NOVEMBER 2019: Our list has a bit for everyone. The all-time greats as well as the new kids on the block, the posh and the downright shabby that have great food as well as great atmosphere are all in our newly put together list. Our favourites include ‘Best Fast Feast of Europe Award' recipient Karadeniz Döner as well as the timeless Latife Hanım Meyhanesi. If you want to taste great kebab in a casual setting look no further than Zübeyir Ocakbaşı or Beyti for a grander kebab dinner experience. If you are a CEO looking for fine dining options your choices could be Paper Moon for lunch and Sunset for the dinner. There are also the Turkish classics in historic settings which made impressive returns such as Pandeli at the entrance of the Egyptian Market and Sarnıç in the historic Peninsula.
Welcome to the Time Out Istanbul EAT List. Istanbul's best restaurants, handpicked by our local food editors. Everybody knows that Istanbul is one of the greatest foodie cities in the world. It encompasses a myriad of cuisines, great service, unique settings and very talented chefs. Our spectrum runs from great street food vendors to fine dining that Alain Ducasse would go crazy for. The places in our Eat List guarantee you a good time as well great food. They are simply the best restaurants that the great city of Istanbul has to offer.
The best restaurants to eat at
Asım Usta, the proprietor of the tiny Beşiktaş doner shop is without a doubt a national treasure. He has been feeding hoards of people patiently queuing in front of his for decades with his über delicious döner inside home cooked pide. His marination method is his own and so subtle that you do even have to season it yourself before eating. Karadeniz Pide Döner Salonu is also a recipient of Chowzter Awards as the Best Fast Feast of Europe Award. This is most definitely one of the most important pit stops for any gourmet traveller to Istanbul.
Passing by Latife Hanım Meyhanesi on Bekar Sokak off İstiklal Caddesi, you wouldn’t think twice about the nostalgia it exudes for the first years of the Turkish Republic. The standard portrait of Atatürk looms, photographs of early Republican-era women line the walls, and Bülent Ersoy and Zeki Müren records play on repeat. What surprises is that Latife’s menu and prices are much better than those at Taksim’s other, let’s say, shambling meyhanes. Once the mezes arrive, the transportation to a different era is complete. Before us are mung beans, zucchini almond paste, lakerda (pickled bonito) and fava-bean paste made with olive oil specially imported from Cyprus. As for the main course, we recommend starting with octopus in a clay pot (though it is a bit pricey), and moving onto the liver dish (which comes with plenty of onions). At the end of the meal, try the Cypriot macun (a gooey traditional Ottoman candy). Even though it may leave your mouth feeling a bit odd from the stickiness, it has an interesting taste. Latife Hanım Meyhanesi sets itself apart from its local competition with its inventive meze options and is worth every kuruş. For those who enjoy their rakı best with a cigarette, there’s even a small smoking area.
Spreading out over three floors in downtown Taksim, Zübeyir Ocakbaşı was opened in 2006 by the grill-master Zübeyir. It has since established a reputation as one of the best grills in Istanbul. The sumptuous ribs, liver and gavurdağı salad go nicely with their legendary kebab dishes. For those with a sweet tooth, we suggest you end your meal with their moreish quince dessert.
In 1945, when the weary days of the war were over, Beyti Güler and his father opened a modest roadside eatery in Küçükçekmece with four tables. The fame of their delicious döner kebap soon spread and the intimate affair became a 200-seat restaurant that was the talk of the town. In the late 1960s, Beyti Güler’s restaurant catered daily to Pan American Airlines, and during his first state visit to Europe, President Nixon ate Beyti’s döner in his private aircraft. To meet growing demand, Güler moved his restaurant to the upscale residential neighborhood of Florya in 1983. Güler continues to run his restaurant and holds the distinction of being the only man alive to have a kebab dish named after him. Though Beyti kebap is now served in meat restaurants and street food stalls throughout the country, it doesn’t really compare with the original, which is made from a cutlet of lamb wrapped around a loin, while its common namesake is usually made with mixed, kneaded meat. The restaurant is in close proximity to Atatürk Airport so it might be a good idea to taste Beyti’s beyti on the commute to and from your flight.
A restaurant that lovers of Italian cuisine cannot give up, Paper Moon’s menu features a majority of pizzas, pastas, salads, carpaccios and veal dishes. Zucchini and prawn penne, black taglioni (smoked salmon and pink sauce), octopus carpaccio with arugula, and among the pizzas, Valtellina (with arugula and bresaola), are among the restaurants most preferred specials. When it comes to dessert, customers enjoy the tiramisu and the napoleon. If it’s your first time eating here, we recommend leaving the choice up to your waiter. With its urban and classy décor and modern atmosphere, for some Paper Moon is the place for a nice night out, while others prefer it for an evening drink or to go out to lunch. Their prices are a bit steep but with their wonderful food, hospitable and professional service and the restaurant’s consistent popularity, justify the cost. Paper Moon’s kitchen closes at 00.00 while the bar is open till 01.00.
As per its name, Sunset is located in a prime position to watch the sun set over Istanbul and is also especially captivating on a full moon. The menu offers Japanese, Modern Turkish and Sushi. Japanese chef Hiroki Takemura has his own menu while Hüseyin Aslan prepares the Turkish and international selections. Lamb shanks, kebab with puréed aubergine cream sauce, silverbeet dolma, and yoghurt kebab are among chef Hüseyin’s menu. When it comes to dessert, sakızlı muhallebi (milk pudding with mastic), ekmek kadayıfı (oven-baked shredded pastry soaked in syrup) and kabak tatlısı (pumpkin dessert with syrup and walnuts), are recommended. Despite not being an exclusively Japanese or suchi restaurant, Sunset is home to some of the best sushi in Istanbul, thanks to Thai sushi chef Prasat Thongkhu and his team. Sunset also offers an extremely wide array of wines, as well as champagnes, port and whisky, which can be enjoyed before, after or with your meal.
