Istanbul

Restaurants in Istanbul

In spite of rich Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean influences, restaurants in Istanbul aren't known for excellence. But what many Istanbul restaurants lack in culinary innovation they tend to make up for extensive menus and excellent views of the city and beyond.

Some of the best restaurants in Istanbul with such panoramas include the chic 360 Istanbul, in Beyoglu, and Ulus 29, set back in a beautiful hillside neighborhood. In general, it's best to avoid dining out in the Old City, or Sultanahmet, where the restaurants cater to tourists. For a more traditional meal, consider Asitane, which offers a selection of lamb dishes (bonus: the large menu is written in English).

Another option in a similar vein is Ciya Sofrasi, which serves more exotic combinations such as mumbar, or sheep intestine filled with rice and lamb. If you're a less adventurous eater and in the mood for standout seafood, try the modestly decorated Balıkçı Kahraman. Also consider checking out the district of Ortakoy, near the Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, which has some peaceful spots.

Architects and designers hold lunch meetings over bowls of just-like-mom’s bulgur.

If you’re not quite ready to plunge into Turkish culture the moment you arrive, pop in for one last half-caf Venti skinny latte before you leave the airport. The comfy chairs make it a good place to read a newspaper, and it’s normally quiet.

Sunset, when the mosques and minarets glow like fire and the city lights twinkle, is the time to hit this spot on the top floor of the Goethe Institute.

If the name of this rooftop bistro in the city's Beverly-Hills-type neighborhood of Bebek betrays a certain European flavor, it’s not by accident.

Even if contemporary Turkish art isn’t your cup of çay, visit Istanbul this repurpose warehouse museum for its stylish café and waterfront terrace.

Vogue’s location on the top floor of Besiktas Plaza also represents a status that includes top-tier clientele, cuisine, and cost.

The plasma TVs are often tuned to the sports channel, usually showing a football (soccer) game, in this café and bar. It’s the only restaurant after Passport Control with free Wi-Fi. It can be noisy, but the central location makes it a good meeting point.

Forget the burger-joint visions the name connotes: this elegant rooftop spot is one of the city’s most sophisticated dining destinations.

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.

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.

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

Concealed amid the business-class lounges, this spacious, sunlit restaurant looks as if it would be forbidden to steerage passengers, but it’s not.

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