Zencefil

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 30 reviews )
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Kurabiye Sokak 8-10 (at Beyoglu), Istanbul, Turkey

The main entrees, soups, and salads change daily. Sample dishes are quiche with leeks, stuffed dry aubergine and green lasagna. Located near the vegetarian place called Parsifal. 2016 update menu is now all vegetarian. Open Mon-Sat 9:30am-11:30pm, Sun 4:00pm-11:30pm. Closed Sunday.

Categories: Lacto, Ovo, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Turkish

30 Reviews

First Review by Upliftance

Worst meal in Istanbul - Edit

We went to Zencefil after several days in the city, hoping to find simple, good vegetarian food (for my wife) and vegan food (for myself).
Alas, it was the worst dinner we had in the city. We both had soup, which was uninspired, and that was the best part of the meal. I later got a dish of rice and artichoke, which had almost no artichoke in it, and had no seasoning nor taste.
My wife got a vegetable lasagna which was simply uncooked and cold. When she asked to replace it we were scolded (!), with the waitress saying "everybody else likes this dish" (there was no on in the place but us). They refused to take it back and we had to pay for the thing.
Which brings us to the price: completely unreasonable and high not only in Istanbul standards but also by any other.
In short: do not go there! Your average street stand will have better vegan/vegetarian options.

Pros: Nice internal decoration

Cons: Bad food, Terrible service, Too expensive

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Yummy and romantic - Edit

We loved this gem! Really tastey food, big portions and great atmosphere!
Would love to go back here any day!
Amazing!

Pros: Tastey, Healthy, Good quality meal

Cons: Non, Non, Non

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Best meal i had in Istanbul - Edit

So refreshing to find this restaurant…. Best bread, wonderful salad and i chose their vegetarian Lasagna… Also had their Ginger Lemonade… Again, the best meal i had in Istanbul...

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Over and again over priced! - Edit

I'm agree with the other comments."Unfriendly Staff and Overpriced Food"

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Not bad. Not the best option either. - Edit

Zencefil definetly wins at decor. It is beautiful. But some desks are located so close to each other, you feel like you are sitting together with other people...

Food... So there are not many vegan option, but many vegetarian. It also serves meat :(
If you are vegan, you won't get out hungry, don't worry.

What I didn't like was that the menu is so confusing.
There are no symbols for vegan or vegetarina or gf dishes. Also, the menu is not full, and waiters often offers other dishes that are written on the chalk board. The food is not super delicious, but interesting.

Bread is not vegan!!!

Prices are in between moderate and high. Portions are not small.

Pros: Decor

Cons: Serves meat, Confusing menu, Bread

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Disappointing food and service... - Edit

We were recommended Zencefil by our hotel as a good vegetarian restaurant. For some reason it did not come up on Happy Cow when I searched the local area, as having now seen some of the previous reviews I probably would've thought twice about going.

The restaurant is full of character and the outdoor seating area was lovely. Decorated nicely and had a charming and welcoming feel. Sadly though the staff soon ruin the ambience!

Staff are unhelpful, unfriendly, not knowledgable about their food or about vegan options. Overwhelming feeling that customers are a bit of a nuisance!

When asked about vegan options and having to explain what this meant, the waiter stated he would have to go to the kitchen. He eventually came back to the table to tell me I could have the lentil soup as it does not have flour in it. When my sister tried to explain flour isn't a problem he became comfrontational and said he knew that. Confusing. Vegan options aren't listed on the menu and although most of the menu is vegetarian there is not much of a description about what's in the food or what comes with it. There was one chicken dish on the menu when we visited.

I had the lentil patties and asked what this came with, he replied with a salad. When it arrived the lentil patties were stone cold, looked like they had been squashed in someone's hand and plonked on tiny bits off ripped off iceberg lettuce. The taste was bland and unimaginative. The cost was unreasonable for the standard and portion size. My sister had the lasagne which appeared to have been microwaved and again lacked any flavour.

Staff did not come and ask how the meal was, whether we wanted any more drinks and completely ignored us and others whilst having a conversation inside the restaurant. Even when we asked for the bill they appeared disinterested. They did not ask why so much food was left or offer a discount on the bill. We paid and promptly left.