Around the turn of the century, Pandeli, the son of a Greek shepherd from Niğde, moved to Istanbul and started what was to become a legendary culinary career. After working odd jobs as a dishwasher and a barber’s apprentice, Pandeli began selling piyaz (bean and onion salad) and köfte (meatballs) in the vicinity of where he would later open his eponymous restaurant. After half a century of operating eateries across Istanbul, Pandeli opened his current restaurant on the upper floor above the entrance of the Spice Bazaar, a location allocated to him by order of the state after his previous restaurant was looted during the 6-7 September pogrom of 1955. Hardships have always been part of Pandeli’s saga and the legendary restaurant closed down in 2016 due to financial difficulties. Now, thanks to new investors, the Istanbul icon has once again opened its doors and is looking as good as ever with Abdullah Sevim, its chef of 20 years, back in the kitchen. Pandeli’s hünkar beğendi, slow-cooked lamb served on a bed of charred eggplant puree, remains unparalleled, and the famous eggplant pie served with a leaf of döner kebap on top is still one of our favourite dishes in the city. Round it off with the oven-baked quince, which comes slathered with thick syrup and clotted Buffalo cream. As Pandeli is closed for dinner, stop by for lunch before or after visiting the historical peninsula. Pandeli is only open until 18:30 and no alcohol is served.
What is it? A chic restaurant that dwells inside a historic water cistern. Why go? To dine in an unforgettable setting. Head over to the Historical Peninsula’s Soğukçeşme Sokak for a dining experience unlike any other. Situated inside a 1500 year-old cistern, Sarnıç Fine Dining Restaurant is a bucket-list worthy spot for tourists and city-residents alike. This historic structure of a restaurant, with its giant columns and mesmerizing domed ceiling, provides an extraordinary ambience. As for the food, the restaurants Ottoman inspired menu is an absolute treat. We reccomend ‘The love story of Hero and Leander’ (40 TL), a traditional vegetable patty dish with a kinoa twist, topped with walnut stuffed meatballs and tsatsiki. Go for the ‘Magnificent salmon trio’(68 TL) for a plate of smoked salmon, salmon tartar and a fillet of teriyaki. As a main course, we suggest ‘the Venetian in the harem’ (140 TL), a truffle-oil infused beef medallion dish served with oyster mushrooms and goat’s cheese. You’ll also get the chance to listen to some live music while enjoying your food at this unique restaurant.
One of Istanbul's iconic restaurants and a popular lunch spot, Karaköy Lokantası is perhaps best known for its heavenly hünkar beğendi, a remnant of Ottoman palace cuisine made with slow-cooked beef on a creamy bed of mashed eggplant. At dinnertime, Karaköy Lokantası becomes one of the meyhanes in town with its outstanding meze. The fava bean purée is an excellent starter while the grilled octopus is our favourite main dish on the menu. Best enjoyed with a glass of rakı.
One of a number of restaurants opened by White Russians fleeing the Russian Revolution, Rejans was frequented by many interesting characters throughout the years including Mata Hari, Greta Garbo, Atatürk, Agatha Christie and, according to urban legend, a number of spies when the city was teeming with film noir style espionage in the 1940s. After its 80-year run on a quiet backstreet off the hustle and bustle of Istiklal, Rejans closed its doors in 2011. Following a four-year hiatus, however, the folks behind 360 Restaurant set out to bring this historic eatery back to life, renaming it 1924 (though Rejans was in fact founded in 1932). Picking up where Rejans left off, 1924 is an eatery that combines the old and the new, paying tribute to its precursor without completely relying on the past. Russian classics like pelmeni dumplings with leek, beef stroganoff and chicken Kiev are made exceptionally well here. The restaurant also draws inspiration from Eastern European cuisine to add colour to the menu, as Russian fare on its own might seem a bit too ‘country’ for a restaurant like 1924. A strong suit of the menu is undoubtedly the desserts section, featuring delights like the chestnut cream profiterole. 1924’s homemade vodkas make for a great aperitif or digestif and the lemon infused variety is our hooch of choice. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the salmon vodka, which is certainly not for the faint of heart. 1924 is a place to visit for its historic feel as well as its go
Boğaziçi Borsa, located in Lütfi Kırdar Convention and Exhibition Center’s best spot overlooking Bosphorus, offers flavors from Turkish and Ottoman Cuisine since 1996. The highlights of the menu are meat stuffed grape leaves, ‘su böreği’, lamb ‘tandır’, ‘keşkek’ (a dish made of pounded meat and wheat), smashed aubergine and chocolate souffle. The special is the Borsa Steak. ‘Sultan Tepsisi’ (Sultan’s Tray), served for two, has kebap and meat selects from Anatolia. In Boğaziçi Borsa, even the plate decorations will whet your appetite. We should also mention the attentive service and the food presentation here. To establish this level of success, the whole kitchen and service staff was trained by famous chefs invited from New York. Consequently, Classical Turkish Cuisine was given Western presentation while the original tastes were kept. The venue decorated by architect Nazlı Gönensay is ultimately chic and modern. There is a collection of paintings by famous artists on the walls. Head of Board of Directors of Borsa Restaurants Rasim Özkanca is a member of ‘Chaine Des Rotisseurs’ (French Gastronomy Assosiation Rotisseurs Chain) and the owner of ‘Maitrise des Rotisseurs’ (Mastership Badge). This is another indicator of the secret behind the success of the restaurant and attention given to every detail from service to taste. The terrace holds up to 250 people (up to 40 for groups). The frequenters of the restaurant are business men, politicians, artists and f
The menu offers the bests of Turkish- Ottoman Cuisine. Even though you place your order à la carte style, you get to choose you meal after you see the plates. Dishes with meat are the firsts that come to mind about Turkish and Ottoman Cuisine but Hünkar’s menu weighs in vegetables, herbs and fruits. The rich spread features grilled fish and meat, olive oil dishes, warm Turkish pot dishes and mantı. Hünkar Beğendi (gives the restaurant its name) and Topik are must-try dishes! As a dessert, you can choose from 15 different Turkish milky and doughy desserts. They offer meyhane style treats in the evenings. Branches: Etiler: (0212) 287 84 70 Göztepe: (0212) 385 96 62
Bebek Balıkçı is the perfect way to escape the monotony of everyday life, to eat fish and drink in a clean and stylish environment. The place cannot be discussed without mentioning their waterfront location, the politeness of their staff and their high-society clientele. Everything on the menu is tasty and the service is rather fast. Marinated seabass and seabass pilaki (with olive oil and onions) are their specialties. Braised angler, fried calamari and stewed prawns are our recommendations. You’re exceptionally lucky if you manage to find a table at the waterside. The majority of the diners are over middle-aged and have a high socio-economic standing, so naturally the prices are considerably higher than that of the average seafood restaurant.
