Restaurants & Cafés

How to truly experience Istanbul's culinary scene

Bey Lokantası
Restaurants

Bey Lokantası

OLIGARK is a new food/drink and entertainment complex housing eight restaurants and a night club in Kuruçeşme, where elegantly-dressed customers step out of expensive cars and hand the keys off to the valet before making a lofty entry. Bey Lokantası is among the first establishments to open in the complex, which sits side by side with the Bosphorus. The interior of the restaurant, which can seat 200 people when the terrace is open, is classic, sophisticated and sparkling. The antique, framed oriental paintings on the walls, the paneling made from wood and bold fabrics and the enticing smells that reach the nose while wandering amid the tables are part of a luxurious design prioritizing comfort and the senses. The open kitchen is managed by Umut Karakuş, who was awarded Best Chef at the 17th Time Out Istanbul Food & Drink Awards. The menu reflects Karakuş’s experience and career, who began as a trainee at Le Cordon Bleu before becoming the chef of important establishments including Duble Meze Bar and Fairmont Quasar Aila. While the menu features dishes that represent all the regions of Turkey, its interpretations of local and traditional recipes bear the modern image of fine dining. Among the chef’s signature dishes are cold star ters such as pastırma turşusu (pickled pastrami, 80 TL) and the Armenian eggplant-based meze, nazuktan (55 TL). The main dishes also include abdigor köftesi (90 TL), a speciality of the province of Doğubayazıt. The meatballs are served with a sauce d

Mika Lokanta
Restaurants

Mika Lokanta

WHEN SEZEN BAYRAK GÜREL left his academic career to follow his passion for cooking, he started at the lowest rung of the kitchen hierarchy at Kantin in Nişantaşı, later working by the side of Murat Bozok and improving his cooking techniques in the process. Mika, which opened its doors in Maslak, is the fruit of his labor. Nowadays, Gürel is training new chefs under his wing, and is continuing to serve the delicious ekşili köfte – known to cause lines out the door – in Nişantaşı. The interior of Mika Lokanta’s new location is much larger and Gürel has prioritized the concept of ‘comfort food’ on his menu, which features regional delights made with ingredients that are sourced from where the dishes originate. The Etli kuru dolma (36 TL), for example, is made with haylan kabağı from Gaziantep. The pumpkin (18 TL) that is enriched with pastırma from Kastamonu and tulum peynir is another starter that will tantalize your palate, while what seals the deal for the salmon köfte (50 TL) is the broccoli stuffed inside. Gürel, who is fond of spices such as tarragon, marjoram, and purple basil, adds his own interpretation to well-known dishes, and we loved his use of different sauces and spices. With Mika, there is a new alternative in Nisantaşı for those wanting healthy portions of food in a sleek ambience.  

Lüsyen Karaköy
Restaurants

Lüsyen Karaköy

LÜSYEN RECENTLY OPENED in Karaköy’s Fransız Geçidi in the space formerly occupied by Bej. The name comes from a French woman who crossed paths with iconic figures such as Tevfik Fikret, Nazım Hikmet and İsmet İnönü and who was once involved with the playwright Abdülhak Hamid Tarhan. She even once shared a dance with Atatürk. Apart from the name, there is also a feeling of France in the air at Lüsyen. Inside the lounge, there is an elegant bar and a stage in the corner with a red floor. The marvelous chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and the long curtains on the windows evoke a cabaret-like atmosphere. The tables are huddled close together for the purpose of ensuring a sincere atmosphere. After their many years in the restaurant business, owners Mert Özsarıkaya and Doğan Akbaş have finally opened their own establishment with Lüsyen. While the decor and ambience create a European feel, the menu and the music remain traditional. They highlight that this is not a ‘new-generation’ meyhane, and have made a point to create a genuine atmosphere for live music. One of the mezes that got our attention was the aşk otu (20 TL), a dish similar to samphire. The basil spread with roasted pistachios (20 TL) and the ahtapot beğendi (50 TL), an octopus dish, are among the original dishes on the menu. The tuzda balık (320 TL) can be easily shared between four people. Lüsyen opens early for lunch but the real fun naturally starts in the evening. Based on the phone calls the waiters take thro

Tiraje Teras
Restaurants

Tiraje Teras

LOCATED ON THE TOP FLOOR of Nish Palas in Nişantası, Tiraje Teras offers one of the most impressive views in the city, looking out over the neighborhood and beckoning toward the Bosphorus and the Anatolian side of Istanbul. Chef Bahadır Abul, who runs the kitchen at Tiraje Teras as well as that of Glens, the Italian restaurant on the ground floor of Nish Palas, generates a keen energy and discusses the menu with a sense of gratification indicating that he loves his line of work. There is a major influence of the Aegean region in the kitchen. Olives come from Urla while white cheese is brought in from Alaçatı. Among our favorite mezes was atom (spicy peppers in yogurt), the level of spice of which was quite balanced. The Girit ezmesi (27 TL) is made with lor and Ezine cheese and enhanced with truffle oil. The lakerda (32 TL) is inspired by a smoked salmon recipe and is prepared with cilantro seeds and orange oil and is delicious. The soft touch of the octopus salad (68 TL) is a testament to the chef’s skill. In terms of hot appetizers, the Izmir atom kokoreç (55 TL) is recommended. The iç midye tempura (28 TL) is served under a layer of avocado puree. Come to Tiraje before the sun sets and be calmly serenaded by the sweet meyhane music playing on the stereo before sampling the excellent meze served here.  

Cachette
Restaurants

Cachette

TUCKED AWAY IN SARIYER, Cachette is decorated with the grace of a curator and decked out in objects manager Aslı Soyak has collected throught her life. While passing the tables that are arranged side by side, it is impossible to take your eyes off the walls, which are covered in elegantly-framed mirrors in different sizes. In the kitchen is the experienced and skillful Güniz Dalver, who spent months with Koyak to create a unique, healthy menu focused on legumes and vegetables but which does not neglect meat lovers. The stracci (50 TL) is a brilliant pasta made to order and served with a delicious sauce made from green onions, mushrooms and arugula, while the vegetable kinoa köfte (45 TL) is prepared with an avocado sauce. The Cachette breakfast (70 TL) is loaded with different selections, and the ham and cheese puff pastries are enough to whet one’s appetite.  

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