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.
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.
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
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.
Quality sushi is an exceptionally rare find in Istanbul, but thanks to international chain Zuma, it now can be had opposite the Radisson Blu hotel in Ortakoy.
In the Beyoglu district of Istanbul, the Pera neighborhood has staged a comeback of recent years, reclaiming its title of the hippest neighborhood. Adding to the neighborhood's bohemian vibe is Nu Teras, a rooftop dance club for the young and well-to-do.
Even if contemporary Turkish art isn’t your cup of çay, visit Istanbul this repurpose warehouse museum for its stylish café and waterfront terrace.
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.
Siraselviler Caddesi leads to one of the trendiest neighborhoods of Cihangir, where much of Istanbul’s expatriate community lives. Many of them have started businesses like Changa.
From the outside, it’s just another soot-streaked, film-noirish Istanbul apartment building. But once you enter and take the tiny elevator to the fifth floor, you’ll find a rooftop restaurant with fairy lights and a staggering view of the Bosporus.
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.
Starched white tablecloths, the smell of spices, and plenty of bustle and clamor accompany the plates of spicy kebaps at Istanbul’s favorite Anatolian restaurant.
One of the many meyhane-style restaurants in the bohemian Asmali Mescit neighborhood, Refik distinguishes with its cuisine and storied past. A long-time haunt of leftist intellectuals, the walls are covered with photos, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia of the last 50 years.