Opened in 1943 by the Russian Boris Kreschsanovsky and his Hungarian wife Madam Judith, affectionately known as the ‘Countess’, Ayaspaşa Rus Lokantası catered to a different sort of crowd, frequented by those who preferred the low-ceilinged intimacy of Ayaspaşa and the homestyle cooking of the Countess to the heady and grand atmosphere over at Rejans. After Madam Judith passed away, Cemal Ok, who had entered the restaurant as a young waiter before learning all of the original recipes from the Countess herself, took over the management and today runs the eatery together with his son Serkan Ok. One of the most intriguing items on Ayaspaşa’s menu is the veprevo koleno, which needs to be ordered three days in advance. The juicy leg of pork is cooked in beer and served with a side of pickled cabbage and mashed potato. The borscht soup served with a dollop of cream is wonderfully tangy and hors-d'oeuvres like the Russian salad, fluffy piroshky pastry with mushrooms, and blini pancakes with caviar go nicely with their signature black pepper vodka. For the grand finale, try the medovik, a layered honey cake that is served every day except Friday and Saturday.
Serkan Mutlu is someone who has capitalized on his 20 years of expertise in the döner business by offering consulting services to restaurants in both Turkey and abroad. In recent years he’s worked with a number of eateries from China to the U.S. with the aim of introducing the world to superior döner before taking on his latest project: Etiler Dönercisi. Mutlu beams with pride as he talks about the iskender served here: thin slices of döner are served atop pides (which are also baked on premises using a blend of milk and whole-wheat flour), then topped with melted butter brought from Bursa. The menu isn’t just limited to iskender, of course: you’ll also find dishes like beğendili döner (served with eggplant puree), çökertme döner (served with French fries) and altı ezmeli döner (served on a bed of tomato paste). Prior to finding success and opening his own restaurant, Mutlu spent years working at a variety of döner shops in Kartal, Maltepe and Ataşehir on the Asian side of Istanbul. He also gained experience working at Bayramoğlu Döner, one of the city’s top döner spots in Kavacık, before branching out into the world of restaurant consulting with his first international client in Russia. “The same way a musician needs to practice his instrument daily, I need to feel the knife between my fingers each day,” he says. “The way I skewer two rows of beef, followed by a row of lamb, is similar to how a weaver toils before the loom.” Mutlu also places great importance on training his
We had a conversation with Nicola Farinetti, one of Oscar Farinetti's three sons, who together made their domestic brand Eataly a global player with their genuine Italian energy, their eye for quality, and their delight in everything related to food. By Merve Arkunlar For Eataly, everything started in 2001 when Oscar Farinetti visited the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. This was the place where he had the idea of launching a grand Italian establishment bringing together the true taste of Italian cuisine, the presentations of different restaurants, a market, and a cooking school. The first Eataly was opened in its motherland Italy, then in the USA and Dubai, and most recently in inspiring Istanbul. Looking at the 500 staff, the 5,000 products, and the restaurants that can host up to 1,200 people we can tell that Eataly Istanbul alone is a big industry. How does Eataly manage to keeps its 'Good food, good drinks' principle and its advocacy of the Slow Food movement? We only have one rule, which is we will never give in one inch on quality. Everything Eataly stands for comes from this rule and you can believe me when I say that this is enough to put us ahead of everyone else. We do not care about formalities. Wherever you are in the world there is one truth that applies to all restaurants. If a restaurant wants to keep existing the only significant matter is the quality of the food served; not the restaurant's design, decoration, music or how big or smal
Michael White is one of the star chefs of Italian cuisine. Actually, White's genetic codes have nothing to do with Italy, which is not very common when it comes to Italian cuisine. White, however, went to Italy for seven years in the beginning of his culinary career. During this considerable time, he travelled all over the country not only learning Italian cuisine from the best chefs, but also writing down everything he learned that was local and authentic. In short, he felt like he was born and raised there enough to write a book called ‘Fiamma: The Essence of Contemporary Italian cooking… White returned to America in 2001. He served as chef in many starred restaurants such as Spiaggia in Chicago and Fiamma Osteria in New York. In 2007, together with Ahmass Fakahany, former president of Merrill Lynch, one of the world's largest investment banks at the time, he founded AltaMarea Group, one of New York's most popular food and beverage groups, with Michelin-starred Marea and Ai Fiori and Osteria Morini. It is now time for all Istanbul flavour hunters to get to know Michael White and his tastes more closely. Morini, which opened her doors at Zorlu Center, has already entered the radar of all of us. Daily pastas and various sauces with secret recipes are enough reasons to go to Morini. Trofie Nero with pumpkin soup and black cuttlefish sauce should be tried. In addition to risotto or pasta, add the rosemary chicken and grilled seafood to taste. It would be sad to have to choose
The iconic İnci Pastanesi opened in 1944 on İstiklal Caddesi, quickly becoming famous for its profiteroles and classic interior. In 2012, the gentrification that has driven almost all of the original small business owners on İstiklal also forced İnci to move to a nearby backstreet, abandoning its home of nearly seven decades. Though the new location isn't quite the same, the taste of its heavenly profiteroles hasn't changed in the slightest. As İnci remains open until midnight, it's common practice around Beyoğlu to ditch dessert after dinner and head straight here for the real deal.
Without a doubt one of the most important restaurants in Istanbul, Hacı Abdullah was established in 1888 and licensed by Sultan Abdülhamid II himself, who entrusted its founder Abdullah Efendi with hosting foreign dignitaries visiting the Empire. One of the last bastions of Ottoman palace cuisine, Hacı Abdullah has remained true to tradition and not simply with the traditional fare it serves. The restaurant upholds a system of apprenticeship where the kitchen staff and waiters undergo years of training before being deemed fit for the job, and ownership of the restaurant is handed down from master to apprentice. Now maintained by its thirdgeneration founder Abdullah Korun, Hacı Abdullah keeps the flame burning and pots brewing in its Beyoğlu location, which it has occupied since 1958. When we recently visited the restaurant on a snowy winter’s day, the brothy okra soup (kuru çiçek bamya çorbası) did wonders to warm us up. Follow it up with keşkekli kebap, a wonderfully smoky meat and wheat stew, or the signature kuzu tandır, slow-cooked lamb. Hacı Abdullah is famous for its fruit compotes and the colourful jars lining the walls of the restaurant contain some that are several decades old. The mixed fruit compote is a great way to end your meal – and rest assured it won’t come down the wall but has been prepared fresh that day. Since there is no alcohol served and most of the food is cooked in the morning, visiting Hacı Abdullah for lunch is ideal.
