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The one must eat restaurant in Istanbul

divot Apr 30, 2013 08:50 AM

I'm going to Istanbul in a few weeks and was wondering what is the one restaurant that I should try to eat at? It doesn't necessarily have to be high end, I'll probably try a mix of low price (but hopefully great) and higher end places.

Any thoughts?

  1. b
    BritInDC May 1, 2013 04:37 AM

    We went a few weeks ago and I have a few places to recommend...

    Ciya, on the Asian side, is great. Really worth trying, different from restaurants on the European side. You start with a salad bar (pay by weight) and then mains are different each day. I would suggest going for lunch as the last ferry back to the European side was around 8pm.

    Hamdis, by the spice market was also great. Eat on the top floor if you can, the view is amazing. Great mezze and kebabs.

    We also had dinner one night down by the Bosphorus, just a random place with tables out by the water, where they grilled fish and bought salad and bread. No licence so no alcohol but not expensive at all!

    5 Replies
    1. re: BritInDC
      c oliver May 8, 2013 05:25 PM

      I didn't know that about the ferry so thanks a bunch. We'll do lunch. I was under the impression that there setup was that you went up to where all different pots of things are cooking and tell them what you want. Perhaps they've changed that? Could you elaborate a bit please? TIA.

      1. re: c oliver
        BritInDC May 13, 2013 07:06 AM

        No, still the same! The salad bar you just help yourself to, and then they weigh it. The mains are the part that you point to. They cook different things each day, and you go and have a look at all the pots, and they explain what everything is. You just point to what you want and they bring it to you. The food was great!

        1. re: BritInDC
          c oliver May 13, 2013 07:52 AM

          Thanks. Neither of us are huge salad people plus I tend to fill up on that and then don't do justice to mains so will skip.

          1. re: c oliver
            BritInDC May 14, 2013 04:07 AM

            You could skip the salad bar and go straight to the mains I'm sure. The mains were amazing, and I'd highly recommend. The salad bar was quite mezze focused, and I love mezze so that was perfect. But you wouldn't be compelled to eat it!

            1. re: BritInDC
              c oliver May 14, 2013 07:38 AM

              I intend to have plenty of mezzes but probably not there.

    2. Matt H May 1, 2013 04:54 AM

      The two places I personally would not miss when I return to Istanbul are Ciya and Abracadabra. Have had incredible meals at both.

      Also while I have not been the former chef at Abracadabra has moved onto another place named Dati Maya. Judging from her talented showing at Abracadabra I would also add this to at least my list to research.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Matt H
        c oliver May 8, 2013 05:37 PM

        Appears to be DatLi Maya. Here's a writeup from 11/11. Sounds like quite the place.


        1. re: Matt H
          Foodie_Phil May 13, 2013 04:13 PM

          From what I have read, Abracadabra was closed awhile ago. The former chef focuses her attention on the casual and more simple food of her place Datli Maya. It appears a wood burning oven is the key to many of the simple dishes like lahmacun and pide. Stews were also on the menu.

        2. c oliver May 13, 2013 08:00 AM

          Here's a thread of mine from a while back which you may or may not have seen:


          Didn't have time enough in Istanbul on our Turkey tour to scratch the surface but we did go to the kofte place he recommends. Exiting H. Sofia. it's just across the street to the right. Just a bare bones place but really good. No alcohol but Coke is ubiquitous there it seems. Didn't find manti but found out later that it's mainly a lunch dish. The TAVUK GÖGÜSÜ is amazing and you'd never guess what's in it. And, yes, it's dessert not a savory dish. Had doner which you can hardly walk down any street in Turkey and not trip over. Good quick and cheap. Pomegranites and their juice is everywhere. Picture attached.

          We're going back in a little over a month so if you have a chance to report back, I'd love to hear YOUR recs. I know you'll have a great time.

          1 Reply
          1. re: c oliver
            c oliver May 13, 2013 04:28 PM

            oops,forgot the photo.

          2. c oliver May 18, 2013 11:31 AM

            A CH-friend turned me on to this link/blog. The places she mentions all sound great.


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