Eating in Istanbul?
re: Matt H
Hi - I'm going to be in Istanbul next weekend and was hoping to get some tips. I went to Istanbul about 10 years ago and had a fantastic time. But I feel like I didn't make the most of my experience related to food and shopping. I have the luxe guide and also a lot of restaurant recommendations from Turkish friends of friends.
What I want to know is:
1) are there must try dishes (one of my favorites from the first trip are the stuffed mussels that you get from the street after a long night out)
2) are there any spices that I should pick up from the spice market
3) other than rugs, which I don't need, is there anything that Turkey makes that I should check out
4) are there any must do's that I should look into (I've done all the basic tourist stuff on the first trip)
Hi Fred, it would take me hours to write everything you need to know but im going to be lazy and cut and paste from my blog (ParlaFood).
where to stay:
While hotels in the Sultanahmet district and the five-star options along the Bosphorus are the best known accommodations, I always suggest that visitors stay in Beyoğlu, a set of neighborhoods spread over the hills between the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus instead. Beyoğlu’s neighborhoods like Cihangir, Tünel, Pera, and Asmalımescit are packed with restaurants, bars, shops and clubs. This is the city’s most vibrant destination for nightlife and socializing and is a far more exciting place to stay than Sultanahmet (which tends to be quite desolate at night) or along Bosphorus (where hotels are flanked by a the traffic-strangled road). Here are a few accommodations in Beyoğlu that I recommend:
The House Apart: Apartment rentals in Cihangir and Tünel mod cons and IKEA furnishings.
Marmara Pera: A 4-star hotel in Pera geared towards business travelers and discerning tourists. Some rooms have Bosphorus views and Mikla, the rooftop restaurant, is worth a visit whether you are staying at the Marmara or not.
Grand Hotel de Londres: In Pera near the Marmara with a range of rooms that vary wildly in price depending on the presence or absence of windows. The price and location make the windowless rooms a worthy sacrifice for budget travelers.
Tomtom Suites: 20 suites and a panoramic roof terrace near the Italian consulate in Tophane.
Lush: A boutique hotel just off Taksim with 35 individually designed rooms, some with their own Turkish bath.
Any of these places will put you in striking distance of Istiklal Caddesi, the main shopping avenue, the funicular that heads down to the Golden Horn and Galata Bridge from Tünel, and great restaurants like Mikla, Refik, Canım Ciğerim , Antiochia, and Pera Sisore.
where to eat:
Iskele: Beneath the Ottoman Fortress Rumeli Hisarı and Second Boshphorus Bridge, Iskele is one of the city’s most well loved fish restaurants. Serving excellent mezes, whole fish, and plenty of rakı, I admit I had two very fattening meals there last week.
Van Kahvaltı Evi: Van breakfast culture is so varied and fattening, it conjures memories of Sunday brunch at home in New Jersey. If they served bagels, it would move in.
Baylan: This old school Greek pastry shop on the Asian side is famous for its Kup Griye, basically a bucket of ice cream with crème Chantilly, caramel sauce, toasted nuts, and toffee. I ate this after Antebi and I don’t regret it. I am trying to get the blasphemous image of the super shiny ultra posh Bebek location out of my mine.
Çiya Sofrası: Always a pleasure, from the lahmacun and kebabs to the candied baby eggplant and katmer. I had my usual, mumbar dolması, and it was a delight.
Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi: Grilled köfte, white bean salad, and ekmek kadayif (syrup soaked semolina with kaymak), perfect together.
Also, don't miss Kantin (in Nisantisi) which is owned by the wonderfully talented chef Semsa Denizel.
Aside from the obvious places, i highly recommend the chora museum, a byzantine church clad in glass and gold mosaics. i also love rustem pasa camii, a 16th century mosque designed by sinan tucked away near the spice bazaar. devote some time to the food in kadikoy, and try to make it up to rumeli hisari and then past the second bridge for a stroll along the bosphorus.