My Restaurant Guide Part I …

So, Christmas is coming up – 7 more days!!! – and I thought it is now finally time to post the long-awaited and promised restaurant guide part I for Istanbul. I am sure it will continue to grow – hence the idea of a sequel. And very timely, a friend sent me the link below. The readers of the New York Times have chosen Istanbul as the No.1 travel destination for 2011! So, what else can I say …

I don’t know quite how to categorise the whole thing. I guess I will just start with the restaurants nearest to me (geographically) and venture out from there… I am going to use ‘$’ as an indicator for how drastic the damage will be for the different places – the more ‘$’ the bigger the damage…

A place I mentioned already in an earlier post which is wonderful for breakfast is Privato Cafe, Galip Dede Caddesi Tımarcı Sokak No:3, Galata. . Just order their Turkish breakfast and you get everything; all freshly made and prepared, the white cheese and eggs are organic, the jam homemade and the staff so very friendly. And all that for TL14.50! Tea, coffee or any fresh juices (I recommend Pomegranate/Tangerine juice!) come extra. The café is in a cute little side street off the beaten Tourist track just before Galata Tower. The owner is Turkish but speaks German and English, and if you come during the week in the morning, the whole family will have breakfast with the staff at the large table. So very sweet and homely. Just loveable the whole place!        $

Another rather charming lunch place is KaVe in the Tünel Passage The owner used to live in Vienna and brought a bit of Viennese coffeehouse culture back to Istanbul (remembering that the Turks introduced coffeehouses and coffee to Vienna in the first place!). Everyday one can choose from the lunch buffet freshly prepared food. All for TL 16, not including drinks. And sometimes they even have cheesecake, if one feels a craving for something like that…            $

Just opposite the Galata Tower is a restaurant called Galata Kiva, Galata Kulesi, Meydanı No:4, Galata . At first glance one could think it is one of those many touristy places around Galata Tower, but once one is in the know – one realises, only the locals go there, of course a few tourists find the place as well, but all in all, one always meets the neighbours when one passes the place. One can sit outside and inside. The food is Anatolian, but with a twist. The restaurant owner wants to introduce ancient Anatolian dishes to the contemporary Turkish cuisine and one can choose from a buffet or order à la card. Everything is freshly made and seasonal. Especially the deserts are very authentic.                 $

Walking down Istiklal Caddesi, one comes to a building called Misir Apartment. The top floor houses a bar and restaurant with an incredible 360 degree view over Istanbul and the Golden Horn – and that’s also the name of the restaurant… 360, Istiklal Caddesi No: 311, Misir Apt., Beyoğlu, . I was first introduced to the venue as a place for drinks and only recently had my first dinner there – and I was very pleasantly surprised. The fish was amazing, the starters varied and delicious, the wine not too bad and the atmosphere very nice with an amazing view at night over Istanbul (obviously). It all comes at quite a pricey cost, but it is worth it from time to time, especially when one has friends coming to the city for the first time.                $$$

And while we are at it, another very expensive but extremely delicious place is the restaurant Mikla at the top of Marmara Pera Hotel, Meşrutiyet Caddesi No: 15, Actually, one can also just go up to the top floor to enjoy the bar with yet another 360 degree view over Istanbul. They have – and I am not exaggerating – the best Cosmopolitans in town! I was sceptical but was taught my lesson. The restaurant is opposite the bar. Very contemporary in style. The food is very good (a celebrated chef), especially the risotto, fish and meat. However, the presentation is still in this minimalist 1980s chic style … The food is ‘arranged’ on the square plate … But despite that it is extremely good. The ice-cream is homemade too, and the chocolate one is strongly recommended! Even the selection of Turkish red wines is very good and safe to choose from. It is again a place where you can enjoy good food – but at a price.          $$$

Another place with a stunning view and strong prices is Xrestaurant, Deniz Palas, Sadi Konuralp Caddesi No: 5, Şişhane, Beyoğlu. . A celebrated Turkish interior designer did the set for the restaurant. It is located on the top floor of the Deniz Palas (Sea Palace), a most beautifully restored turn of the last century building. Sadly the interior of the restaurant does not quite live up to the exterior of the building. However, the view is fantastic and one should at least go there to enjoy a drink on the terrace. The food is not as good as at Mikla’s but comes close. The price level is about the same though. Check out the Turkish desserts!                $$$

roof top terrace of Xrestaurant bar

Walking down Istiklal Caddesi and turning into the steep street down next to the French Lycée, one comes across the Goethe Institute – and probably the most unlikely place for a restaurant. But there it is – Litera, Yeni Çarşı Caddesi No: 32, Beyoğlu, On the top floor (after security check straight into the lift and up to the 6th floor) is an almost hidden gem. A breathtaking view towards the Asian side of Istanbul and Topkapı Palas. Definitely a place to come for early evening drinks or lunch. The food is not overwhelmingly great but totally fine. Stick to the simple dishes. But the view alone is worth the lift ride to the 6th floor!                        $

