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. Closed Sunday.

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

Reviews (30)

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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