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Istanbul's best cafes

If you’re in search of a hearty salad or just a cup of coffee the solution lies in a cafe. We have compiled a list of the best cafes in Istanbul.

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Ara Cafe

Restaurants Cafés İstiklal Caddesi

The interior of this Beyoğlu favourite is lined with awe-inspiring photographs taken by legendary Turkish-Armenian photographer Ara Güler, the café's owner and namesake. The menu and drinks are dependable if a bit overpriced, while both interior and exterior settings make for a great place to sit and enjoy the surrounding buzz of the area.

Cuma

Restaurants Çukurcuma

Cuma opened in the Çukurcuma neighborhood four months ago and is already a firm local favorite. Located just a hundred meters from author Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence and behind a line of antique shops, its breezy terrace is transporting, creating an almost tropical vibe. Up the narrow stairs in the century-old building, visitors will find a small house-restaurant, complete with entrance area, kitchen, living room, dining hall with antique decor, even toys on the shelves – all adding up to a very homey, vintage feel. Owner Banu Tiryakioğulları graduated from the Culinary Arts Academy in Maslak and previously worked as a chef at the much-acclaimed restaurant Changa. She says that once she saw the space that is now Cuma, she knew it had to be a restaurant. (The name comes from old French maps of Çukurcuma, on which the area was called Djouma.) Tiryakioğulları gets her ingredients as locally as possible – most come from the Feriköy organic market and the Kastamonu market in Kasımpaşa, while dairy and olive products make their way across the Marmara sea from Bandırma. As soon as we sit down, we are greeted with toasted bread and a mouthwatering pepper paste. Cuma’s menu is heavily focused on Turkish cuisine – the egg-tomato-and-pepper dish menemen, eggs with sucuk (spicy beef sausage), a cheese-and-fresh-herb omelet, and a variety of toasted sandwiches – but also offers other selections such as gazpacho and eggplant-tomato linguini. A lunch menu that changes daily feature

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Dandin Bakery: Karaköy’s beloved patisserie

Restaurants Tarlabaşı

It’s been a few months since we started to hear the name Dandin just about everywhere and see it tagged regularly on social media. It seemed to have appeared overnight, but when we first went to visit, we came across a tiny note that informed us that Dandin Bakery was undergoing renovation. We thought too much attention might have exhausted the shop and started to await its reopening. Thankfully, Karaköy’s new sweet spot reopened with a slightly bigger space. Owners Esra Dandin and Egemen Senkardes wanted to ensure that the kitchen was spacious enough to embrace visitors as soon as they came in and offer them a show as the cakes, pastries and drinks are being prepared. The previously vacant top floor now accommodates five or six tables.     The breakfast menu offers teas, coffees and frappes as well as hard-to-find dishes such as avocado on toast with goat cheese and scrambled eggs (26 TL) or scones with blackberry or sour cream jam and blueberry cream. The bakery isn’t a stickler for rules, either, so there’s room for alterations to the breakfast menu. Yet Dandin’s tour de force is undoubtedly the cake and pastry buffet, where you’ll find tantalizing treats made fresh each day. Their reasonable prices (8-15 TL) make them a perfect option for indecisive carb-lovers. The refreshed and updated Dandin has once again become Karako¨y’s favorite. Give it a try. Erçag Akın

FiLBooks

Shopping Bookshops Karaköy

A haven for Istanbul's photography fanatics, FiLBooks boasts an extensive photo-book library and doubles as a cafe where workshops are organized. Standing out with its pastel colors and tranquil decorations, FiLBooks is one of Karaköy's quaintest spots, offering everything from journals and children’s books to independent presses and gift items. This bookshop also hosts ateliers, talks, round-tables, and interviews about art and photography. The legendary photographer Martin Parr was one of its many famous visitors in recent memory. The excitement of the team behind FiL, led by Cemre Yeşil who teaches contemporary photography at Bilgi University, is the main drive behind the bookshop's popularity. They know that an experienced barista isn’t what is going to distinguish them from the many other cafes in Karaköy, although they can certainly tick that box.

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Şimdi

Bars and pubs Café bars Asmalımescit

Hidden away on a side street descending away from the hustle and bustle of İstiklal Caddesi lies Şimdi, a cosy café, bar and restaurant that has weathered the storm and remained on its feet while a number of its neighbors closed down in the past few years. Its endurance is due in no small measure to its laid-back vibe, which makes it a great spot for an early morning coffee or after-work drinks.

180° Coffee Bakery

Restaurants Moda

Their dessert menu and counter will take your breath away the moment you walk in. Take a look at the library at the entrance; you can leave the book you finished and head out with a new one. The apple crumble and date cake are competing with each other for best flavor. Don’t worry about which one to pick, order them both and enjoy. 

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Mums Cafe

Restaurants Karaköy

Reflecting the peaceful atmosphere of the French Passage, Mums Cafes has delicious homemade jams you shouldn’t leave Karaköy without trying. Whispers of the homemade milk jam roam the streets of Istanbul like a legend. The jams were created with those who might want to take it home in mind; they are sold in cute jars. The smoked salmon and asparagus is perfect for those who love original flavors and a great option with tea. Mum’s menu is simpler compared to others. The owners’ 15 years of experience in Sweden played a big role in creating the space; while adapting to the fast-paced lifestyle the decoration creates a more intimate atmosphere. The continuous presence of Yıldız Dural’s beloved mother in Mum’s makes this intimate touch permanent. Mums means “my mother”, and “flavor” in Swedish. 

