Every country has its own customs and traditions when it comes to dining out. In Turkey, most meals actually take place in the home because homemade food is considered the best there is. Also if there is something to celebrate, it is much more common to invite people to your home then to go to a restaurant. However, there are some important customs to take into account when you are going out for dinner in Turkey. Turkey is a country where politeness and respect are very much appreciated and you will often hear “hos geldiniz” when you enter an establishment. This means “welcome” and you should reply with “hos bulduk” which means “we feel welcome”. Of course, it is not expected for every foreigner to know Turkish so a simple “thank you” would also suffice however you will make a very good impression if you remember these two words!
When going out for dinner, what customs should you take into account?
- Order each dish as you want it
In Turkey, it is common to order each dish as you want it, instead of ordering everything at the beginning of the meal. Although nobody will make a problem if you do order everything at the same time, why not try this local custom and order as you go?
- Make eye contact with waiters
It is considered very rude to wave or shout at the waiters or waitresses to get their attention. Never do this in a restaurant. Make eye contact with them if you need something. In general, making eye contact is very important in Turkey so it´s very much appreciated if you make and keep eye contact when speaking with people. Maintain this tradition by treating the people that serve you with the respect they deserve, always make eye contact before asking them something and never just shout or wave to get their attention.
- Don´t make conversation when sharing a table
It is quite common in Turkey to be sharing a table with other guests in the restaurant. You might feel obliged to make conversation with your table partners but this is not necessary and even considered unwanted. So don´t try to break the ice or to be polite, just mind your own dining company and let the other guests sitting at your table do the same.
- If you eat with your hands, use your right hand only
In Turkey, food is eaten with normal cutlery so you would eat most dishes with fork and knife. However, chicken is usually eaten with the hands. If you decide to dive into your chicken with your hands, make sure to use your right hand only. The left hand should never be used for food. Although it is custom to eat chicken by hand, this practice applies to everything you eat by hand, use your right hand only.
- Don´t eat on the street during Ramadan
There is a large Muslim population in Turkey and during Ramadan, they are not allowed to eat between sunrise and sunset. This is a very important custom for Muslims and, as you can imagine, it is not always easy to not eat or drink anything for such a long time. Therefore, it is considered polite to not eat or drink on the street during Ramadan. Take this into account when you´re visiting Turkey during this period.
A lot of it is just common sense, however, these 5 customers are very important when you dine out in Turkey so make sure to respect them.