebabs) like Eggplant Kebab, Garlic Kebab, Onion Kebab, a dessert truffle kebab called Keme Kebab, and New World Kebab (made with loquats) are kebabs you won’t really find anywhere else. Kebabs you WILL find elsewhere, like Alinazik are still better in Gaziantep than you’ll find. And then of course there are the desserts: baklavas, carrot baklava, Şöbiyet baklava, Dolama baklava, pistachio Kadayif, and so much more. Don’t be shy about trying everything you see!
Our advice is essentially to wake up, get a big hearty breakfast, then see the old city and get lunch down there. Then head to the castle before a big hearty dinner, finishing up at the Tahmis Café. On Day two you’ll want to see the Zeugma Mosaic Museum (again after a nice long breakfast), and then head to a big hearty lunch. After that it’s time to buy some souvenirs at the bedestan, where you can pick up some local products you’ll find nowhere else before heading out to dinner again and stuffing yourself so full you won’t need any more food on the plane ride home!