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.
Concealed amid the business-class lounges, this spacious, sunlit restaurant looks as if it would be forbidden to steerage passengers, but it’s not.
Goldsmiths, rug lords, and copperware kings pack into the homey Subaşi for fortifying white beans in tomato sauce and chicken stuffed with rice.
In Turkey, the Özkanca family is synonymous with premier restaurants and cuisine. One of their best-loved ventures is located in the Istanbul Convention and Exhibition Centre just north of Taksim Square.
Most visitors don’t make it to the northerly, beautiful neighborhood of Bebek, though they should (it’s like the Marin County of Istanbul).
Mabeyin restaurant takes its name from the area between the harem (women’s section) and selamlik (men’s section) in Ottoman palaces where receptions and banquets were held for guests.
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.
Grab a seat in the garden of this Sultanahmet seafood restaurant. The mezes, small appetizer plates of roasted red peppers and marinated octopus, make for perfect snacks and are best enjoyed ith a glass of raki, Turkey's signature liquor.
Set right on the Bosporus, this relaxed Mediterranean eatery recalls the waterfront cafés of Mill Valley and Sausalito.
It may be one of the hottest restaurants in town, on the old embassy row, but 360’s modern-fusion cooking isn’t the only reason to come. The other lure is the view of Istanbul, spreading out beyond the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
On a street lined with carpet shops near the Arasta Bazaar, this restaurant, whose owners hail from Turkey’s eastern Lake Van area, serves up the region’s puffy breads, herb-flecked otlu cheese, and addictive tahini spread.
This museum restaurant is noted for its neo-60’s interior of unpolished
oak and black-leather banquettes. Try the olive oil–braised celery root
enlivened with tangerine, and rosy lamb chops, from the smart
The antiques-filled restaurant, known for its home-style stews, is set in an old Ottoman row house under the shadow of the Blue Mosque. Reserve a window table for the 8 p.m. light show.
A romantic restaurant with live jazz performers and sophisticate-filled outdoor tables.