What is it? An enchanting garden-restaurant. Why go? To have some excellent food surrounded by the most romantic setting. Emily’s Garden replaces a great Cihangir favorite White Mill that has moved to Akaretler. It has naturally also inherited its much loved garden. Judging from the outside one could easily be fooled to think this a minimalist cafe. However nothing can be further from the truth. Once we ascended the stairs leading into the space a comfortable space with a long bar and tables alongside it welcomed us. The real pleasure is to be found if you venture out a little further and follow the stairs down to the back to the enchanted garden. The place comes alive particularly at night with the glow of lights that hang from the trees. The venue is managed by Oğulcan Engin. The fact that this is a considerate establishment that prefers a no music policy so as not to disturb the neighbours was much enjoyed by us as it enabled us conversate with ease. A rare treat these days. As a main course filetto porcini di manzo (75 TL) was a very satisfying plate. 220 gram veal tenderloin is accompanied by mashed potatos with truffle oil and grilled vegetables. Amongst the pastas casa nostra (58 TL) was our favourite. With its tranquil athmosphere this is an ideal venue for closing a busy day. It is equally charming for breakfast and brunch.
WHILE ITS IMITATORS continue to sprout like mushrooms in the city, Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi continues to maintain its popularity and quality from its outpost in the eponymous neighbourhood, now managed by the fourthgeneration descendants of its founder Mehmet Seracettin Efendi. The köfte is just as tasty as it always was and the marble tables and creaky stairs still seem to date back to 1920, which is when the shop was founded. In addition to the famous main fixture köfte, which is characteristically flat and chewy, the menu also features piyaz, lamb skewers, rice, pickled peppers and lentil soup. You can’t go wrong with the delectable irmik helvası (semolina dessert) with your post-feast tea or coffee.
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
What has made Dragon so memorable over the years is the taste of their perfect food. Dragon also offers many of the typical dishes that are suited to everyone’s tastes including soup, dumplings, prawns, fish, duck, spring rolls, and rice. Peking duck, crispy duck with crepes, spicy beef and noodles, are among the customers’ favourites over the years. And with its garden overlooking the Bosphorus for the summer months, does Dragon need any more to entice you?
What is it? A fireside restaurant in Karaköy Why go? For its incredible views and delicious kebabs. Rakofoli is on the Karaköy foot of Galata bridge near Perşembe market. Even before arriving at the restaurant the surronding area fills you with inspiration. Through its old hardware stores, fish mongers, boutique hotels and art institutions the visitor can trace Istanbul’s history as well as observe its comtemporary face. Rakofoli is also a testament to this duality. It is placed in an old Greek building and makes use of its entire 4 floors. With views over the Galata Bridge and the ancient peninsula Rakofoli’s most beautiful spot is its terrace. From the terrace it feels like as if there is no distance between you and Istanbul’s most glorious landmarks illuminated at night. The restaurateur Fuat Danışment brings 25 years of experience to his venue. He has a quiet charm which is also reflected in Rakofoli. This is a warm and carefree athmosphere where old meyhane songs play politely in the background. The clientele is varied. Young groups, couples enjoying a second spring and tourists in search of Istanbul’s best views. Everyone would feel at home here. Meyhane classics such as köpoğlu (an aubergine meze, 16 TL) and haydari (strained yoghurt with garlic, 16 TL) are well tasty as are the small lahmacuns (9 TL). We particularly enjoyed the ‘zırh kebabı’ as a main course (47 TL). If you plan to visit Rakofoli for lunch make sure you try their minced meat (38 TL) or cheese pides
What's it? An elegant restaurant serving Italian and French cuisine.Why should go? For Chef Ayhan Kara's great food. Boél is a new Nişantaşı restaurant that opened at the location of L’Orient. Sarah Malouh and Taner Akkuş set up the upper floor with a fine dining concept, while the lower floor welcomes customers all day long. The most important feature of the place is its marvelous chef. Ayhan Kara, who we admire, is the secret to the success of today's important venues. His experience at Bronze Restaurant which serves French cuisine in Maçka and Paper Moon, the famous Italian restaurant in Etiler, has mastered the cuisine of the two countries. Boél’s kitchen is also entrusted to his skillful hands. Kara's mastery is evident from the use of spices. Instead of changing the taste of food, it reveals their tastes and deepens their tastes.
What is it? A small sized chef restaurant. Why go? To sample the food prepared by Chef Cem Ekşi. We are extremely thrilled that Asmalimescit is once again found its mojo. Restaurants, cafes, bars and meyhanes are full and the streets are once again lively. One of the worthy additions to the neighbourhood is Chef Cem Ekşi’s Mabou. As well as shuttling between Germany and Turkey, Ekşi enjoyed a stint at Neolokal with Chef Maksut Aşkar. After getting married and becoming a father he decided to create a boutique restaurant where his aim is to treat his customers as he would his esteemed guests at home. Mabou houses a small bar and a kitchen just above it. Ekşi can view his guest from above and his guests below can hear him work above. This is an intimate place. The menu has two claims. First one is to offer a completely new palatal experience with the most mandane and customary ingredients. For example the humble tomato salad becomes something quite surprising in the hands of the chef when mixed with sumak onions, almonds and pesto (26 TL). Zuccini with ricotta (28 TL) is an other one of the favorites. Zuccinis are fried in sumak infused oil and the sauce contains basil as well as lemon oil. Cem Ekşi’s other claim however is to give regularly neglected, overlooked ingredients centre stage. For instance the lowly sea trout is used both for an exceptional starter and a main dish. The salted trout is served with carrot puree as a cold dish (34 TL). For its second outing the trou
For those who are unfamiliar with Nispetiye Caddesi, Etiler’s famous patisserie Venu¨s Pastanesi generally serves as a point of reference, so it’s only fitting to describe Kebapçı Etiler as its new next-door neighbor. The man behind this new kebapçı is Nusret Gökçe, one of the best meat masters in the country and a social media sensation. Thanks to his Instagram feed, we know that his latest feat was preparing dinner for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at Nusr-Et’s Dubai location. His brand new eatery Kebapçı Etiler is a more modest affair than Nusr-Et; even the sign at its entrance was put up by Gökçe himself. Yet when it comes to kebap, he takes the same ambitious approach as he did in Nusr-Et. During our visit less than a week after its opening, Kebapçı Etiler was already brimming with celebrities and Nusr-Et regulars. The restaurant’s outdoor area embraces Nispetiye Caddesi, while the spacious and modern interior incorporates a second floor designed for large groups and private gatherings. Despite the venue’s European flair, as soon as you enter you’ll notice the döner/kasap section where the meat masters prepare the orders and send them on to the open kitchen. The service crew is knowledgeable and friendly, and we hear Kebapçı Etiler will soon invite DJs to play in the bar section. Based on the dishes we tried, we can safely say that Kebapçı Etiler is on its way to becoming a force to be reckoned with in the kebap scene. We recommend starting
A favourite among fans of Etiler’s Günaydın, Nusr-et Steak House obviously hasn’t deviated from its meat-heavy menu despite having separated from Günaydın. Before taking a seat at your table you should look in the showcase near the grill, where you can see details such as where the meat is from, and when it was cut. The meats here have specific names, exclusive to Nusr-et such as ‘lokum’ (Turkish delight) and ‘ceviz’ (walnut). The three-dimensional Nusr-et köfte (meatballs), hamburger, lokum and ceviz are among favourites. To accompany your meat you can order fries, spinach puree, or piyaz (dried beans, onions, parsley salad). We particularly recommend the fries. The meat used is only from the Maramra region. The décor is timber-heavy as is typical to most steakhouses. Behind the showcase displaying the meat is the open kitchen which is always visible. In the afternoon, during work hours or at night- the restaurant is full at all hours of the day, so it’s advisable to call before going.
