Istanbul’s top 10 cafés
If you’re in search of a hearty salad or just a cup of coffee the solution lies in a café. We have complied a list of the best cafes in Istanbul.
Istanbul’s best buffet restaurants
Are you full or are you overwhelmed at the sight of all this food? Rows of food and generous portions await!
Istanbul's best ice cream shops
This list includes a scoop of ice cream for everyone, from those in search of unique tastes to those looking for classic flavors.
Istanbul’s best meatballs
Dozens of different techniques, meatballs each more delicious than the other. Get ready to go on a meatball journey to find the one you love the most!
Latest restaurant reviews
ANDREA IS NAMED AFTER the Aya Andrea Church built in 1867 as lodging for Russian pilgrims arriving in Istanbul on their way to Jerusalem. The restaurant is located in the renovated guesthouse of the church, whose top floor is still used as a chapel. The waiters happily show guests around the two-and-a-half story space, including the mezzanine. As soon as you enter the restaurant your eyes will be drawn towards the large chandelier and colorful wingback chairs. On the second floor you’ll find two elegant rooms that are better suited for formal dinners. You can also rent out these rooms for private events or dinners of up to 10 people. The restaurant’s chef is MSA graduate Pelin Aslan, whose boneless chicken wings are quite popular. They’re reminiscent of General Tso’s chicken, but with a hint of tamarind in the sauce. Just about every main course comes with a different take on potatoes: fries with truffle oil and parmesan are served alongside the Café de Paris steak, potato confit with mustard sauce alongside the chicken schnitzel, and potato puree with truffle oil alongside the chicken with parmesan. On weekends after 22.00, the lights are dimmed and the music is turned up – and suddenly this historic building turns into Karaköy’s newest party locale.
Unless you're willing to venture into the back streets of İstiklal, it’s hard to find an affordable restaurant in Taksim – especially if you’re looking for a more refined eatery. Now, a brand new restaurant looks poised to fill the void. Located on the ground floor of InterContinental Istanbul, Eden Istanbul is the latest feat by popular restaurateur Aliye Turagay, whose previous projects include restaurants like Bird, Flamingo and Fenix as well as the health-conscious Atelier Raw. In fact, Eden occupies the same space as the now-closed Flamingo, and it even makes use of its predecessor’s décor. The interior, designed by the Istanbul-based multidisciplinary design studio Autoban, offers a touch of timeless elegance with a blend of brass, wood and marble elements, while the abundant greenery lends the space an airy feel. Where Turagay sought to do an overhaul was the menu: traditional dishes like stuffed grape leaves (14 TL), cracked wheat salad (10 TL) and crispy mantı (15 TL) counterbalance options like seafood and celery salad (30 TL) and pizzette with chicken and currants (15 TL). Add to that the reasonable prices, the cool veranda, the flavorful cocktails and dinner menu, and you’ve got yourself a place that’s truly deserving of its name.
Simply put, Farfara does justice to the cuisine of Hatay, whose most popular dishes include kaytaz böreği (pastry with ground beef and tomato paste), katıklı ekmek (a mini pide with dry-curd cottage cheese and spices) and içli köfte (bulgur patties stuffed with ground beef). The brainchild of Özyeğin University chef instructor Osman Bahadır, the eatery serves a delicious assorted platter (24 TL), which comes with the abovementioned dishes as well as eight etli sarma (grape leaves stuffed with ground beef). The sarma are perfectly skinny, and you’ll immediately notice the tart taste of real pomegranate molasses. There are also salads, sandwiches and köftes as well as a daily changing menu of lunch specials. The only acceptable excuse for passing on traditional Hatay dishes is to try the Farfara burger (17 TL), which comes with hummus and muhammara (a garlicky hot pepper dip with crushed walnuts, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice) on homemade buns and potato chips. With so many flavorful options, one visit just won’t be enough.
LoL Coffee Roasters
YET ANOTHER COFFEE SHOP,” we can almost hear you thinking to yourself, but trust us when we say that LoL is different from the rest. Managed by 2013 Turkish Barista Champion Serkan İpekli, this coffee shop prides itself on its well-trained team of baristas. The brew bar stays open until 19.00 and features all of the gadgets we’ve come to expect from Third Wave Coffee joints such as the V60, Aeropress and Clever. LoL appeals to true coffee aficionados with rare finds like cold brew aged in a New Orleans-style oak barrel, but the staff is far from conceited – in fact, they’re modest enough to claim they’re just “doing their own thing.” Those who like to flavor their coffee should note that LoL shies away from using artificial sweeteners: instead, they offer several blends with organic sugar, like their homemade ginger-cinnamon tonic. Don’t miss out on the snacks, either: whether you opt for the bread topped with ricotta cheese, figs and honey or the roast beef and gravyer cheese sandwich, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with the breads made by Istanbul-based sourdough master Tom Fellows. WHAT IS IT…The best coffee shop we’ve discovered of late. WHY GO…For its high-quality coffee and delicious sandwiches.
