Istanbul, 5 days, money no object
but eating only at super fancy touristy places just for the sake of it not an object either.
I find it difficult to come up with a consensus list - Istanbuleats.com seem to prefer inexpensive "chowhound" type places (yes, I've read their top 10 recommendations and most of that site, it makes me extremely hungry), the places Vedat Milor mentions on his blog for kepab are described elsewhere as being terribly touristy. So far it seems like Çiya Sofrası is necessary. Abracadabra too?
What are 3 or 4 great fish and seafood places? As I've mentioned on the France board about Lyon's bouchons - there seem to be as many different recommendations as there are posters - one person's tourist trap seems like another's fishy heaven. I don't much care if they have a view of the Bosphorus or of a parking lot but I do care about fresh, well handled and well cooked catch. How about kebap?
(sorry, I accidentally posted this in International before)
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i think you will find that the best value in Istanbul is found at the mid-lower range of the budget scale. the higher end places often do not impress. for example, Lacivert. thats a really high priced bad restaurant. to be avoided.
go to Abracadabra and, by God, dont miss Ciya.
For an elegant dinner with great views, I like MuzedeChanga. They get a bit ahead of themselves with all that fusion stuff but there are fine seafood offerings on the menu cooked perfectly.
for a seafood lunch (no booze, sadly) my top two are Tarihi Karakoy Balikcisi (TKB) and Adem Baba in Arnavutkoy. Both of these places are dealing with top quality material and answer to a demanding local audience. they are not tourist traps.
TKB recently opened a place upstairs called Grifin (you can find the review on istanbuleats.com) which has equally excellent fish, great views and alcohol.
my favorite place is Zubeyir in Beyoglu. its always reliable and not touristy at all. for a slightly fancier setting and, admittedly, slightly higher quality, try Tike in Etiler. they have a lovely garden and really good kebabs.
Gotta disagree on the Abracadabra advice antman. The place is not all that exciting and for someone coming to Istanbul for 5 days, there are certainly other more consistent places to recommend.
If money is no object, go to Mikla. It is pricey but Mehmet Gurs does an excellent job blending his Scandanavian and Mediterranean culinary influences and the wine list is one of the best in town.
You can certainly splurge on fish at Iskele in Rumeli Hisari. It is set below the Second Bosphorus Bridge and sits right on the water.
We went to Iskele and it was great. Even the service was reasonable. We also went to Ismet Baba, highly touted on istanbuleats. It cost exactly half as much for a very similar meal, but it was also more or less half as good in terms of quality of ingredients and preparation.
I think antman's assertion that expensive restaurants in Istanbul are necessarily tourist traps might be true in the majority of cases but certainly not in all cases - for example there was only one more table with tourists at Iskele, and another with Russian mafia (do they count as tourists?). For a visitor with limited and expensive time in Istanbul, and for whom spending 280 Turkish Lira is hardly a huge splurge (you can drop that on sushi in 45 minutes in New York), the expensive option might be the right one, especially when it includes near-sashimi Lakerda. I'll post more details on these meals and others on mouthfuls.
I'm glad Iskele worked out. Between you and Katie's accolades, I'll have to get back there soon.
Not to be a pain, but I didnt say that high end means tourist trap. I said "higher end places often do not impress". By that I meant the more costly places in town that often turn up in NYT articles or manage to get good publicity are often way off keel in terms of value. A restaurant's hype in Istanbul often has less to do with the the food than the brand of the furniture and what socialites hang out there. Prices tend to follow suit. That's what I was getting at.