Shame as it ruined our last night in what had otherwise been a fantastic stay in beautiful Istanbul. We had much better service and food in another restaurant the night before and they went out of their way to cater for us even though most of their menu wasn't suitable. Expected much more from a restaurant that had been billed as vegetarian, popular and apparently open for 20 years.

Pros: Lovely decor and outside courtyard

Cons: Miserable and unhelpful staff, Not aware of vegan options, Food unimaginative, bland, overpriced

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Used to be the best... - Edit

I used to go to Zencefil during my university years, when it was a very small place (across from where they are currently situated). It was one of the few homely feeling place with amazing food. However the quality of food has deteriorated over the years while their prices have gone up significantly.

It is a shame that they have at least one 'animal' dish on the menu and that they do not have many vegan options. (their bread is also not vegan) The staff often make you feel like you are 'bothering them' when you want something.

This was my favourite place on the planet for many years, but now I do not go there anymore. Last time I did a take-out and was so shocked with the price that I decided that cooking at home is by far a better option than going to Zencefil. Really sad though...really sad.

Pros: location; close to Taksim Square, veggie salad (if all options are vegan)

Cons: too expensive, staff is not friendly

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Overrated and Overpriced - Edit

Went there after Parsifal had to turn us away. The interior is nice, but that is about it. The food was plain, cold and nothing special. The prices way too high (who wrote in their review that it was cheap?! - you clearly went to the wrong places...), also they have a cover charge for bread etc. which I couldn't have as vegan because it had milk in it, but they still priced me for it! I have eaten better at the small local restaurants that only cost a fraction of this one. The service was bad as well, they gave us the feeling that we should get out asap so they can close up. We talked to other guests later outside of the restaurant and they had the exact same thoughts about the food and the service. Not recommended. You eat better and cheaper at the normal restaurants who usually have many veg options.

Pros: Interior

Cons: Price + cover charge, quality of food, quality of service

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Like it! - Edit

Excellent food in a nice atmosphere. Low prices. Nice staff. Couldn't ask for more!

Pros: Good food, Atmosphere, Staff

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Nice Almost All Veggie Spot - Edit

On a failed attempt to eat at Parsafil, I ended up here as it is just a block away. This place is almost all vegetarian (there was one chicken dish on the menu) and had a lot of vegan options. The staff is able to knowledgeably point out what is vegan. They aren't overly friendly, but I was surprised to see the review below complain about the service. I thought it was quite fine. The meal was good, I had no complaints about it. In the end after I finally ate at Parsafil, I would say I prefer this place for quality of food though not variety.

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Plain food and bad service - Edit

Zencefil was a disappointment.I had heard that it was Istanbul's oldest vegetarian restaurant with nice food and cozy atmosphere. But I actually thought it was very plain. The food seemed to be microwaved and it was not heated up enough. The taste of the three dishes we had was very plain. The staff was not friendly. I do not recommend this place.

Pros: vegetarian

Cons: plain, non-friendly, not inexpensive

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nice vegetarian options - Edit

They have very good vegetarian options and a few chicken ones for meat eating friends. We had lunch here and the setting was very nice. The food wasn't excellent but it was good and a nice break from just eating bread and cheese on the streets

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Delicious Meals,Comfortable Atmosphere - Edit

I went to Zencefil at early February.It's very comfortable to sit inside on cold weather.It's warm enough to feel good.The wall are decorated.The walls are old and cool,like antique.The interior is really well-designed.
We ordere a plenty of meals.There was a regular menu and ''todays specials'' menu on the wall.
Sphagetti with ginger sauce was very delicious.It tasted very well,both sphagetti and sauce.
Halep dolma (dried eggplant with stuffed lentils and rice) was very good.I guedd it was vegan.
Vegetable börek (pastry) was ok.
Pilav with something (I don't remember) was good and not very spicy.
Cabbage with mushrooms contained cheese and I wasn't sure whether it's with or withour rennet.So I didn't ate it.
Pumpkin pie was awesome!There was a lot of soft pumpkin puree and chopped nuts.It was served with pomegranate drops and a green leaf.
Karabaş ice-cream is an ice-cream made with karabaş (a tyoe of wild lavender).It has a very light taste and it is made there.
I totally suggest you the ginger sphagetti,halep dolma,pumpkin pie.
It's a very cool place.
Prices can be more reasonable.It's quiet expensive.
There were one or two meals made of chicken.I think they must vegetarianise this place.
The couvertuer was very good too,althought it wasn't for free...There was corn bread,butter with herbs and olive oil with dried herbs.
Sounds cool isn't it ?
It's in the city centre but it can be a bit dangerous to go there after dark.
Enjoy Zencefil and be vegetarian.

