The sleepy neighbourhoods of Bomonti and Kurtuluş have seen a steady wave of interest over the past couple of years, in particular due to the unveiling of the Bomontiada complex inside the old and long-abandoned Bomonti beer factory, which brought large crowds to the area and prompted a flurry of new openings. While many of these hip cafés and modern eateries are worth a visit, Kurtuluş has lots of old-school favorites that are mostly unknown outside of the area. Once home to a large number of Armenians and Greeks, most of whom have emigrated in recent years, Kurtuluş has a rich cosmopolitan heritage and is home to a popular open-air marketplace which hosts the Feriköy Flea Market and Organic Bazaar every weekend.
The best restaurants in Bomonti-Kurtuluş
Kilimanjaro is a fine-dining restaurant in Bomontiada devoted to using the best local produce and organic products in its Mediterranean-influenced dishes – so much so that the menu changes twice each season to accommodate for the freshness of the ingredients used by chef Mustafa Otar. Dishes under the 'Ortaya Büyük' heading, like the firik pilaf with almonds and slow-cooked lamb, are ideal for sharing. Kilimanjaro's majestic interior is the work of local studio Autoban, whose design for the sculptural bar adds even more flavour to Kilimanjaro's well-crafted cocktails, which come with delicious nibbles like fried fava beans. It is worth noting that Kilimanjaro's prices (as well as the age of its patrons) are considerably higher than other eateries in Bomontiada.
This excellent neighborhood meyhane is a Kurtuluş favorite, though the cat has been let out of the bag and they recently had to add another floor to deal with heavy demand. The meze and hot appetizers are always fantastic and Mehmet Bey and his staff always provide excellent and friendly service. There is space in the back for smokers while the dining room in the front is smoke-free.
With the arrival of the microbrewery and craft beer pub The Populist, Bomontiada finally does justice to the historic brewery whose site it occupies. The Populist’s food menu is an exemplary take on bar fare. You’ll find fries done just about every way imaginable, as well as flatbreads from the stone oven with inventive toppings. The curly fries with chopped brisket and cheese sauce, served alongside strained yogurt, is one of our favourite items on the menu. The Populist’s airy ambience and signature beers crafted by brewmaster Tobias Palmer have already made it a favorite for Bomonti residents this summer – as you can’t make reservations for the outdoor tables, we recommend heading there as early as possible to make the most of the breezy courtyard.
Newly opened Bomonti eatery Cross Fingers is the permanent location of a food truck that regularly makes the rounds at festivals. The eatery pays tribute to Cross Fingers’ mobile origins with a menu that focuses on burritos, wraps and burgers. The burritos are prepped with tortillas that come from Ranchero, one of the city’s premier Mexican restaurants. Though the burritos are the highlight of the menu, we also recommend checking out Cross Fingers’ burgers and salads. The mini burger comes with beef patties marinated in spices and tomato sauce – it’s simple yet delicious, and we can almost guarantee you’ll order two or three more after tasting one.
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.
This iconic pudding shop has been serving out excellent desserts since the 1960s, while also offering fantastic breakfast spreads and other Turkish staples including tavuk suyu çorbası (chicken noodle soup) and pilav üstü kuru fasulye (buttery rice under white beans). The empire has expanded to several branches but the original on Kurtuluş Caddesi remains our favorite.
Bomontiada's modern meyhane Kiva has a rich meze menu replete with little-known delights from various Anatolian regions. The Antalya regions's answer to fava bean purée, mercimek dondurma (lentil 'ice cream' spread) topped with crispy fried onions, is a particular highlight. Chef Deniz Şahin's take on less obscure meyhane staples like çerkez tavuğu (shredded chicken in walnut paste) and etli yaprak sarma (stuffed vine leaves with meat) are equally delectable. Dining at Kiva's winter-garden surrounded by friends, good meze and ample rakı is a true delight.
A classic ice cream stand only serving their own blends, the venerable Damla Dondurma in Kurtuluş has some of the best ice cream in the city and serves an excellent boza (a traditional fermented wheat drink) also made in-house during the cooler months.