It hasn’t been long since this chic new Italian restaurant opened, but it’s already managed to draw in regulars, particularly among Etiler residents. It’s impossible to get a seat dinner seat here without a reservation, but for lunch you might find a place to sit if it’s your lucky day. The restaurant is situated on a quiet street that runs parallel to the bustling Nispetiye Caddesi. At the moment the Italian restaurant operates out of one floor, with a lounge bar scheduled to take up residence on the second floor soon. White tablecloths, large windows that let in sunlight and mirrors lend understated elegance to the space. The menu is likewise minimalistic as La Scarpetta’s manager Mürsit Göksüzoglu says the eatery focuses on “doing what it does best.” As you might expect from any real Italian restaurant, pizza is the cherished dish here with much attention given to its preparation. Straight out of the wood-fired oven, the restaurant’s signature pizza, Pizza La Scarpetta (64 TL), is an excellent balance of beef fillets and mozzarella. For dessert, we recommend the star dish torta di mele (22 TL), or apple pie served with cinnamon ice cream. La Scarpetta deserves praise as an eatery that blends substance and style. A final word of caution: in order to achieve top-notch quality, the kitchen closes each day from 14.30 to 19.00. By Erçag Akın
The latest incarnation of Ulus 29 Lounge features a new menu, a warm, art-filled, chocolate-brown interior by acclaimed architect Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu and a comfortable atmosphere likely to ensure its popularity as a happy-hour spot. Under its new name, 29 Food Bar, the lounge is run by Ayşe İncili, with the food in the skilful hands of chef Mert Şeran, who has created a menu of both main dishes and cocktail-friendly appetisers. Start off with the asparagus tempura with curry and mustard sauce (23 TL), or pair a glass of wine with the charcuterie plate (47 TL) of imported cheeses, prosciutto, chorizo, smoked pork, smoked duck and bresaola. Old favourites like the club sandwich and meatballs are still served until late, while notable new additions to the menu include the crab sandwich and Pekinese duck rolls. The ambitious list of main courses features baked veal bone marrow (27 TL), grilled lamb ribs (48 TL) and tuna tartar (46 TL) among Şeran’s signature dishes. All mains come with a choice of sides, including French fries with truffles, stuffed potatoes and fresh peas. The dazzling drink selection includes both cocktails such as a Bloody Mary (30 TL) and healthy alternatives such as cabbage, apple, lemon and ginger juices (17 TL). Finish off your meal with the crispy white chocolate éclairs, served with nutty chocolate sauce – then see where the rest of the night takes you.
Masa is undoubtedly İstinye Park’s coolest restaurant. Unsurprising, since it’s located right in the centre of many luxurious brands at the local Avenue Montaigne. For as long as weather permits, you can choose to eat either out in the sun, surrounded by grass and garden, or, at night, looking out over the street illuminated by lights from shopwindows. The decorations are plain yet stylish and the menu is rich in choices, including raw appetizers cooked at under 48 degrees, salads, home-made pastas, risottos, wood-fired pizzas, main courses and desserts. The drinks menu also includes approximately 75 varieties of wine and cocktail.
The concept is totally different from Feriye's but the service and presentation we’ve come to know and love is the same. The wine menu consists of Turkish wines only and the menu features Ottoman- Turkish cuisine. Karakol is a fine-dining restaurant located in the atrium of the Palace, making it the perfect destination for tourists and locals alike. The walls are decorated with photos of the Palace before the restoration, which if you ask us, has left the historical venue devoid of its original splendor. There are three separate rooms titled Ayasofya, Aya Irini and Topkapı, each one seating 14. You can choose to reserve an entire room for a party or event, otherwise there are tables of 2-4 available. The rooms don’t differ much from each other, besides slightly different photos on the walls. The main room has a capacity of 80 and is most appropriate for family gatherings and other events. The outdoor garden isn’t available right now, but most likely will be in the spring. There will be a café-style venue in the outdoor garden soon where you can get a quick bite. We imagine it’ll also be a nice place to take a short break in between sightseeing. The prices are a bit above average but are well worth it, due to the flavor, quality and service of the food. There is a set menu for 80 TL and it’s worth mentioning that the chefs make a point of trying to use almost completely natural ingredients. And with the explosion of organic products these days and its subsequent popu
Located inside the Ottoman Hotel Imperial, Matbah offers a menu focused on Ottoman palace delights and seasonal offerings, featuring game such as geese in the winter, and quail and duck in the summer. All game come from the Kars, Ardahan and Ağrı regions, the spices and pastes from Gaziantep, and the dry ingredients procured from various shops in Eminönü. Complimentary şerbet begins and ends the meal at Matbah, flavoured with pomegranate blossom as an appetizer and cinnamon as a post-meal treat. One of our favourite dishes in Matbah's ambitious menu is the kuzu incik (lamb shank), which is cooked in its own juices with red pepper paste and served with beğendi (eggplant puree) in a bowl of crispy filo dough, a recipe from the 15th century.