Pros: Delicious meals, Interior, Atmosphere

Cons: ''Almost'' vegetarian, Exspensive

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Unfriendly Staff, Overpriced Food - Edit

the last time, we went there with a group of 12 people. As always, the staff was arrogant. We had a small discussion about the tables outside. They said there are no enough space for other customers and wanted to move us inside but with a very rude attitude. Afterwards, we had a discussion and we left the shop.

Pros: Good Location

Cons: Arrogant Staff, Overpriced

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hmmm - Edit

I ordered the lentil patties, they were similar to cig kofte with a little salad. super expensive for not much. None of the bread is vegan. my partner had pasta.
Nothing special if you are vegan and just a few dishes for vegetarians. Not worth the money.

Cons: limited choice, expensive

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Overpriced - Edit

Okay food but not really worth the price.

Pros: Location

Cons: Price

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Not bad overpriced food - Edit

Having read HappyCow reviews we decided to visit this place during our stay in Istanbul. Like the reviewers wrote, Zenzefil's prices are very high compared to other Istanbul's places. They do charge additional 2 TL for bread and butter. Nevertheless, it is worth visiting if you are a vegetarian in Istanbul and not short of money. We enjoyed the food there. The restaurant is locaded in city center. The interior and inner garden are nice and unusual for this city.

Pros: Nice interior, Central location, Tasty food

Cons: Expensive, Additional charges

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nice one - Edit

this is a place one of the few ones who knows the what is vegan. because in turkey most of the restaurant employees don't know what is vegan. little bit expensive but ambiance and food is good.

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Pretty decent, but some shortcomings - Edit

Firstly, I have to say that this place is confusing, as it seems to alternate over time between pure vegetarian and meat-serving without much predictability. For what it's worth, I didn't see any meat on the menu at Zencefil today.

The place usually seems to be busy, (which is uncommon enough for a veggie restaurant in Istanbul), the main draw being the outside seating in a walled garden at the front. Just don't spoil the illusion by looking up at the concrete sides of the nearby buildings :)

For the privilege of your quasi-rural garden idyll, expect to pay about 25% over the odds compared to average Istanbul prices. And a 2TL "kuver" charge for the bread & butter - ok fair enough, but explaining that it's for a (single) plate of bread and then charging per person?

Price concerns aside, the food is good and I was pleasantly surprised to see that everything on the menu appeared to be vegetarian. There was also a considerable list of dishes of the day chalked up on a blackboard. For vegans, it might not be so great, although still worth a look, however a quick check on the day suggested that none of the dessert options were vegan (try Loving Hut or Govinda instead for vegan desserts). For a restaurant that trades on at least some reputation for vegetarian food, they could have done a bit more to indicate the dietary suitability of each dish.

We didn't have problems with the table service, it was quite fast when ordering and serving. Paying directly at the till circumvents any hassle trying to get attention when asking for the bill.

If you're not on too much of a budget and have time to try a few different veg. places in Istanbul, Zencefil is worth a visit.

Pros: Nice seating area, Not bad food, Central location

Cons: Veg. status unsure, Relatively expensive, Vegan desserts unavailable

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Dissapointing - Edit

The place is in dead center of istanbul.

It has a lovely garden and great atmosphere.

That is all the good i can say about it.

Our friends really went out of his way to find us a veg restaurant and I am sad that this place was the best recommended to him. It casts a dark cloud all over the whole plant eating thing.

It's called ginger, and they claim they put ginger into almost all of their foods. Well, I for one eat ginger almost every f***** day because it does wonder for my ailing wrists and joints, and I can assure you there is hardly any ginger in any of the dishes (especially the home made ginger drink).

The dishes are sized for kids up to 7 years of age. The prices are astronomical, and there is hardly anything vegan on the menu.

Like I said, i can not be thankful enough for people who bend over backwards to make their guests feel as best as possible ; so this place is quite a letdown due to itself.

Avoid.

Pros: nice atmosphere, good location

Cons: food, menu, prices

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Good food, nice place, but a bit overpriced - Edit

The quiche with leek was delicious, the stuffed dry aubergine was good and the green lasagna very good. Service rough but efficient, very nice setting, slightly overpriced for the small portions they serve.

