Where to Eat in Istanbul
I had heard that Istanbul is an up and coming city for its great food, chefs and restaurants, so I was dying to try a few of them on my trip.
Here are my recommendations and a few more that I didn't manage to try but look great!
Tucked away down Yeni Carsi Caddesi, this chic restaurant and bar serves outstanding Turkish classics with a modern twist. Chef Ferit Sarper's menu is full of small dishes to share so it's best to go with a group so you can try as much as possible. The waitstaff are knowledgeable about the food and make great recommendations. The handsomely dark architecture was designed by the hip design team, Autoban. Recommended dishes: squid ink couscous with calamari and Çikolatalı Lokma (Turkish style doughnuts with chocolate). Bookings recommended.
Firuzağa Mahallesi, Yeni Carsi Caddesi No: 19, Beyoğlu, Istanbul
Tel: +90 212 252 5067
Off bustling Istiklal Avenue sits Yeni Lokanta. A new addition to the city, opening last year, Yeni Lokanta is a must-try for any visitor. A venture of Chef Civan Er, the food is unmistakably Turkish, but lighter, fresher and more innovative than most. The tasting menu is definitely worth the money plus you get to try a little bit of everything. Bookings recommended.
Kumbaracı Yokuşu, No:66, Beyoğlu, Istanbul
Tel: +90 212 2922550
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, this is the cafe that never sleeps. Very cheap and very yummy. Come for breakfast and make sure you try the cay (tea), lahmacun (a type of thin, crispy Turkish pizza) from their wood-fired oven and sucuklu melemen (a spicy mix of peppers, eggs and local sausage). For a traditional drink, try ayran (yogurt drink with salt).
Ağahamam Caddesi, No:1, Cihangir, Istanbul
Bilice Kebap is located off Istiklal Avenue. This amazing little kebap place is simple and unassuming, it's the overflow of customers that gives this winner away. Specialising in kebaps, you'll walk away very satisfied.
Asmali Mescit Caddesi, No: 8, Beyoğlu, Istanbul
Tel: +90 212 2444447
A hit with the tourists, this lovely little restaurant is found down the winding side streets in Beyoğlu. There is no menu, the owner/chef cooks a range of dishes and you pick out your selection from there. Affordable and cheerful, a nice place for a good home cooked meal. The home made wine is surprisingly quite nice as well.
Kuloğlu Mah. Faik Paşa Caddesi, No: 6 Çukurcuma, Beyoğlu, Istanbul
Tel: +90 212 244 35 13
I didn't manage to eat at Gram Pera but it was next on my list. This little eatery has a constant rotation of fresh ingredient inspired dishes that offer an innovative take on lunch time. Gram has an informal kitchen in the back where a daily buffet of cold starters can be picked out. Sugar addicts are not neglected, with the bakery section in front offering delicious pastries. Cosy-up on the communal tables and enjoy the bright atmosphere.
Asmalı Mescit Mah., Meşrutiyet Caddesi, No: 107/D, İstiklal, Istanbul
Tel: +90 212 243 1048
Another restaurant that I didn't have time to try was Meze by Lemon Tree. Gençay Üçok, one of Istanbul’s innovative young chefs, reinterprets Turkish mezes using seasonal local ingredients at Meze by Lemon Tree. With less than 40 seats, all of the dishes demonstrate Turkish flavours with a modern twist. Bookings recommended.
Meşrutiyet Caddesi, No: 83/b, Beyoğlu/Şişhane, Istanbul
Tel: +90 212 252 8302