Cook your own meat in a beautiful garden at Floryalı Restaurant

Cook your own meat in a beautiful garden at Floryalı Restaurant

Cook your own meat in a beautiful garden at Floryalı Restaurant Floryalı, meaning "from Florya" (a neighborhood of Istanbul) is a restaurant located between Narlıdere and Güzelbahçe on the Güzelbahçe coastal road, just outside the Aegean city of İzmir.

The owner, Zafer Üçel, arrived from Florya, Istanbul, in 1999 and has brought in the style of “kendin pişir kendin ye,” roughly translated as “you cook, you eat,” at his restaurant, making it one of the most popular eateries along the route.

Concept behind ‘Kendin pişir kendin ye’

The Turkish phrase “kendin pişir kendin ye” can be read on signs outside restaurants throughout Turkey. Anyone with even a little knowledge or understanding of Turkish would (somewhat rightly) interpret the phrase as “cook yourself, eat yourself,” however it’s not an advert for some bizarre self-cannibalistic eatery. It is a sign to inform customers that the restaurant operates a “self-to-self catering” system, and basically means customers are encouraged to BBQ their own food. 

The main principle behind the style of the restaurant is that customers can select their meat and grill it themselves while paying the same, or slightly less, as a regular restaurant for the meal. The restaurant prepares the charcoal at the beginning of the day’s service and it remains smoldering in a stockpile. When new customers arrive, the ready-to-use coal is shoveled into a BBQ at the table.

Customers are offered the chance to select their meat from a variety of freshly prepared cuts and pre-prepared kebabs, and also have the option of choosing from a range of mezes and side dishes, at a comparable rate to other restaurants in the area. 

The town of Güzelbahçe situated just 10 minutes from İzmir city center has a selection of these types of restaurants along the coastal road. The Floryalı Restaurant is one of the newest and most popular, offering diners the chance to sit inside as well as outside due to the independent brick and stone fire pits which have been constructed alongside every indoor table in addition to the typical metal framed BBQs outside on the terrace. Floryalı has an elaborate extraction system that ensures the smoke flows directly away from the table. 

All 27 waiters at Floryalı are quick and efficient but it is the quality of food that makes the restaurant a cut above the rest. The choice of meat is extensive and ranges from chicken cuts, chicken kebabs, beef steaks, köfte (meatball) with varying herbs and spices, lamb chops, mixed meat kebab and more. 

The meze and side dishes list is similarly long, but with “kendin pişir kendin ye” there’s the added option of picking singular portions of peppers, onion rings or half beefsteak tomatoes along with the option of mixed salads, dips and fried options (which you’re not expected to cook yourself!).

The seating outside is comfortable and casual, accommodating approximately 200 guests. The picnic style bench and tables are large enough for a group of six or snugly for eight. The stone terrace is spacious with room between tables to avoid crowding during the busy weekends. The internal space, meanwhile, has a capacity for approximately 100. 

Admittedly the restaurant is on a main through road, but there’s ample off-road parking, which the car park attendants are happy to assist with. But once inside the garden area, you hardly notice the road outside. The restaurant is at the Narlıdere end of the Güzelbahçe coastal route and across the road from the seashore, making an evening stroll along the promenade after dinner a great way to round off the night or afternoon.

A meal for two, with a small bottle of rakı costs approximately 70 Turkish Liras. The Floryalı Restaurant is currently closed for renovations and is due to open the first weekend of May.

Address: Floryalı Restoran

Maltepe Mah. Mithat Paşa Cad. No.19

Güzelbahçe, İzmir

Phone: +90 232 234 0075


Pros for ‘you-cook-you-eat’ restaurants 

* Alfresco dining: The majority of these types of restaurants are open all year round, offering the chance to eat outside, whatever the weather – usually under a canopy of some kind – in a relaxing and casual atmosphere.

* Cooked to perfection: The chance to cook your meat as you like it; steak as rare as you want or lamb chops grilled until crunchy. The choice is yours.

* Picnicking without preparation: The majority of “kendin pişir kendin ye” (you-cook-you-eat) restaurants have a very casual feel about them. The atmosphere could be likened to having a picnic – but without all the hassle of planning or food preparation.

* Cook yourself but leave the dishes to someone else: Although you cook the food, the side dishes and drinks are served at your table and the dishes are certainly someone else’s responsibility! 

The downsides are few, with perhaps the only significant drawback to this type of dining being the unpredictable weather – if it’s very windy the smoke can blow around the table or if the BBQs are fixed in place and someone may have to eat their meal in a cloud of smoke.

10-minute drive from İzmir

Güzelbahçe is a sprawling coastal town situated on the outskirts of İzmir, just a 10-minute drive from the shopping district of Balçova.

The center of the original village is hidden from view, protected high upon a hillside giving an impression of a quaint traditional Turkish mountain village. In contrast, the land surrounding Güzelbahçe has been developed by construction companies who have built large housing complexes and apartment blocks.

The district has a selection of shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, most of which are dotted along the coastal road and many visitors would be fooled into thinking that’s all there is to Güzelbahçe. However, there’s a whole lot more, with a variety of popular private schools, a large Friday market and an amphitheater that frequently hosts events such as seasonal festivals and concerts.