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Feb 26, 2011 02:38 AM

Istanbul - help me design my ideal foodie tour

Sorry - Istanbul (understandably) features both on here and the Middle East/Asia board, so covering my options and therefore apologies for duplicate post!)

We're off to Istanbul in April and SO excited about it. We're there for a decent amount of time - Tues-Mon - so have elected to stay outside the city at A'jia Hotel in Kanlica. We'll chill there in between sightseeing and, obviously, eating!

I LOVE food. Think about it every minute of the day. And will eat anything. I prefer either cheap, authentic places or high end, fabulous places. So my local Venezuelan cafe or Noma. What I don't like are mid level places charging mid level prices for mid level food - waste of money. The only common denominator is it has to be GOOD. For instance, really excited about the idea of having fresh fish grilled off the boat by the Galata Bridge.

So can some kind soul put together our ideal itinerary of street food and blow out meals? And is there anywhere near the hotel that's OK or will we always have to cross into the city? Given the time we have, would be brilliant to venture further afield if it's worth it ie up towards the Black Sea, islands, further into Turkey etc.

My shortlist gleaned from guidebooks so far is as follows - would appreciate your guidance on whether they've got it right!

Cooking Alaturka
Zinhan at Storks
Hamdi et Lokantasi
Burc Ocakbasi
Doga Balik
Tarihi Karakoy Balik Lokantasi
Sofyali 9
Haci Abdullah

Recommedations for nice bars would be great too!

Thanks so much! If someone gives particularly brilliant advice we'd be more than happy to meet you and buy you lunch and/or give you some London tips!

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  1. Lucky you. Istanbul is one of my favorite cities. I recommend checking out Istanbul Eats for recommendations:
    Çiya Sofresi is very well-known and deservedly so for their regional specialities.

    1. Definitely start with Of the places on your list, Tarihi Karakoy Balik Lokantasi is excellent (only go at lunch when the master grill man is there) and I like Mikla a lot, though be prepared to splurge. Sofyali 9 is alright but I just had an outstanding dinner at Asmali Cavit (Asmalı Sokak) and would recommend it over the other meyhane in the area. If you are desperate to eat a meal overlooking the Golden Horn, then Hamdi is fine but by no means is it extraordinary. I am not familiar with Cooking Alaturka, but I have sent several clients to Selin at Turkish Flavors and they have all raved.

      1. As KP said, Mikla is great but steep.
        Zeyrekhane is a good place for a beer in the afternoon, but aside from the peanuts, i wouldnt eat there.
        Hamdi is underwhelming and I have reason to question their integrity on the bill. I have heard several stories of padding the bill for foreigners.
        A lunch at Tarihi Karakoy Balikcisi is a must. It is only open during the week.
        For a splash out dinner on the water, I have heard good things from reliable sources about Topaz but I haven't been myself. For a traditional fish meal on the water why not go to Iskele in Rumeli Hisari or Kiyi in Tarabya. I prefer both over Doga Balik.
        For years I've had consistently excellent lunches at sofyali 9 but sometimes quality and service vary at dinner time. I recently discovered a great meyhane alternative called Mohti. It specializes in eastern Black Sea cuisine. Great food, but best when the hamsi are running (winter months).
        Mezze across from the Pera Palace is one of my favorites these days. The chef, Gencay is really taking N. Aegean cuisine to a higher level. He speaks English and is glad to get involved in your evening. You can have a meyhane-style dinner (raki, meze, fish, ara sicak, good times) but with better quality food than most meyhane around.
        have a great trip!


        1. Mikla is great, nice tasting menu. Think about Zuma for sushi and Asian fusion type food, it was exceptional if you love sushi- pricey but we were immediately impressed. Lavanta is a cute inexpensive place when walking around Ortakoy st. Head north of your hotel to the small fishing village of Anadolufeneri, here you can find great, fresh fish and nice to walk around. Another splurge is Sunset (seafood and fusion) with nice view or Ulus 29 for more Turkish style food with nice view. Also on Asia side Maiden's Tower restaurant or Lacivert I am wanting to try! There some upscale restaurant suggestions because great, cheap food is easy to find in most of the touristy areas like Galata or anywhere sea side. Enjoy!

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