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Jan 28, 2010 10:29 PM

Where to eat in Sultanahmet, Istanbul

Like many posters on this board, I've searched hard and still had many a disappointing meal in Sultanahmet, Istanbul. The place is just a minefield of tourist traps, guys hassling you on the street to buy rugs or eat in their restaurant. It can be hell. But that's where the monuments are and you just can't miss the Aya Sofia.
Here's a link to what looks like a very promising resource for people looking to avoid the tourist traps around there. I can vouch for the spots on Hocapasa Sokak. Its really a diner's paradise.

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  1. Hey Antman
    After a week in Sultanahmet recently I can say you speak the truth.Good food means a long hike.

    Out of Sultanahmet.

    I did find a great,ridiculously under the radar joint though. Emine's Place is tiny,perhaps 200 square feet but when he has the grill fired up out front he makes estimable kebabs.

    It's on Akbiyik Caddesi near Cooking a al Turka.

    Full review coming.

    Already planning a return visit to your fine city too.

    7 Replies
    1. re: scrumptiouschef

      Welcome back Scrumptious Chef. Emine's Place sounds interesting. I'll check it out next time I am down there.
      I had a great lunch up at Simsek Pide in Taksim. The owner was telling me about a group of American "cowboys" who came in a few days in a row a few months ago. Could it have been you?
      I am still looking forward to reading your trip report.

      1. re: antman

        Didn't make it to Simsek but did manage to knock about 3 dozen places off my list.

        I've been slow getting the words up but here's a link to a couple reviews:

        I'll be getting a few more up later this week. Can't wait to get back to Istanbul.

        Emine's hours are spotty but he typically opened around 4 pm. Most nights I didn't leave til about 5am, so it's a good latenight option, the only one I found in Sultanahmet.

        You'd like it.

        It's really the closest thing I found to a pleasantly gritty lounge in Istanbul.

        Be aware that he doesn't always do food. Only when the mood strikes but when smoke is rolling off the streetside grill it's definitely worth a visit.

        1. re: scrumptiouschef

          scrumptiouschef, antman,

          what is traveling in istanbul like recently? we were considering visiting soon and was wondering if it's a relatively safe and friendly city. is it easy to get by with speaking english? have already seen and it seems like a great resource. thanks!

          1. re: speedm

            Traveling through the city is a real pleasure.

            The Turks[ and Armenians and Kurds] will heap the hospitality on you. Once they find out you're an American you'll be treated like a king.

            Istanbul reminded me of the Deep South in the sense that everyone is friendly and excited to hear from you. The English speaking Turks will be really eager to practice their verbal skills with you. I found it to be really charming.

            Since we're on Chow we have to speak of the food and it's beyond compare. Obviously is the preeminent source of info. If you'd like to see secondary reviews of some of their favorites you might head over to also.

            Enjoy Istanbul, I've traveled a fair amount and it's the finest vacation spot I could ever imagine.As a food city,outside of Mexico City or New York, it's right at the pinnacle.

            1. re: scrumptiouschef

              thanks so much scrumptiouschef, that was exactly what i was hoping to hear. of course it's all about the food, that's one of the main reasons we're considering istanbul. i've already begun perusing your reviews, another great resource, thank you!

              1. re: speedm

                Speedm, if you are asking about the feeling on the street, in light of the recent political turmoil, all is well. really, you wont feel it as a tourist.
                As scrumptiouschef points out, focus on the food.
                Enjoy your trip.

                1. re: antman

                  thanks for your insight, antman. much appreciated.

    2. Go to Restaurant Tamara and get the full Kurdish breakfast. Ask additionally for the omelet with lamb sausage and also for the hazelnut spread. Plus get fresh pomagranete juice and Turkish tea. Ask to sit on the roof if it's nice out.
      There's a pretty good kebap and pide place across from the Basilica Hotel called Inciralti Kebap and Pide Salonu. It's not far from the Ayasofya. Also, there's a kofte place that's three stories tall right across from the Sultanahmet tram. If you go into the Spice Market there's a crap ton of awesome street food places if you're not inside the building. My boyfriend took me to this cool coffee place that specializes in chocolate near the Grand's call Cacao or something like that. It's a nice break if you can find it.
      My boyfriend tended to take me to places way off the the main streets.