We have only ever had lunch in the Esenay, and have been in the company of mostly Turks doing the same. After 1.30 pm or so, it empties as they go back to work. The fact that it is so popular with locals is a recommendation in itself. It`s very clean, the food is freshly cooked, the staff are smart and efficient and speak English a little (enough).
The food is Turkish and we have always found it delicious, it`s also inexpensive compared to the establishments catering mostly to tourists.
Give it a try, it`s just off the main tourist area, but easy to find on a main road. You`ll then be able to see the difference and compare with the tourist places.
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