Dem Karaköy

Restaurants Cafés Karaköy

In addition to white, green, oolong, black, smoked, and fermented teas Dem features a varied menu including red tea and herbal teas; a menu catering to every palate. For those who find it hard to make a decision among the 60 teas available, partaking in the ‘tea smelling’ sessions can help. The tea varieties are brought to your table and after smelling them and getting information about them you can pick the one you like the most. The venue’s operator Eylül Görmüş created recipes specifically intended to complement the teas. For example the red plum sauce pear dessert with pişmaniye (a Turkish sweet in fine strands) goes perfectly with one of the tree types of Turkish teas. What is tea without breakfast? To accompany your tea Dem also offers a classic breakfast plate, simit and white cheese, menemen (eggs with vegetables) and börek varieties, as well as croque-madame and croque monsieur.

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Ops Cafe

Restaurants Karaköy

The small and open kitchen is like a living extension of the venue, producing flavors that reflect the venues spirit. The Albanian breakfast, eski kaşar (a type of old cheddar), feta cheese, and örgü peynir (a type of braided mozzarella) comes with the Albaian salad, dry meat with delicious yet discrete peppers unique to the Bosnian kitchen. Breakfast is served all day. All of the delicatessen products come from specific villages. Options flavored with dry meat are plenty, the dry meat cheese Balkan toast being one of them. In addition to breakfast and toasts the menu features salads, durums (wraps), pastas and desserts. The homemade lemonade is the perfect consistency of sweet and sour. 

Dem Moda

Restaurants Moda

The newly revamped Dem Moda The Moda branch of Dem, a modern rendition of a traditional Turkish tea room, is at your disposal with an upgraded menu and interior. The worlds of art and tea are mingled together in this newly refurbished space, with works by Moda-native artists now gracing its walls. Exhibited works include installation artist Eda Soylu’s ‘Wallpaper’, created through the embedding of flowers in concrete. A piece made by Ebru Yalkın using tea bags is also on display at Dem. Although this spot is celebrated for their delicious cheesecakes, we’d also like to bring some of their new simit-centered plates to your attention. Dem’s simit skewers, simit bruschetta, and avocado and poached egged Smith Benedict are a few we recommend!

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Kev Cafe

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Moda

Although it might take only a couple of minutes to traverse, Bademaltı Sokak – the street running from Moda Caddesi toward the Moda Elementary School – is home to five or six eateries at present. One of the newest establishments here is Kev Cafe, where round-the-clock crowds prove there’s no slowing down in either supply or demand when it comes to cafes in Moda. It’s no surprise that people are drawn in by the cafe’s welcoming vibe – the blend of metal and wooden furniture includes the greatest (decorative) hits of modern cafes such as colorful metal chairs, bare light bulbs dangling from the ceiling and, of course, an open kitchen. Kev serves all sorts of hot and iced coffees, homemade lemonades and iced teas as well as frozen beverages. If you happen to go for breakfast, we recommend the stacked pancakes, which can be made sweet with jam and chocolate or savory with ham and cheese. In the mood for a full meal? Try the crispy mantı (Turkish ravioli with minced meat) served with yogurt and spices. 

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Suppla Broth Co.

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Kadıköy

What is it? A bone broth joint in Kalamış. Why go? To experience healing with their light recipes. Upon discovering the healing effects of bone broth through adopting an Ayurvedic diet, Simge Uzkurt Bodur decided to pass on her findings in the form of Suppla Broth Co. Run by Simge and her husband Alper Bodur in Fenerbahçe, the concept behind this bone broth joint is the only one of its kind in the country. Producing their broth in-house, the couple are careful to only use the bones of animals who have never been exposed to antibiotics. Their recipes are fun, interesting, and pleasantly slurpable. Containing collagen, amino acids, minerals, glucosamine, vitamins and healthy fats, Bone Broth can help tend to a number of bodily issues. Kickstart your healing process with one of their artisinal bone broth drinks. Served hot, Hızlan (16 TL) takes its name from the metabolism-boosting properties of turmeric. For those of you who would prefer a cold one instead, order Terapi (25) for refreshing hints of coconut milk, mulberry molasses and cocoa. As for the mains, we highly reccomend Gazpacho soup (24 TL) that comes with a bone marrow broth.

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Daire 1

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Bebek

Veteran restaurateur Lal Dedeoğlu’s new venue Daire 1 has fast become one of the city’s hardest eateries to get into, proving once more that sometimes the secret to making a venue popular is to keep it as tiny (and therefore exclusive) as you can. However, once you do manage to get in and find room to sit, you’ll be surprised at just laid-back the vibe here is, as the space is decorated with a selection of nostalgic furniture that feels more grandmotherly than glam. In terms of food, Daire 1 serves a daily menu of home-cooked recipes like stuffed zucchini and tas kebabı as well as classics like the panzanella salad – a favorite of regulars at Dedeoğlu’s previous restaurants Buz and Bej, packed with crunchy croutons, fresh herbs, Erzincan tulum cheese, cherry tomatoes and cracked Urla olives. Daire 1 also serves döner on Sundays between 13.00 and 19.00.

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