Serving its customers for over a century, Meşhur Filibe Köftecisi was founded in 1893 by Mehmet Saltuk, who moved to Istanbul from the Bulgarian town of Filibe (Plovdiv), hence the restaurant’s name. One of the prominent taste destinations in Sirkeci, Filibe’s round and plump buttons of flavour are an ode to simplicity, as the only ingredients involved are ground beef, onion and cumin, and they are made daily by hand. Now looked after by the fifth-generation descendants of Saltuk, Filibe’s no-frills menu also includes piyaz, çoban salatası (shepherd’s salad with tomatoes and onion) and the delightful sponge cake revani.
Walking along the cobbletstoned streets of Balat, past decaying Ottoman-era buildings and a few surviving synagogues and churches – the area was once home to a significant Jewish and Greek population – always feels like a trip through the past. Like the rest of its surrounds, Köfteci Arnavut feels preserved in time. Opened in 1937, the intimate eatery serves up succulent, square-shaped meatballs that provide reason enough to venture out into the historic neighbourhood. The eatery is currently run by its third-generation heir Mine İştay, who is one of the only women running a business in the area. Having come to Balat from Albania in the late 19th century, the İştay family are experts in making the milky trileçe desert that is ever so popular in Balkans.
SITUATED JUST STEPS AWAY from the east entrance of the Spice Bazaar lies Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi’s iconic shop, purveyors of the finest Turkish coffee since 1871. The shop is manned by a workforce in brown overalls dispensing packets of freshly roasted coffee, the scent of which wafts through the backstreets.
Established in 1923, Baylan is Turkey’s oldest patisserie and the only destination for kup griye in the city. The sweets shop recently took on a novel concept by opening a restaurant right next to its Bebek branch, where Gloria Jean’s used to be. The patisserie section is still as ambitious as ever, with the open display of all sorts of sweets on the ground floor pulling you right in. You’ll find a bar on the top floor and an elegant restaurant seating 60 on the lowest floor. The menu served here is overseen by three-time Michelin-starred French Chef Alain Ducasse. From the specially-designed dinnerware to the design-marvel glasses, every detail screams elegance. Stop by for dinner and try the ravioli and angler fish prepared with Ducasse’s recipe.
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.
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.
Opposite Yakup in Asmalımescit, it's owned by one of Yakup’s old partners. The owner visits each table; complete strangers sitting in neighboring tables gleefully raise their wine and rakı glasses to one another. The regulars come from a wide range of backgrounds: advertisers, publishers, writers, artists… Along with rakı, make sure you keep plenty of aubergine salad and topik (a mezze made of chickpeas, potatoes, onion and tahini) on your table. Considering the fantastic meal and cozy atmosphere, the prices are very reasonable.
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
Located in the ‘pazar’ (bazaar or market) section of the shopping centre, at Günaydın Steakhouse you can either choose your meat to have it cooked for you, or take it home to cook later. Before ordering from the available variety of American-style meats, you are first served salad and olives, before continuing your meal with the restaurant’s special 45 day aged beef. Every type of meat you would find at a butcher is available; but the venue’s two primary flavours are the dry aged cutlets and T-bone steak. Furthermore, Günaydın butcher köfte (meatballs), NY Steak and hamburger must all be sampled.
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.
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.
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.
Taking its design from pictograms in a small notebook purchased during a trip to Barcelona, 49 Çukurcuma is known for its pizzas. The Bozcaada breakfast uses cheeses, jams, and sauces brought from the island. Another prominent item from the breakfast menu are the eggs. We recommend trying the Tulumi with caramelized onions, goat cheese, dried tomatoes, fresh thyme, mozzarella and homemade tomato sauce, the Pizza 49 with special 49 sauce, mozzarella, pastirma, fresh mountain thyme, and if you like pork the Da Soho with parma ham, roasted red peppers, parmesan, Mascarpone cheese, arugula, mozzarella, and homemade tomato sauce.
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.
Rapid gentrification in Istanbul has driven many artists and musicians out into the industrial suburbs of Maslak, and now new venues are cropping up to attract the area’s changing crowd. With its welcoming atmosphere and friendly greeting, Sanayi Lokantası is the right place at the right time. The tables are always full with a lunchtime crowd enjoying its signature dishes – traditional home-cooked Turkish fare such as hünkâr beğendiand rarer specialties like apple-celery soup – from the open buffet. The menu changes daily but the food is always fresh, cheap (3-14 TL), hearty and delicious.
What's it? A new restaurant in Maslak Oto Sanayi region.Why should go? To eat in an original atmosphere for a meal or coffee break. Tamirhane Mutfak moved to Maslak from a design studio in Çukurcuma. Tamirhane Mutfak is located on the ground floor of their new offices. The brothers, Serpil, Cevdet and Cengiz Saraç, have transformed an old repair shop and created a restaurant. The most striking aspect of the kitchen is the design of the space. The floor is preserved as it was before. Everything from armchairs to chairs, from chandeliers to wall decorations is the product of Tamirhane Design, and the atmosphere is unique. Since the neighborhood is intertwined with the automobile industry, the industrial touches in Tamirhane match the character of the neighborhood. In their menus, they have included options that can appeal to customers who are not familiar with the neighborhood and who have different profiles. Although Chef Barış Çetin is the name behind the dishes, everyone in the management team has a lot of work on the menu.
A classic family-owned restaurant, Havan’dan gets the “Beff” in its name from the first initials of the names of owner Ekin Uzunyol’s family members. The menu changes daily, so depending on when you visit you might get to try pumpkin soup made from Uzunyol’s mother’s recipe or a pie that uses seasonal ingredients. The olive-oil dishes and meat-based main courses are quite delicious, but what really stole the show for us were the desserts, like the surprisingly light pumpkin pie. It’s no surprise that desserts are the only items permanently on the menu, which means you’ll get to try the cinnamon roll and white-chocolate brownie any time you visit Havan’dan. On Saturdays, the restaurant serves rib burgers: the beef ribs are rested in a spice rub for three days, then slow-cooked for seven hours before the fat is removed and the ribs are served with caramelized onions between homemade buns. While you’re savoring that burger, be sure to look around the restaurant, where you’ll see an assortment of items for sale – if you find yourself wanting to take some of the flavor home, Ekin Uzunyol’s recommendation is to try Turkish cheese brand Buffa’s burrata cheese and Antebella’s pistachio paste.
