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Aug 10, 2012 11:23 AM

Help with Restaurant Choices in Istanbul - Check my list please

My husband and i will be ending our 12 day trip to Turkey with 5 nights in Istanbul. We love fine dining and my plan is to eat casual during the day but try to find some top/fine dining for the evenings. And great views/venues as well. I have been doing some research but could use some help. Here is what I have so far:

Lokanata Maya
and possibly La Mouette
Or Meze by Lemon Tree?
Or Hanedan?

But I was thinking that perhaps we should have add a good basic seafood restaurant to this list?

I would love suggestions as well as ideas for lunches. So far we know that we want to eat at Ciya Sofrasi.

Thank you all in advance,

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  1. Hi Susan,

    You are going to LOVE Istanbul. I think you've made some good choices there - Mikla and Changa/Muzdechanga in particular are both very special.

    Regarding lunch places - Ciya is amazing. It's actually 3 restaurants - one selling traditional Turkish homecooking from around the country, a kebab place (the dough-wrapped kebabs and pistachio-lamb kebabs are AMAZING!) and a kind of bakery with wonderful lahmacun (Turkish lamb pizzas). You could easily to go all three.

    Other places I'd recommend are Çukur Meyhanesi, Kartal sok. 1/A, Beyoglu, - a traditional 'meyhane' which kind of means tavern but that shouldn't put you off. They have delicious grilled black sea anchovies (Hamsi), fresh cheese, poppyseed and purslane spread, and other hard to find, super-fresh Turkish food.

    If you want something a bit lighter and more modern, there's a lovely place called Limonlu Bahçe, which is a lovely cafe in a big lemon garden (how the cafe gets its name) where you can have a nice lunch under the shady trees. Its a bit fashionable but nice to see the modern side of Istanbul.

    If you aren't counting calories, I'd recommend getting up for breakfast at least once and going here for a traditional Turkish breakfast of bread, clotted cream (Kaymak in Turkish) and honeycomb. It costs peanuts, and if you are from N. America where clotted cream doesn't seem to exist, you'll find this an amazing treat. Hasan Fehmi Özsüt - Yemişçi Hasan Sk. No: 9/1, Karaköy

    For fish places - I'd check out this recent posting on the blog Istanbul Eats. The guys who run the blog are very reliable for Istanbul recommendations. Check out their other listings for things like Kurdish Barbecue if you aren't afraid to wander a bit off the beaten path.

    Happy eating!

    5 Replies
    1. re: jenlemon

      Hi Jenlemon,
      Thanks for all of the information. Lots of good recommendations. Grilled black sea anchovies sound amazing!

      I have spent a lot of time on istanbuleats website - lots of good reviews and information. And my husband loves a good breakfast so we definitely have to get up for at least one.

      So where do you think I should pick for my fifth dinner? Still undecided.


      1. re: Susan56

        I would definitelly go to Meze by Lemon Tree. It was amazing, my best experience in Istanbul. You can get good fish and seafood everywhere so I wouldn't bother about a special seafood place. Or if you really want to, look at the Istanbul Eats, there are some wonderful ideas there. Also, they have good ideas for lunch near the most touristic spots which are generally poor on good food.

        1. re: sasicka

          Thanks sasicka,
          I looked into Meze by Lemon Tree and it looks amazing. So now the only problem is that I have 5 nights in Istanbul and 6 restaurants! All of which sound amazing. I am thinking that I might cut La Mouette. While it sounds great I did not find many reviews.

          So that would leave me with:

          Lokanta Maya
          and Meze by Lemon Tree

          Sound good?

          1. re: Susan56

            I am going in September. Will you plase report back? Dying to hear about your culinary experiences. Thanks.

            1. re: Susan56

              Yes, please report back. We're also heading to Istanbul in the future and would love to hear. And thanks to others for the recs.

      2. I am also going in September. I have reservations at Ulus 29, Park Samdan, and X.
        These are three recommended places by locals but I think they are on the over fashionable side. I am hoping to try some traditional places as well so your list looks great. Please do post and I will do the same.

        1. Okay, now don't laugh! I just got Steve Raichlen's new book, Planet Barbeque, where he literally goes all over the world and has recipes (and prose) from everywhere. For Turkey, as well, as particular dishes that he recommends, he also specifically mentions a few restos. I'll list them and see what others think, if anything.

          Kosebasi - chain with upscale BBQ
          Hamdi - grilling with great views of the Bosporus
          Beyti - near the airport (?)
          Mabeyin - occupies a former Ottoman country palace
          Zibeyir - intimate, casual Kurdish-style grilling, in the Beyoglu district

          1 Reply
          1. re: c oliver

            I promise to report back after our trip. We leave very soon. Due to some restaurant closures (remodeling?) we are set with the following for dinners in Istanbul:

            Lokanta Maya
            Meze by Lemon Tree
            La Mouette

            We are really looking forward to this trip - but while I am here - any suggestions for Goreme or Selcuk?