The best cafés in Bomonti-Kurtuluş
When Kozmos set up shop in Kurtuluş in 2015, it soon became a beloved neighbourhood hang-out and, as the first third wave café in the area, a trailblazer for numerous shops that have opened in the years following. Offering fresh coffee, inventive cocktails and home-made cakes and quiches, Kozmos also regularly hosts 'Kozmik Bazaar', a garage sale featuring carefully curated vintage clothes and apparel.
The charmingly-designed Kurtuluş café Marika serves a wide menu featuring salads and sandwiches made with market-fresh ingredients, homemade granolas, pancakes served with seasonal fruits and vegan-friendly dishes. Marika also offers beer, wine and cocktails rolling into the evening and has been hosting exciting pop-up dinners as of late. A nice place to spend a few hours with a book and a drink of your choice during any time of the day.
Kurtuluş now has its own Danish bakery with the arrival of Oplevelse, a charming little café that serves authentic Danish pastries, cakes and good coffee in a cosy atmosphere. A great place to have breakfast or beat the afternoon slump with a cup of freshly brewed joe and Scandinavian treats.
Designed by award-winning Barcelona-based firm Lagranja, the third wave café and brasserie Monochrome has the most relaxed vibe of all the Bomontiada eateries and pays homeage to its next-door neighbours Leica Store and Gallery and the Ara Güler Museum with the photographic prints and coffee-table books dotted around its sleek interior. Monochrome is the ideal place to kick back with a hot cup of coffee or tuck into a pancake, sandwich or salad anytime of the day.
Things to do in Bomonti-Kurtuluş
Taking place inside the vast covered marketplace in Bomonti every Saturday, the Feriköy Organic Bazaar features a wide array of 100% organic produce including vegetables, fruit, honey, cheese, jam and more sourced from different corners of Turkey. In the early hours of Sunday, antique dealers replace the greengrocers and set up their stalls selling all manner of antiques, knick knacks, vinyl records, old books, magazines, original film posters and treasures waiting to be found. Don't forget to try some of the excellent fresh gözleme served by the elderly ladies near the entrance.
Istanbul’s premier live music venue Babylon has singlehandedly transformed Bomonti into the city’s newest nightlife destination after relocating to the neighborhood in September 2015. At its new home in Bomonti, Babylon continues to host some of the best performers from Turkey and around the world. In addition to the main hall, which boasts a state-of-the-art sound system and a 500-person capacity, the venue is also home to Radyo Babylon’s studio and a gift shop.
This photography sanctuary in Bomontiada is home to the iconic German camera manufacturer's store, academy and gallery. Since the company's beginnings in 1914, Leica's 35mm film cameras have shaped the photographic practice of many masters of the craft incuding Henri-Cartier Bresson, Robert Frank and local hero Ara Güler, whose museum sits opposite the Leica Store within the Bomontiada complex. Leica continues to make some of the best cameras in the market, albeit with a hefty price tag. But you don't need to visit the Leica Store and Gallery just to buy a camera and there's more to do here than just window-shop; you can attend a photography workshop or check out the exhibitions in the gallery space showcasing cutting-edge photography from Turkey and abroad.
Alt is a multi-disciplinary art space nestled in the bottom floor of Bomontiada, where it hosts exhibitions, plays, film screenings, performances, talks and concerts. The resident curators of Alt are the team behind A Corner in the World, an independent festival for the performing arts taking place annually since 2015.
Having just opened in Bomontiada, the Ara Güler Museum features the iconic work of legendary Turkish-Armenian photographer Ara Güler, known as the 'eye of Istanbul'. Featuring a rotating cast of exhibitions, the team behind the museum is cataloguing Güler's extensive archive here while planning to turn his longtime studio, the Güler Apartment in Beyoğlu, into a permanent museum.
The design studio and creative hub Atölye mainly functions as a shared workspace for individuals and startups but also regularly hosts talks and workshops related to design, technology and entrepreneurship that are open to the public.