One continues walking down that very same street and almost opposite from the Goethe Institute is a real gem of a restaurant – Münferit, Yeni Carşı Caddesi No: 19, Beyoğlu. (telephone: +90 212 252 50 67). They only opened in April this year. Autoban, a celebrated Istanbul interior design company, did the interior – and what can I say – it is such a wonderful place (make sure that you do not sit downstairs though), great atmosphere, the food is beyond delicious and fresh, the best wines I had in Istanbul. The Grapefruit-Vodka cocktail is to die for. Oh well … and when the bill arrives, you just close your eyes and hand over the credit card… The good thing is that you get Mikla food quality but in a different atmosphere and more of it on your plate and you pay less than at Mikla’s! So, that should make up for what you pay in the end …               $$

And continuing down that street right to the end, you will cross a busy street and arrive – in Karaköy! There is not only Istanbul Modern with a very recommendable restaurant for fabulous lunches (there is even a side entrance if you feel like skipping the museum)! Istanbul Modern Cafe, Meclisi Melusan Caddesi Antrepo No:4, . Once the weather gets warm again, one can just sit on the terrace right above the Bosphorus and enjoy the view and the cruise ships and ferries coming and going.                       $$

Further down on the right to the museum, parallel to the water you will find your way into beloved Karaköy and near the fish market is – very appropriately – a fish restaurant called Maya, Kemankeş Caddesi No: 35A . It is a young and contemporary fish restaurant. No schnickschnack just very straight forward good and fresh fish. The selection of wine is not that great – so, here is a good opportunity to drink your first Turkish raki! That’s what the locals drink with fish anyway. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.           $$

On the way back to Çukurcuma, we are now heading to a very nice and relaxed place called Cafe 49, Turnacibaşi Caddesi No: 49/A . One can just go there for tea (only until 5pm) or one of the best pizzas in town (until late). The menu includes not only food, but also furniture – vintage and new. All round a great experience.                $$ 
Another great pizza place is Miss Pizza, which is actually near me again in Şişhane, Meşrutiyet Caddesi No: 86A. The Pizza is wood oven backed, thin pastry with delicious fresh toppings. But stick to beer; the wine selection is not the greatest.            $$ 
Always on the safe side, any HOUSE Café restaurant in Istanbul is good to recommend. The young, hip and beautiful  tend to hang out there, mixed in with some business men and tourists. It is quite an establishment and one likes to be seen in there … There are two near me, one in Tünel and one on Istiklal Caddesi,359,1,1/house_cafe_eng/subeler/subeler/istiklal_caddesi .                   $$
The HOUSE chain has also opened a hotel in Nişantaşı (between the two PRADA shops).ı/nisantasi.html
The restaurant on the third floor is still a bit of a secret. Very contemporary and zen, the food is a bit overpriced for what you get (which is typical for any HOUSE product), the only really outstanding thing on the menu is the foie gras! It is the best in town and worth going there just for that – or to get away from the crowds and have a quiet glass of something.                   $$

entrance to HOUSE Hotel on the left

And if one feels like some simple, fresh straight forward fish in one of Istanbul’s former fishing villages, one should go to Takanik in Bebek, Iskele Sokak No: 3, Yeniköy Sariyer, It is authentic, cheap and delicious. A place where you will only find the locals.        $
 Banyan allows you a breathtaking view from Ortaköy over the Bosphorus. Salhanesi Sokak, Fescizade Binası No: 3/2 . A good fusion restaurant of Thai, Vietnamese and Turkish cuisine. Very relaxed atmosphere on the terrace, especially in the summer.   $$

the view from Banyan

And last but not least, I found a blog for the foodies. Check it out! Not only made about food but also about Istanbul …

And so it will continue …
4 Responses to “My Restaurant Guide Part I …”
  1. Queen Melania says:

    So much deliciousness! A gastronomic dream. When we visit in 2011 (which we clearly must, darling, because the New York Times says we must), we will be abusing this guide thoroughly. YUM YUM. Mind you, we are eating like horses at the moment. Christmas is nothing if not the celebration of food. Or the celebrration of stuffing food down oneself. Even when not hungry. Foie gras? Funny you should mention that. There’s quite a bit of foie gras waddling round the Western world at the moment.

    I have a food warning/tip. Do not eat delicious chocolate when sitting on a giant pouffe. The crumbs (and there will be crumbs) flutter delicately down to the folds of your suit and are quite the bugger to get out. My suits are covered in chocolate smears. I call it an occupational and/or seasonal hazard.

    Frolische Weilnachten! xxx

  2. MFV says:

    Where do we go first???????? Mx

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