Pros: tasty, nice place, central

Cons: overpriced, small portions

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Love - Edit

Great atmosphere, excellent ginger ale, fast service. I wish there were more vegan options but the ones offered are satisfying and tasty.

Pros: location, vegan friendly, ginger ale

Cons: not many vegan options

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ZENCEFIL - ISTANBUL - Edit

The place is nice and comfortable and they do have some vegetarian options available. Unfortunately, not too many vegetarian/vegan dishes are actually available, also when on the menu, and the portions are definitely too small. The quality of the food is not bad, though.

Cons: small portions, small choice

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Beautiful atmosphere, moderate prices - Edit

My friends and I (veg and non-veg) sometimes go to Zengefil (we are local). The menu doesn't have a very broad selection, but the foods are well prepared. As one reviewer noted, they usually do not come with a side, so if you want a salad or other side, you have to pay more, and it can add up.
That said, the food they do offer is quite good, their homemade fruit wines are very nice (sometimes we just stop in for a drink) and the garden is gorgeous.
I had breakfast there once, which was largely bread and cheese (traditional Turkish breakfast). It was very nice and a good selection, but cost more than I would usually pay for a similar breakfast.

Pros: Atmosphere, Well-prepared food, Fruit wine :)

Cons: Limited selection, Higher prices

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Lovely atmosphere, reasonable food - Edit

Visited on a warm summer evening and managed to get a seat in the garden, which was lovely. The food is reasonable with a very limited selection for vegans. I had the lentil patties, which as other reviewers have pointed out, were fine, though the portion was on the small side. My fiancee was not very hungry and opted for the courgettes, which were very simply spiced and cooked in olive oil. We shared a mixed salad which was the highlight of the meal, given the extensive use of fresh vegetables and black-eyed beans. Overall, the experience was pleasant, the atmosphere lovely and the food reasonable.

Pros: garden seating, vegan options

Cons: limited vegan options, reasonable but not outstanding food

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Food ok, but nothing special; nice atmosphere - Edit

We were rather disappointed by the food here, given the reputation it seems to have and the good reviews we had read previous to our visit. The restaurant is pleasant, and clearly quite popular, judging by the fact it was nearly full on both our visits. There was nothing wrong with the food as such, but there was no particular flair in the execution of the dishes. The range of dishes on offer sounded good by their descriptions, but the various dishes we tried were rather bland - this seems unforgivable and unfathomable in a city where spices and herbs are available in abundance! For instance, the lentil patties I had on one visit were presented without any garnish, without a side salad, and were poorly seasoned/spiced - had it not been for the accompanying relish, I would not have been able to eat that dish. I rather resented paying the 11,50 TL for the SMALL portion of this not-very-tasty dish. If you are looking for a really memorable and satisfying vegetarian meal in Istanbul, go across the road instead to Parsifal!

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Ok Food, Terrible Service - Edit

Went in here last Monday on our last night of a 5 night stay in Istanbul.Pleasant surroundings, as there was no seats we sat outside(big mistake).After about 15 mins no menus, nothing, no problem I went into the restaurant to get them.The waiter met me "Oh I will bring them, sit down" so it wasn't a self service restaurant after all.The menu hasn't a great selection, but there was also a blackboard, we made our choices and waited and waited.Eventually I went into the restaurant to order.The starters and mains all came together a half carafe of wine and beer we waited for.The food wasnt bad but I noticed no garnish of salad on the side of our lentil patties, or Borek.Considering most of the food we ordered was all pre-made,I can't imagine why the service was so bad.My pesto penne was the only dish that needed cooking.So we were left outside, not one waiter came out to ask us if we wanted dessert,we managed to catch one eventually and ordered coffee and desserts.A rich chocolate cake, which tasted lovely, but again not much work involved.The worst was yet to come, we went to pay our bill and it was 175TL! On close inspection of the bill we had been charged twice for the wine carafe and glass of beer.Overall I was really disappointed to waste my last night in Istanbul in this restaurant, maybe they were having a bad night,maybe all the waiters were new or had beamed down from Mars and couldn't understand the concept of how a restaurant works!I wouldn't recommend seeking this restaurant out for dinner, maybe lunch would be better, but thats something I will never know.

Pros: pleasant interior

Cons: expensive, bad service

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