Located on a side street in Moda, Bonkis is the latest project by architect Deniz Tezuysal and actress Öykü Karayel. Before you visit, we recommend making peace with carbs so as not to be deprived from the delicious sandwiches and appetizers served on bread slices. Bonkis doesn’t have a set “menu,” per se, but on weekends you’ll find focaccia sandwiches (Saturdays) and burgers (Sundays). The burgers here are easily some of the best in Istanbul, served with a 120-g beef patty, cheese, mushrooms and caramelized onions as well as your choice of two sauces, with options like homemade tomato paste and eggplant pesto. The homemade breads are soft without being too greasy, which makes them the perfect complement to the beef patty covered in sauce. We also love that the burgers are served with green onion-potato salad instead of French fries.
This brand-new restaurant in Atatürk Oto Sanayi Sitesi was created with lunch crowds in mind. The bright yellow doors and brick walls featuring graffiti by renowned street artist Leo Lunatic give the space a modern touch, while its mezzanine pays tribute to the restaurant’s industrial setting. The clientele is almost entirely comprised of white-collar workers from Maslak, and you’ll likely be greeted by a sea of laptops (though the mezzanine, whenever it isn’t booked for meetings, is a quieter place to get work done). Pomelo serves a daily menu; on our visit, we noticed dishes like mung bean and tahini salad, shredded chicken with curry sauce, and pumpkin tart. The salads are also quite filling, our favorite being the chicken salad with honey-mustard dressing and a hint of orange flavor. The dishes featuring seasonal fruits and vegetables are priced around 20 TL, while the breakfast options like oatmeal with dried fruits make Pomelo a great option for the early risers.
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.
Delicatessen is located on Mim Kemal Öke Caddesi in Nişantaşı. Though it might look very plain from the outside, with big black metal beams placed in between large windows, the interior is beautiful. Everything is quite plain; however, it’s clear that the simplicity was intended, perhaps to direct your focus on the food, rather than being distracted by too many bells and whistles. Towards the back there is an old ‘fiskos’ (gossip) table that is ideal for large groups. As you descend to the bottom floor, you’ll notice an intricately designed ceramic wall. The lower floor is really what blew us away. One wall is covered in a painting, which was stunning without being overwhelming. The real shock comes when you see the 2000+ bottles of wine across the other side of the room! Clearly, Delicatessen is the right choice for wine-aficionados. We delighted in imagining the different pairings possible with all those bottles. At the far end of the lower floor, you will see the open kitchen. Separating the kitchen from the dining tables is a long wooden table covered with mixed nuts and loads of baked goods including sweet and savory. We enjoyed the soup of the day, which was spinach, and a pesto-tomato open sandwich, which came in little pieces, perfect for sharing. We also enjoyed after dinner cocktails and were pleased with the Bloody Mary we ordered (often a ‘miss’ at many venues). We’d also like to mention that the spread at the entrance, which included a basket of brown e
It's only been open for a little while, but Fenix has managed to generate quite the buzz. We're warning you in advance: this brand new venue that opened where GQ Bar used to be is the most extravagant venue of the season - perhaps even the year. Leyla Deniz lists everything you need to know about the eatery. 1. Who's behind it? The people who made Fenix a reality are none other than Metin and Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu, the restaurateur due behind Ulus 29 who perhaps know more about the business than anyone else in the city, and Aliye Turagay, who has brought venues like Bird and Flamingo to life. 2. What to eat? Fenix has a constantly updated menu of modern flavors from Pan-Asian cuisine (think dumplings, crispy calamari and duck) to French seafood favorites (oysters and more in tomato sauce), as well as surprising finds like spare ribs and artichoke salad. In short, prepare for well-executed, tasty dishes. 3. The service is incredible! The service crew at Fenix is very involved and informed, with a command of every detail from the cooking technique of the dishes to the bar menu. From the minue they introduce themselves, they do their part to make sure your Fenix experience is a wonderful one. 4. Striking decor, magical atmosphere If you happened to visit the short-lived GQ Bar, let us warn you that the venue underwent a massive makeover and looks entirely different. The second floor was knocked out, giving th
La Boucherie is actually the name of a popular dish at La Boom in Emirgan – so popular, in fact, that it led to the opening of a new restaurant named after it. The recipe comes from French chef Arthur Vonderheyden, who’s responsible for upgrading the quality of La Boom’s menu since he took over the kitchen. The signature dish is presented somewhat differently from Vonderheyden’s birthplace: here, it’s placed in the middle of the table on a metal tray that resembles what you might see in a kebap joint. It consists of sliced beef tenderloin served with a buttery sauce whose recipe Vonderheyden keeps a secret. Candles underneath the tray keep the beef warm as matchstick fries are served on your plate. With a starter salad of caramelized walnuts, apple and Roquefort, this prix fixe menu costs 86 TL, making it a cheaper deal than what you’ll find at La Boom. For dessert, you have your choice from options like crème brûlée, chocolate mousse and homemade ice cream. La Boucherie is, above all else, a smart investment – one that relies on the bright idea of taking the most popular dish at a well-known restaurant like La Boom and offering it as a shareable course in an elegant setting. The dining area might be narrow, but the garden and open kitchen help give the restaurant an airy feel. Despite the formal décor of white tablecloths and curved leather booths, La Boucherie succeeds in capturing a laid-back vibe with plates hand-painted by Turkish artist Burhan Doğançay and paintings
We recommend passing up Saturday nights here, when it’s packed full and just about everybody who’s anybody is there, and visiting Lucca during the week for a refreshing, long lunch or a solid cocktail and snacks after work. You wouldn’t believe it, but it’s even possible to grab your laptop and work in the corner at this time of day. Of course, don’t give up the weekends entirely – by all means, go there to see and be seen. Lucca’s perennial favourite, the duck papardelle, has retained its place on the menu for years, thanks to the insistence of regulars. Still, the menu bears seasonal changes, with this season’s star being the sea bass with a caramelised onion sauce. The sea bass comes served with potato puree, which we’re accustomed to seeing beside meat dishes; the plate is wholly flavourful, elegant and filling. For those who just want to have small bites with their drinks, we recommend the ciabatta pizzas with wild mushrooms or smoked entrecote. To leave behind all of your worries as soon as you sit down at the table, order a glass of Raspberry Royal, prepared with fresh raspberries and Prosecco. As for a wine selection with your drink – leave that up to the waiters who are masters at what they do.