Yasu Baba Köfte Salonu
YASU BABA IS THE NEWEST EATERY by Ferit Sarper, the restaurateur behind chic gastrobar Gaspar and the original modern meyhane, Münferit. This time, however, Sarper chose to focus his efforts on a simple köfte (Turkish meatball) shop, the likes of which you’ll find in every neighborhood. It’s as understated as they come, with modern furniture and a succinct menu of soup, köfte, piyaz (beans with onions in olive oil), rice, cacık (diced cucumber, garlic and mint in diluted yogurt) and just one dessert. Yasu Baba’s table for six has already gained popularity with white-collar lunchtime crowds. The köfte comes with spicy tomato paste, French fries, roasted peppers and onion. It’s simple fare, but nothing disappoints: the köfte is tender and the piyaz is flavorful enough to have us inquiring about the spices used in it. Don’t be fooled by the fame of its owner: the prices at Yasu Baba are quite reasonable, with köfte going for 15 TL, half-loaf sandwich for 10 TL and piyaz for 4 TL. Don’t forget to try the Kemalpaşa dessert with caramel. WHAT IS IT…An understated köfte joint. WHY GO…To enjoy tasty köfte and piyaz in a clean, well-kept setting.
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Gangon - Keep on truckin
Anyone who's ever watched the American reality TV series Late Nite Chef Fight will be familiar with the notion of elite Las Vegas chefs duking it out to prepare the best dishes they can using leftover ingredients in a food truck. The joy you see on the faces of people who taste these recipes doesn’t just make for great television: it’s also solid proof that food trucks aren’t to be taken lightly. If you find yourself salivating over these chefs’ inventive recipes, we’re happy to introduce you to an Istanbul-based food truck that’s guaranteed to win you over. MEET GANGONThe name “Gangon” is a variant on the Turkish word “kamyon” (“truck”) as pronounced by a three-year-old. Specifically, it’s borrowed from a young boy named Ali, the son of lawyer and part-time chef Can Gafuroğlu. The food truck Gafuroğlu started with his friends is best described as a mobile restaurant project, one that sells sandwiches prepped by experienced chefs at festivals and other outdoor events. Gangon isn’t the first gastronomic project by Gafuroğlu, who continues to work as a lawyer during the day. He previously collaborated with the catering company The Food Project, hijacked work spaces with the mobile kitchen unit Kitchen Guerilla, and experimented with Anatolian cuisine for Gastronomika. “I’ve got quite a few friends whose kitchens I miss,” Gafuroğlu admits, but he’s happy to rely on a few of those friends’ support for Gangon. Some of the talented locals lending a hand include fellow Kitchen Gue
Interview: Can Oba
Gastronomes know him as the man who worked with Michelin-starred Chef Alfons Schuhbeck before opening his own fine-dining restaurant among the kebab shops in Sirkeci. Average Turks recognize him as the TV chef who promotes regional ingredients on CNN Türk. A few months ago, he made national headlines when he flew to New York to receive the BID International Quality Summit Award 2016 for his work at Can Oba Restaurant. So how did Can Oba achieve all this with a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Sirkeci?Oba is someone doesn’t hesitate to issue a challenge, yet who can be incredibly modest at times. “When I was a kid, I couldn’t even break an egg,” he says as he recounts his early years in the business: while working at a bar in Germany, one day Oba finds himself in the kitchen, assisting the chef – who, upon noticing Oba’s talent, recommends that he train under Schuhbeck. Train he does, for eight years, before going on to work at various restaurants in the U.S. and Latin America. Upon his return to Turkey, Oba opens a restaurant on a side street in Sirkeci, surrounded by kebab shops… And the rest, as they say, is history: the restaurant becomes so successful with both Turkish and international gourmets that it’s nearly impossible to reserve a table in its first year, thus cementing Can Oba as one of the most recognized chefs in Turkey. Oba is quite candid about his success. “This restaurant is the most important thing to happen in recent years in the world of gastronomy – doing f