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May 11, 2008 10:42 AM

Istanbul in the summer: restaurants w/outdoor seating

Hello All,
My husband and I will be traveling to Turkey in July. We will be in Istanbul for a few days and we're looking for some fabulous restaurants that have outdoor seating and/or great views.
We pretty much eat anything and don't want anything too touristy.
Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. has a fairly lively discussion of eats in Istanbul. A lot of that stuff is going to be germane to what you're looking for, but I have some specific thoughts.

    Çiya Sofrasi in Kadiköy on the Asian side is arguably one of the best restaurants for sheer chow-obsessed flavor in Istanbul. Your table will be on a fairly busy pedestrian-only shopping street, so it's outdoors, though I suspect not necessarily what you had in mind (no commanding views of mosques or historic waterways or palaces, just a batch of other people chowing down extremely happily). It has been roundly praised to the skies, both here and in US travel publications, though so far it hasn't gotten touristy -- so far they have one waiter who speaks English and the clientele appears to be mostly locals and adventurous backpackers. Might be because you have to take a ferry over to Asia and wander down some back streets to get there, but trust me, it's worth it. for more info and a mouth-watering sampler menu.

    Hamdi Et Lokantasi in Eminönü is probably the most famous and best established of the "view" restaurants. From the top floor dining room there is a commanding view of the Bosporus, the Golden Horn and the "European" Karaköy peninsula with the Venetian tower. There is a small terrace with a few outdoor tables, but you'll either need to wheedle some sort of reservation, show up right at opening time or be extremely patient to land one of these. The place is crawling with tourists, but the view may actually be worth putting up with this and food that ranges from middling to competent.

    Doğa Balik is a seafood joint in the Cihangir region of Istanbul. They are in the top floor of a hotel (you have to use the hotel elevator to get up to the place). The views of the Golden Horn and Sultanahmet are breathtaking, though you will want to make a reservation in order to get one of the outdoor tables. The seafood is extremely good, but the best part might be the buffet meze spread that precedes the fish dinner -- incredibly broad range of flavors, textures and ingredients and as far as I can tell, you take whatever you want as part of the price of the meal. It is quite expensive though -- easily double the money at Çiya or Hamdi Et, though arguably worth the money.

    Balikçi Sabahattin is the only restaurant in Sultanahmet worth your time -- most of the other places are overpriced, mediocre tourist traps. They are a seafood place, with a similar menu structure to Doğa Balik and a similar hefty price. All of the seating is outdoors, though it's buried into the side of the Sultanahmet hill, so your view will be of other diners, a few colorful but not particularly historic buildings, and a large number of shameless cats who will beg for scraps shamelessly and amusingly.

    NancyC, another regular poster to this board, has posted a travel blog about eating in Istanbul which is quite helpful:

    I did not get a chance to do this, but you might also want to look into an excursion to Kumkapi, which is on the southern end of Istanbul overlooking the Sea of Marmaris. There have been fishmongers there for centuries, and fresh fish restaurants around there as well. is a useful starting point to investigate going about eating there (and that site has also been useful for me as a resource for fairly dispassionate, plug-free info about Turkey in general).

    Enjoy and stay cool!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dr.Jimbob

      This is probably too late for you, as July as nearly over...but I would recommend spending a great deal of time on Nevizade Street in Beyoglu. Wonderful atmosphere. It's a very narrow alley full of meyhanes (places to eat mezes and drink raki) and ALL of them have outdoor seating.

      Nearby, for cheap outdoor eating without views is another small alley called the "fish street" (balik pazari). I believe they now have a permanent sign so it should be easy to find, near the bottom of the hill on Istiklal street, to the right if you're heading downhill. Cheap fried mussels, cheap stuffed mussels, cheap tables and chairs.

      Also for more outdoor eating with views of the water but not necessarily SPECTACULAR food, go to Ortakoy. This neighborhood was still very little touristed as of 2006, not sure how it is these days. There is a lovely mosque and a weekend market, but the shopping there is good at anytime. One bizarre food item I mentioned in my travelogue is kumpir, a baked potato stuffed with whatever random crap you want...among the choices are couscous, olives, hotdogs, potato salad, beets, etc. I believe it's available in other parts of Istanbul but it's extremely prominent in Ortakoy. Ortakoy also has a high concentration of gozleme (crepe) stands.

      Hope you have a wonderful time...Istanbul is a fabulous place!