The local food and drink scene had been looking forward to the new Karaköy venue by longtime Lucca manager Turgay Yıldız for quite sometime. Its opening was signaled as early as last summer, but Yıldız and his team kept us waiting a little while longer. It all seems to have paid off, though, as the crowd spilling out of Mitte Karaköy at the opening party in October was both an indicator of the venue’s success and very much reminiscent of Saturday nights at Lucca. With a spacious interior and inviting bar, Mitte looks poised to become the city’s new meeting point. What makes Mitte a hit with the Bebek-Nişantaşı-Etiler crowd visiting Karaköy is the fact that it is a more avant-garde restaurant than the majority of those in the ’hood. The eatery’s “wise cuisine” motto is reflected in the menu, which offers a star appetizer like the octopus on a bed of celery puree as well as a perfectly juicy and flavorful beef tenderloin that should be taught as a lesson in cooking schools. Likewise, when it comes to cocktails, there are few places in the city that can hold a candle to Mitte. We also recommend checking out Mitte’s special parties, held in the private event section accessible from the venue’s back door. All you need to enter is a password sent to your phone by the Mitte team.
Escale (meaning “stopover” in French) is the Kanyon outpost of Yücel-Gülin Özalp and Anıl Toroslu, the same people behind Topaz and Colonie. They once again chose to work with industrial designer Koray Özgen on the venue, and the result is nothing short of impressive. The low ceiling is offset with glass globe-shaped lighting and hexagonal symbols overhead, and wooden barrels form the walls of the cellar. The entrance is also designed like a terminal gate to highlight the restaurant’s intention to be a place where people stop. Escale actually looks as if it comprises two separate restaurants: a livelier entrance section and a decorous fine-dining section, white tablecloths and all. Despite their well-done crust, the beef cheeks are as tender as can be. We can also recommend the cold cuts to those looking for a shareable starter. The white chocolate soup is closer to fondue yet still manages to feel light when topped with raspberry sorbet and cocoa crumble. As for Escale’s cocktails, all you need to know to assess their quality is that Lucca’s veteran barmen Cevat Yıldırım is behind the bar. Manager Anıl Toroslu admits that the fine-dining section might seem a bit daunting, but there’s plenty of fun to be had at Escale. Even as he’s meticulously going over each detail, Koray Özgen makes time to stop and say, “We’re just having fun.” And it’s likely that you will, too.
Lucca’s long-awaited sister venue Cantinery has finally arrived, blending a traditional dining hall with a canteen and infusing it with bistro culture. Its décor is courtesy of the famous design office Roman & Williams, who previously designed iconic New York locales such as The Standard Grill, Lafayette, Boom Boom Room and The Standard Hotel. The result is a dynamic, spacious and flavorful meeting place where the focus is on blending local flavors with global gastronomic trends to create something unique in each plate. In Cantinery’s open kitchen you’ll find Lucca’s talented chef Pelin Çakar, who leads a colorful and noisy team of Turkish and foreign chefs. Here, they add the essence of Istanbul to different tastes from all over the world. In addition to a seasonal menu of only local and fresh ingredients, Cantinery serves a side menu of dishes decided upon each day based on the shopping done that morning. As a result, everything on the menu – including the breads and truffle butter served before the meal – is as original as it gets. Let’s also note that Cantinery’s bar specializes in “craft” cocktails created by award-winning mixologists to go along with the food. Gözde Yolaç Savaş What to eat? Some of the can’t-miss flavors at Cantinery include the lobster burger, hamachi ceviche and meat sashimi from the cold bar, smelt tempura, gold fish gyoza, oven-roasted salmon and cheesecake with mastic. To wash them down, we recommend two of
We were surprised when Hüseyin Özer’s popular restaurant Sofra London had to close down its Istanbul location a few months ago, but this being Karaköy, the space already has a new tenant, this time from Alaçatı. The beach club Madeo rounded up its DJ and managers and came to Karaköy. The restaurant’s interior design is almost identical to that of Sofra, down to the floor plan, the massive bar and the elegant white tablecloths that scream “luxury” from a mile away. The person in charge of the kitchen is Rıdvan Koçarslan, the former chef of Gina and Da Mario. The menu concentrates on classic Italian dishes like pasta and risotto, though you can also enjoy a bar menu of crispy mantı and wraps after the kitchen closes. Madeo hosts live Turkish music nights during the week, while the weekends are reserved for house music courtesy of the venue’s co-owner Keren Önger, whom you might have heard DJing at Lucca or on FG 93.7.
If youthink the biggest discovery the Spanish made was America, think again – it’s actually tapas. After all, we’re talking about a style of eating that’s introduced us to the idea that food could be “shareable” or enjoyed as “quick bites.” The biggest appeal of newly opened Nişantaşı eatery Moro is that it aims to be a true tapas bar: instead of trying to offer something for every meal, the bar opens at 16.00 each day to serve a menu focused solely on tapas. A classic tapas dish, the patatas bravas are flavorful enough to prove that Moro is on the right path: the spicy potato bites are as crispy as you’d expect, as they’ve obviously been fried more than once. In addition to traditional Spanish dishes like gazpacho and Catalan paella, you’ll also find Basque-inspired pintxos. Factor in the cocktail menu overseen by Cevat Yıldırım, who formerly worked at eateries like Lucca and Escale, and you’ll want to check out this exceptional bar ASAP.
Delimonti is a delicatessen and restaurant within the Bomontiada complex dedicated to regional Anatolian cuisines. Featuring a rich variety of regional dishes, Delimonti's menu changes based on the freshness of seasonal ingredients and pairs nicely with the local wines stored in their extensive cellar. Their oak wood stone oven is particulary noteworthy for its baked treats like the etli ekmek (pita bread with minced meat) and yağ somunu (closed pide with moldy cheese from Konya). Delimonti also stocks and sells local produce including hummus, cold cuts, fruit jams, molasses, honey, cheese, olive oil and clotted cream varieties sourced from different corners of the country.
Comedus has two tables inside. If you want you can get your sandwich made and enjoy it here or save your charcuterie treats to enjoy at home. Keep in mind that there are delicious panini and toast varieties among other alternatives. Comedus’ products are not just imported from abroad. Among available local flavors are Ezine goat cheese, Kars Gruyere cheese, honey, and farm eggs. The pork meat products are supplied by a Greek family. Here you can find not just cheese and meat products but alcoholic beverages as well. Some of the beers available include London Porter, ESB, Scneider Weisse and Brooklyn. The prices aren’t insanely high.
Gözde Şarküteri features a large stock of delicious breakfast items and unique cheeses; despite the large crowd over the weekend they are able to meet the demand. But the same cannot be said for their mezes. The daily mezes, the borani, sarma, and içli köfte (kibbeh) are usually finished by the evening. If you’re interested in olives, pastirma, and honey we’re certain you will enjoy Gözde’s special varieties.