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Jul 30, 2008 04:13 AM

Istanbul Best Restaurants


I will be in Istanbul for 2/3 nights in August and wanted to ask where to eat.
Price is not an issue, I just want to know where the best food is.
Interested in all cuisines, but probably most likely to look at one fish and one traditonal/kebab dinner.


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  1. Hi Sagol,

    I travel to Sultanahmet about twice a year and have eaten at many of the restaurants. My favorite fish restaurants are Sabatan and Boukoleon, Sabatan is mostly an outdoor garden atmosphere whereas Boukoleon is indoors with linen tablecloths. I would suggest reservations at either restaurant. You can probably reserve seating online with either of them.
    A very nice kebap restaurant is Tarihi Cesme (pronounced Cheshme). The price is $$ and dining is offered indoors or out. Another nice kebap restaurant is Kìr Evi (pronounced Kur evee). It is close to the tramway and at the end of the street of restaurants. The owner is Kadir, a good friend of mine. He also has a coffee/nargele bar next doors and always has live music for his outdoor diners.

    All of these restaurants are within walking distance of each other and the two kebap restaurants know me, so, if you dine at either, tell the owner that I said hello.

    Ellen Terry

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ellen Terry

      Hi Ellen,
      Thanks for the response!
      Quick query - is that Sabatan or Sabahattin (in Sultanahmet, behind Armada Hotel)? If it is, that is definately on my list. I have not heard of Boukoleon, will look it up though.
      I am unfamiliar with the kebabs, but Cesme looks nice from the website. I will investigate further!
      Hopefully, I will be able to try at least one of these, but being part of a large group, I don't have final say on where to eat (dammit!)
      I will indeed pass on your regards!
      Thanks again, Ellen.

      p.s. my name is not sagol. My signoff ought to have read sağol (i.e. thanks), but I was to lazy to add the soft g...

    2. I'd suggest you to get out of the kebap zone to experience Turkish food. Frankly I find it upsetting that not only tourists, but locals have started to think that Turkish food is all about kebaps. So please experience some vegetable or different meat dishes (some of them might be called kebaps, but no m'am they are not just meats on a stick).

      And one should definitely have fish dinner in Istanbul. Having grown up in Turkey, I cannot stomach most of the fish that passes as "fresh" in North America; although every year I visit, I sadly see that things are also getting worse on that side of the ocean. Haven't been to Turkey for years, so I am not confident in my recommendations about fish, but there were a few recent threads that had some solid recommendations. Refik is classic for a meyhane style fish dinner (think Turkish tapas)

      For an out of the ordinary lunch, I'd suggest Ciya Sofrasi. They serve many forgotten dishes that you'd never see in generic kebap houses. I lived in Turkey for 20+ years, and never before tried some of the dishes they serve before visiting there:

      Another place good for lunch is Haci Abdullah (and is on a very nice touristic neighborhood). They serve classic Ottoman cuisine. Kind of pricy, and you perhaps could get same quality food at a hole in the wall, but the atmosphere is nice and they are tourist friendly. There is a similar place in Misir Carsisi, which is called Pandeli.

      Feriye is reportedly really good too, with a nice terrace and a breathtaking view, but never tried personally.

      Another restaurant with breathtaking view is Hamdi, a upscale kebap house. Again never tried, but friends whose palates I respect had once said that it was the best kebap house in Istanbul. (I am not originally from Istanbul, so my experience is limited, but I can ask friends more if you'd like


      For people of Turkey, the view from your table is as important as good companion when you are eating. So there will be a lot of places where you'll get hypnotized by the view of the Bosporus (the water, the minarets, the lights) and forget to bring your fork to your mouth. Take advantage of this beauty. I miss it dearly.