Istanbul NYE Suggestions
Our family will be celebrating New Years in Istanbul this year. We are looking for recommendations for where we should book dinner for NYE. I've done some searches and come up with minimal results. Most of what I've seen claims that Istanbul's five-star hotels are the place to be for dinner and revelry. Our group is five adults, and we could do that drill if its really the thing to do, but I've got to believe there are other options. Something with a turkish flare and not tourist central. Four of the five of us love to eat (my DW prefers healthy but she'll make do), maybe some local entertainment? Belly dancing? Any all suggestions are welcome. Thanks.
If it were me, I'd go to one of the meyhanes on Nevizade St. Not touristy at all (nothing in Beyoglu is that touristy, in my opinion). Nevizade is still not particularly touted in the guidebooks, which tend to favor meyhanes Cicek Pasari nearby. They are crowded with locals, loud and fun, and I'd imagine they'd be great for New Year's! Most of the dishes are usually vegetarian, which is not quite the same as healthy...but that might be appealing for you! I particularly like Imroz but locals would tell me they're all essentially the same.
Feredun Ugumu's restaurant Hunkar. It has relocated from Fatih into the more upscale center near the mosques and museums. You can Google it for an address. The man is gifted in the extreme ... comes from a family of chefs - and one brother has a produce business. Anything with eggplant, esp Hunkar Begendi, is excellent. He once told someone with a totally straight and somber face that there are over 2 million ways to prepare eggplant in Turkey. He is master of them all. The new space is very beautiful. I got to work with him on a 3-day workshop sponsored by the World Olive Oil Council ... he is one of the best chefs I have ever worked with.
I was in Istanbul in 2005 for NYE, visiting a friend. They took me to a typical, moderately upscale fish restaurant on the Asian side (just near the bridge) called Angel. It was without doubt the best NYE I've ever had. Five hours of one course after another, the room full of large Turkish families (the paterfamilias at the head of the table, the old grandmother in a headscarf and the teenagers very chic). There was a band, a procession of singers, and a belly dancer. After the first few rounds of wine and raki, all tables began singing and dancing along; at midnight there were fireworks from all over the european side.
From what I could tell, all the fish places along the Bosphorus put on a similar show, and you'll get a similar crowd of Turkish families. (On the European side, I went several times, not for NYE of course, to Mavi Balik, on the way to Arnavutkoy--modern attractive and very good meze and fish). The restaurant in the Bebek Hotel is good too.
We booked dinner at Seven Hills Hotel near the Blue Mosque. My in-laws stayed there on their previous trip to Istanbul and loved their rooftop restaurant. We've been promised the following:
"We’re going to serve a Deluxe Menu Dinner for that evening with some specials. All is going to serve as open buffet to the tables. It will be a perfectly appreciated dinner indeed. All the beverages are going to be served unlimited as much as you can drink :-) There will be a famous singer who is Turkish will make music for the all night. There is going to be the belly dancers and some many more surprises will make you enjoyed the night. The fee of this programme is 100 Euros per person with all inclusives"
Who knows what the deluxe menu entails, but it at least sounds like fun! Hope for good weather...