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Apr 20, 2012 07:18 AM

Istanbul - Proposed Itinerary - Input Please!

I've been pouring over the boards in preparation for our upcoming trip to Istanbul. I will be traveling with my husband and our two children, ages five and seven. They are adventurous eaters and dine out frequently, but I'd still like to make sure our choices are fitting. Here is what I have so far. Would love input - what would you add/change/skip? Any foodie/not to miss spots for sweets or Turkish coffee?

Thanks 'hounds!

Friday - arrive
lunch - Galata bridge fish sandwich?
dinner - Sultanhamet Fish House (near hotel) or Antiocha or Mikla (too formal/fancy with the kids?)

lunch - at Grand Bazaar - Kara Mehmet Kebab, Burç Ocakbasi or Havuzlu?
dinner - take ferry to Ciya Sofrasi

lunch - open to ideas (might do a Bosphorus cruise?)
dinner - Kebab Crawl with Istanbul Eats!

depart Monday mid-day - any spectacular place for breakfast?

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  1. Fish sandwiches can be nice but it's nothing spectacular. Almost as a rule, the fish is frozen and imported from Norway. Why not hit Seyzade for cag kebab on Hocapasa sokak if you are thinking of a lunch in that general area?Or cross the brings and find Mumhane Caddesi for a tantuni in Karakoy? Or take the opportunity to wander through the very atmospheric hardware market of the Persembe Pazari landing at either Tarihi Karakoy Balikcisi or Mutfak Dili for lunch?
    I don't know Sultanahmet Fish House but I think Mikla would be a bit too formal with the kids, depending on their age and tendencies. Antiochia would be comfortable with them but the family atmosphere that is so nice for dining with kids in Istanbul gets a little weak in places that serve alcohol. I've had great family meals- dry ones of course- in slightly more traditional places like Akdeniz Hatay Sofrasi where the food is good and the theatrics high. There are usually large families eating together and the staff is very good with kids.
    You'll do fine in the grand bazaar at Kara Mehmet or Burc (particularly if it is dolma day) but I prefer Seyhmus Kebabi just outside the bazaar.
    The Bosphorus cruise is a good idea but I have yet to identify a real standout place to eat in Anadolu Kavagi, where it breaks.
    As for the Kebab Krawl, well, I'm sure that will be fun.


    1. Antiochia did not strike me as a family place. It is aimed at young hip couples, it's quite loud and there is no place to run around. And I had not such a good experience - the food was good but the service was really hurried and uninterested once they found out we'd not buy their overpriced wine. I preferred Meze by far and Zabayir by a little bit. If I take only food in the account, I'd still say that Meze was far far better and Zabayir was about equal, maybe a little bit worse than Antiochia.

      Try to add some family restaurants as per Antman's suggestions, and if you are going in the summer, the gardens are a must. The kids will have a great time running around there while you enjoy your food in peace. One thing that I love about Istanbul are the gardens and parks full of families and kids playing together, as if free from this car / abuse / kidnap anxiety driven parents of the Western world.

      Most of the kids I know enjoy bread more than anything else - try to stop at a few bakeries here and there. They'll be happy with their extra carbs :-)

      1. + 1 on fish sandwich to antman: take your kids for Turkish style pizza to Mavi Halic Pidecisi in Eminonu very close to the Galata bridge. The pizza maker invites kids to play with the flour and dough: when I have children on my walks we leave them there for a day. Joking but kids love that place.

        + 1 on Antiochia to sasicka: they have a very limited space as the outside seating in the area has been banned so you will not be comfortable there with your young ones. As a suggestion for fish dinner is Giritli in Cankurtaran: they have a wonderful garden where kids can ran, watch fresh bread being baked in the stone oven and tease the cats. Reservation is a must!

        I love Namli Karakoy for breakfast: highest quality typical Turkish breakfast fare. They would be quiet on Monday morning and they are also very kids-friendly as locals will bring theirs.

        Happy eating in Istanbul!


        1. I wanted to post with a bit of a trip report as we just returned from Istanbul. Thank you for all of the suggestions and ideas. We had an amazing trip. Everyone doted on the kids left and right and we all had a fabulous time.

          We did end up eating at Antiocha and they were not only accommodating with the kids, but gracious. The food was delicious - the meze, the meats and we had probably the best Turkish Coffee of our trip.

          On Saturday, we ate in the bazaar at Kara Mehmet for lunch. It was lovely to sit outside and eat and we had quite a feast. Everything was fresh and hot and perfect. Saturday night we ate at Lokanta Maya. It was a bit more upscale in feel, but we had a fun time nonetheless. My son gobbled up my sea bass and my daughter made quick work of the lamb. It was on the pricier side, but we enjoyed a nice evening out.

          Sunday we went on a bit of a wild goose chase to find Giritli (wrong spot according to Google) but we found it and were so glad we did. It was quite empty for lunch, but the staff were so gracious with the kids. It was indeed a beautiful garden and the meze selection vast! As the bread came out, I pointed over to the kids about where the baker was baking it and next thing I knew the kids were over there and getting to bake their own bread. Because it wasn't busy, the baker let them help and they had a blast. The food was fresh, bright and made for a perfect afternoon sitting outside and enjoying the setting, the food and white wine.

          Sunday night we did the Kebab Crawl and it was a lot of fun. Our guide painted quite a flowery picture of the various establishments and characters we'd meet and the kids enjoyed being fawned over and doted on. Football was the order of the evening and by the time we made it to our last stop for dessert my son was a Fenerbaci fan and was high fiving the staff over the replays. We definitely tasted some unique things we wouldn't have tried otherwise, but I will say that I think we enjoyed some of our other Kebab food just as much. All in all, well worth doing.

          Thank you again 'hounds for helping us plan our trip! Oh, we also really enjoyed the various sweets at Hafiz Mustafa as you come back to the Sultanhamet side from the Galata Bridge. The ice cream vendor next door was also a hoot with his antics and had the kids in stitches.