It's traditional in Istanbul to head for a restaurant on the Bosphorus when you want a fish dinner, but in recent years the Istanbul restaurant scene has changed. It's now quite possible to order excellent seafood almost anywhere in the city.
There are still many good restaurants on the Bosphorus—particularly lavish luxury places—but the growth of the city and its traffic problems make it less easy to whiz up the Bosphorus for a meal. Still, you will want to consider these getaways:
The market area in Beşiktaş, just north of Dolmabahçe Palace, has a lively restaurant scene and a few good fish restaurants clustered near the fish market. More...
The imperial park of Yıldız Palace has three small café-restaurants good for a getaway to Bosphorus greenery. More...
The artsy boutique district around the landmark Mecidiye (Ortaköy) Mosque is known for its cafés and tea houses, but it also has a selection of good full restaurants. More...
This upscale neighborhood at the foot of the hill holding Rumei Hisarı fortress and Bosphorus University is known for its selection of restaurants.
On a promontory overlooking the Bosphorus, the Khedive (king) of Egypt built a sumptuous Art Nouveau villa for his summer visits to Constantinople. Now known as the Hıdiv Kasrı (Khedive's Villa), it is a city-operated tea garden and restaurant: fine gardens, good food, lots of Turkish families, and no alcoholic beverages served.
This town on the European shore of the Bosphorus near the Black Sea is known for its fish market and seafood restaurants, some right on the shore. It's a great place to stop for a fish lunch during your day-long Bosphorus cruise. More...
This village near the northern end of the Bosphorus's European shore road is 25 km (16 miles, 1 hour) north of Taksim Square through Istanbul traffic—not a happy prospect, so it's best visited as part of a Bosphorus cruise. Balıkçı Kahraman is perhaps the best-known seafood restaurant here, and worth the fairly high prices.
The last stop on the day-long Şehir Hatları Bosphorus cruise, Anadolu Kavağı, on the Asian shore near the Black Sea, is crowded with small seafood restaurants for Bosphorus cruise passengers who must wait here three hours for the return cruise departure to the city center.
—by Tom Brosnahan