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,
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 have taken the "Cooking Alaturka" cooking class several times when they were held at the Sarnic Hotel and just did it again in April in the new location in Sultanahmet. I can highly recommend it. The new facility is more light and airy than the Sarnic Hotel location. If your spouse or traveling partner isn't interested in the course, invite them to join you for the lunch portion when you get to sample your work! It's great fun! More info. at www.cookingalaturka.com
Just an update - I took the Cooking a la Turka class in July of this year and enjoyed it quite a bit. I thought the price was a bit steep (60 euros), but it was a good diversion and the food was fantastic. The space (kitchen, dining room area) are very nice and recently remodeled.
I am headed to Istanbul in a few weeks. I was at Zuni in San Francisco several months ago and met one of the waiters, who is Turkish. He e-mailed me his recommendations. I can't vouch for any of these, but I am definitely going to try as many as I can during my stay in Istanbul. Zuni is a little high-end, so I think that's why he gave me so many expensive recs.
Hamdi Restaurant; has a magnificient view in the old part of city and has nice anatolian kitchen taste. Fisdikli kebap is their special dish. I would recommend you to reserve a table on terrace.
Haci Baba: this restaurant is in downtown. A real turkish kitchen. They serve since 1920's. Very old restaurant. It is located in Istiklal street- Beyoglu.
Balikci Sebahattin: Located in old town- Sultanahmet. It is a fish restaurant. You might see it in your guide book. because it is a very touristic place. Also locals go there too.
Kumkapi Restaurants: This location is serving seafoods. It is a district with about a hundred restaurants. But they are all touristic. So be carefull if you go there. But you may like it bceause it is very traditional. very pricey too.
Nevizade street: There are alot of fish restaurant in this street. It is just behind Flower(cicek) Passage. this street is a parrallel street to Istiklal street.
Sunset Restaurant: Very high end restaurant which located in Ulus. A perfect view of the Bosphorros. Reservation is needed
Feriye Lokantasi: Another high-end restaurant which located on bosphorros. just on the shore. Reservation is needed.
Ciya Restaurant: this restaurant is located in Kadikoy. In Anatolian side. so you may take ferry to cross the bosphorros.
One of the most fun and relaxing travel eating experiences I have had was this: the chef/cook who assisted in the Sarnic cooking class cooked DH and me a private lunch, after he and I had an exhausting morning looking at mosques. I don't know if this is available in the new set up -- Eveline used to keep this cook on full-time in case her hotel guests arrived hungry. We called in the morning to book and arrived at lunch time. We ate what was put before us, basically a cooking class menu. Eveline e-mailed me recipes after I returned to USA. It was the quiet (no one else was there), the no decisions and the quality of the food that made it memorable.