Restaurants in Istanbul

When Semsa Denizsel opened Kantin in 2000, she wanted to both remind Istanbullus of their culinary heritage and introduce them to the idea of slow food.

Most visitors don’t make it to the northerly, beautiful neighborhood of Bebek, though they should (it’s like the Marin County of Istanbul).

In Istanbul, big business takes place in the skyscrapers in the Levent neighborhood, and those working in that area often dine at Kösebasi.

Famished after haggling for kilims at the Covered Bazaar? It’s worth tracking down to this macho kebab dive colonized by gaggles of mustached vendors.

The rooftop lounge at this bar-and-restaurant complex is Beyoglu’s party central.

The food is fresh, healthy, and reasonably priced at this buffet-style international restaurant. You can find surprisingly good Turkish meze, such as stuffed grape leaves and smoked eggplant with lemon, at the salad bar in the center island.

The height of glamour, atop the hotel Marmara Pera, Mikla has some of the best vistas in town. Swedish-born star chef Mehmet Gürs’s Mediterranean-inspired dishes don’t come cheap, but for the patrons here, money really doesn’t matter.

The meyhane (drinking house) is the Turkish version of a tapas bar, where small mezes and fish are washed down with glasses of raki, a bracing anise-flavored liquor. The city is full of them, but Bonçuk, where strolling fasil musicians entertain diners, is one of the best.

At the picturesque Cebeci Han caravansary, this spot serves the city's tastiest kebabs.

In a neighborhood filled with snootily fashionable terrace cafés—where the waitstaff seem to make a special point of ignoring you—Atika stands out for its genial atmosphere of bonhomie.

West of the central tourist area of Sultanahmet, the neighborhood of Samatya is home to this long-time area restaurant. Develi has been serving southeast Anatolian cuisine to locals and expats since 1966.

Goldsmiths, rug lords, and copperware kings pack into the homey Subaşi for fortifying white beans in tomato sauce and chicken stuffed with rice.

Turkish ice cream is stickier and chewier than its Western counterpart—it stretches. You can’t get it anywhere but Turkey. The secret ingredient is salep, the ground tubers of wild orchids.

The Tugra was the calligraphic seal of the Ottoman Sultans. No doubt the restaurant of the same name now located in the sumptuous 19th-century Ciragan Palace on the western shore of the Bosphorus would get one of approval.