ISTANBUL: Seeking great kebabs, seafood and baklavah.....
Will be visiting Istanbul in late June and would love some recommendations on authentic turkish restaurants serving kebabs and other meat items - looking for a "hole in the wall" serving the local community. Also looking for a inexpensive but good seafood place with a view of the Bosphorus. Lastly, where can I find the best baklavah? Thanks!
Hole in the walls are everywhere. We visited several and found that the less they looked like they catered to tourists, the better the kebabs. So just wander and eat - it's fabulous. Baklava is also everywhere. If you're staying in Sultanhamet, you might want to try the baklava bakery that's on the ground floor of the same building where the restaurant Hamdi is located. This is near the Egyptian Bazaar (Spice Bazaar) just off a fairly large open plaza that overlooks the Galata Bridge. (Find Hamdi in a guidebook - it's very popular - and you'll find the bakery downstairs.)
We found the seafood to be quite expensive, compared to everything else. However, if you get away from the main tourist zone, you might get lucky. One thing you might want to consider is taking the ferry from Eminonu to Anadolu Kavaggi. It's probably close to 2 hours on the ferry, a beautiful cruise up the Bosphorus, at which point you're deposited in the village of Anadolu Kavaggi. There are lots of fish restaurants there, overlooking the water. You can also hike up to the top of the hill where there's a ruined fortress. The ferry returns to Istanbul 2 or 3 hours later. This is a regular scheduled ferry with a few stops along the way - and very cheap. I can't recall the price but it was the best way to see the Bosphorus and a wonderful day's outing. Buy your tickets ONLY from the official ticket booth near the ferry dock - independent sellers go around trying to snare tourists and charge them much more for a supposedly better tour. Just go on the regular boat and it's great.
For baklava, you should try Gulluoglu. It's a little difficult to find, it's near Eminonu. The best way to find it is to ask around, any shop keeper would show you where it is. For a high end kebap experience try Tike. There are four of them in Istanbul, but that doesn't take away from the quality.
The best restaurant in Istanbul, in my opinion, is Ciya Sofrasi in Kadikoy. Definitely worth the ferry ride.
Also recommend any of the meyhanes on Nevizade Sokak, not many tourists and fabulous food.
A nice seafood place with a view is Doga Balik in Cihangir. 7th floor, lots of windows. Fish is whatever is fresh (you pick from a case) and then choose your mezes. Waitstaff extremely attentive.
Kebabs are wonderful, but don't miss out on "other meat items" like Iskender kebab--heart attack on a plate, available widely but the most decadent version is at Ciya--and lahmacun, the very thin lamb-coated flatbread.
Also very local: the fish street (Balik Pazari) and kumpir.
Balik Pazari is off Istiklal Caddesi, had a red banner across it the first time I was there, was unmarked the second time, and a friend who went a year later said there is now a permanent metal sign. You can get mussels stuffed with seasoned rice or fried mussels here, very cheaply.
Kumpir is a bizarre baked potato that I'll probably never have again but it was certainly interesting. They take a huge baked potato, whip the contents inside the skin w/ butter and cream, and then show you the toppings bar...featuring such typical items as green & black olives, beets, corn, shredded carrots, couscous, hotdogs, coleslaw and potato salad. Costs 5YTL and is very filling, and apparently quite loved by the locals.
For some photos and longer descriptions, you can see my Istanbul journal here:
Unfortunately I only troll this board on occasion, so this probably won't be useful for the original poster. However, I did want to vouch for NancyC's helpful journal, and for the very high quality of the food and prices at Ciya Sofrasi on the Asian side (though I think the ferry ride is worth doing on its own, the fact that Ciya is on the other side is worth the schlep from the terminal). Doga Balik has food and a view (though on busy nights, you'll want to make a reservation for a better shot at an outdoor table) but the prices are pretty steep, as they are at Balikci Sabahattin in Sultanahmet.
I also wanted to point out that there are two distinct, rival chains that may have had common employees once upon a time, but are no longer the same thing. One is called Güllüoğlu, which is a fairly big and well distributed brand (you can get it in every other stall in the Spice Bazaar, you can find it in two shops in Boston and they even have an outlet in New York; http://www.gulluoglubaklava.com/ is the web site). The other is called Karaköy Güllüoğlu, which has one or two outlets only and has no major distribution apart from Atatürk Airport's duty free shops as far as I can tell. The latter has a web site at http://www.gulluoglu.biz/
In a straight-up showdown between the two, I'd opt for Karaköy Güllüoğlu. For one thing, they package a low-syrup version of baklava that isn't as runny. It's ostensibly designed for traveling with (and it does indeed travel very well), but it also takes out the sickeningly sweet syrup overdose that curses most baklava in my book. Also, Karaköy Güllüoğlu appears to be the brand that garners more respect among locals -- my wife carried around a Karaköy Güllüoğlu shopping bag with her to the Grand Bazaar because she didn't have time to get back to the hotel, and suddenly she turned from being a tourist sicced on by every tout in the Bazaar to a local who was left alone. I don't think you'll get that kind of respect with a Güllüoğlu bag.
Hii, I am definitly agree about baklava best place GULLUOGLU baklava best in town them main adress KARAKOY(rihtim cad, katotoparki alti karakoy)this is the adress, they have shop under multi-storey carpark TRY sutlu-nuriye means milky-nuriye , just try ,for kebab www.ziyasark.com.tr these the place for kebab they are just incredible they 5 restaurant in istanbul when you web adress they have FATIH branch from the centre in Taksim just 10 KM with cab around 20 dolar, Guys if you want eat fish best place in yesilkoy area (FOR ME) yesilkoy by the airport also you have vie about marmara sea, but if you want eat bosphorus best place (KANDILLI iskele cad.) just name balikci They have restaurant by the sea also KANDILLI WHARF they are superr
also any way guys enjoy your time in istanbul ALSO visit the ORTAKOY bazaar saturday and sunday I believe you will enjoy this place as well if you have any question send me email I used live this city more than 25 years