ISTANBUL: Best eating and/or COOKING CLASSES
Going to Istanbul in August (never been) and looking for best tips on greatest eating experiences (street/market/casual/gourmet...)
Also, does anyone know of any short-term cooking classes there taught in English? Say one full day or 3-4 afternoons, something like that? I'm guessing there must be a few options, as it's a food culture and a tourist economy.
Awaiting good advice,
We took a class offered at our hotel, the Sarnic. (There is a restaurant of the same name, but they aren't affiliated.) It was basically a 1/2 day, with a very good lunch at the end of it. Lots of fun, and we were glad we did it.
For a great Turkish mehane experience, check out Yakup 2 in and around the Beyoglu area. Lots of mezes, lots of raki, and lively atmosphere. Also check out Cibalikapi Balikcisi in the Halic area (but make sure you're at Cibalikapi, since there is another Cibali Restoran just up the street that's not as good). It's a mehane of sorts as well, though classier than Yakup, and the grilled fish specials are really nice if you go in the spring, summer, or fall, when fish are fresh and in season.
There's also a nice fish restaurant right on the Bosphorus called Mavi. It's down the street from Reina and Laila.
I also recommend Kosibasi in Besiktas for kebabs and others things from the grill. If you like steak tartare, check out the cig kofte here... it's safe to eat raw meat at this establishment as it's very clean.
For high-end food, try Angelique in Ortakoy - very picturesque and food is decent. Vogue in Besiktas offers a lovely view of the city (it's perched at the top of a set of office towers) but food wasn't all that great.
I was in Istanbul just a couple months ago. Food was great across the board. Better away from the touristy area around the Blue Mosque. Here area couple favorites:
1) Sofyali 9 is a wonderful little restaurant in a small old stone house just off the main road in Beyoglu. Worth finding. They serve hot and cold meze followed by grilled or roasted fish or meat. Great service. Great food. Suprisingly inexpensive. Reservation might be necessary. Stop in for one for later in the week, or call if you speak Turkish.
2) Balikci Sabahattin is a fish restaurant popular with the local crowd. Shouldn't have any trouble getting a table during the week. Outside dining, wonderful fresh fish.
3) For street food definitely try the doner kepab when wandering around at night. Sold everywhere. Doner is Turkish for "spin". These are the places that carve the spinning meat, usually beef or chicken, into a pide or bread. Cost about a dollar. Also try the simit from a cart in the morning. Looks like a large bagel covered in sesame seeds. Great when still warm.
Go to the Spice Bazaar and wander off onto the side shoots. There's a wonderful deli-type place called Namli that specializes in pastirma (the Turkish predecessor of pastrami - a cured meat, anyway) and lots of prepared foods. It also has a good restaurant (sort of steam-table buffet place) upstairs which is patronized largely by locals. The spice bazaar is just overwhelmingly wonderful.
I forgot about the simits! They are so good - ideal to 'gnaw on' in the morning. Actually, the bread in Turkey was wonderful.