Four days in Istanbul

Comments and recommendations for Istanbul restaurants

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otnemem
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Four days in Istanbul

Post by otnemem » Thu Apr 06, 2006 9:58 am

I will have four days in Istanbul in August, and I want to sample the very best of Turkish cuisine. A nice mix of meat and seafood is what I am looking for. Definitely nice places to eat for dinner, and a mix of holes-in-the-wall and nice places to eat for lunch. Budget is not a problem, it will be my honeymoon, so I am willing to shell out. Would welcome any and all suggestions.


steve
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Post by steve » Thu Apr 06, 2006 6:23 pm

Sarnic (cistern-based eatery) looks quite impressive but is actually quite ordinary. The food is average and the bill expensive.
Beyti is good if you want a good meal in flamboyant surroundings (actually very good value). It is in florya which is about 30 mins drive drom the centre. Most taxis will wait for you outside and ecen if you add on that cost, it's cheaper than Sarnic.

halliep
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Post by halliep » Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:02 pm

These are the places we ate at and enjoyed, some for the food, some just for the atmosphere.

Hamdi - on a rooftop overlooking the Galata Bridge. Great service and the food is not WOW but good, with the exception of the spinach yoghurt dip which was definitely in the WOW category. The view is very very nice, so I vote this one on atmosphere. About 10TYL for a kebap. Sort of pricey for what you get.

Cafe Mesale - attached to the Arasta Bazaar behind the Blue Mosque. Here you can sit outside and enjoy a few mezes (their gozleme is great) while drinking tea and playing backgammon. The seats on the perimeter are actually sofas which is nice and cozy for a honeymooning couple. You can have nargileh here, too, which I wish I had tried. Good any time of day.

Köftecisi & Selim Usta (1920) - here's your hole-in-the-wall. We LOVED this place! It's at the base of Divan Yolu in Sultanahmet, you can't miss it. It reminded me of an old Chicago institution where the waiters wear white jackets and the busboys wear blue. They've been in business for decades with only four things on the menu - kofte, lamb shish, rice pilav and salad. You just tell them how many of each you want - and they're utterly devine. We were the only Americans in the joint, the rest were Turkish businessmen in suits (we went for lunch). They're very streamlined, shuttling people in and out with swift efficiency, and you may be seated at the same table with total strangers but that's half the fun. Highly recommended, both for food quality and atmosphere.

Albura - near the Empress Zoe hotel (ask for directions). Some of the dishes here come out fully ablaze. It's very kitschy and borderline impressive. One dish came in a flaming pot which they extinguished then hacked open and poured out a delicious-looking stew. The waiter heard me lamenting that my dish would not arrive on fire and he created a small dish of foil with volatile material inside and set it alight for my dining pleasure. Nice gesture. The food was good. I had a lamb stew on aubergine puree that I would eat again if given the chance. Atmosphere is nice, too.

sü börek - this isn't a place, but a food item (I think I spelled it correctly but I'm not sure - hopefully Tom or Sinan can correct me). There are little niches all over town that sell both sweet and savory börek. This one is the former. Layers of pastry softened with a sweet, syrupy sauce and dusted with powdered sugar. We bought a bag full before hopping on the ferry and it was so good we dove into it like church ladies at the weekly pot-luck - and my husband is so carb-o-phobic he won't even touch carrots so that's saying something. I'd suggest one day taking a break and enjoying some sü börek with tea. You'll remember it always.

the cafes along Istiklal Caddesi - the point-and-order cafes (there are a half dozen or so from which to choose) are a fun way to try different dishes. They are all on display in the window and you order them cafeteria style. It's not very expensive at all and the benefit is that you can order what looks good to you. The downside is you don't know what you're ordering so it's hard to find it again in a sit-down restaurant or to recommend it to others.

Efes beer - nothing special about it really, tastes like your basic pilsner. But in August a nice cold Efes at a sidewalk cafe with a crisp mixed salad is going to taste really good.

I'm envious that you're going to Istanbul on honeymoon. We went to the Carribbean and hated it. If we had it to do over again I think that Istanbul would be my top pick. You won't believe how romantic it can be.

suppiluliuma
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Post by suppiluliuma » Tue Apr 11, 2006 3:40 pm

"Su börek" you defined sounds like "Kürt Böreği" (Kurdish Börek) The su böreği (water börek) is not sweet, and never sweetened by powder sugar. There are chese with parsley among the pastry layers. If there's nothing among the layers and the outer layer cracky roasted, and if you pour powder suger on it, it's a Kürt böreği. We have plenty of böreks and I'm afraid you missed most of them :wink:
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halliep
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Post by halliep » Tue Apr 11, 2006 5:12 pm

I missed so much - more than just the börek! There was just so little time. But thanks for clarifying the name of the treat we enjoyed. I can taste it again, just thinking about it.

kjana
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Re: Four days in Istanbul

Post by kjana » Sat Apr 29, 2006 5:16 am

[quote="otnemem"]I will have four days in Istanbul in August, and I want to sample the very best of Turkish cuisine. A nice mix of meat and seafood is what I am looking for. Definitely nice places to eat for dinner, and a mix of holes-in-the-wall and nice places to eat for lunch. Budget is not a problem, it will be my honeymoon, so I am willing to shell out. Would welcome any and all suggestions.[/quote]

Fabulous place for dinner: "Hunkar" in Nisantasi (near Taksim). Well known chef who will guide you through your meal, no tourists, absolutely delicious. We also liked Hamdi near the Spice Bazaar (good for lunch or dinner). And for hole-in-the-wall: Doy Doy in Sultanahmet (very good food, inexpensive, and full of locals, etc.)


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