Where east meets west, and where the Mediterranean meets the Black Sea – you’d expect Istanbul to be a melting pot of different cultures and cuisines. But you might not be expecting such an array of choice. From kebab bars to upmarket hotels, from taverns to world-class restaurants, you’ll find it all here.
Istanbul is all about the Bosphorus, so what better place to eat than on the strait itself? Located on a boat next to the medieval fortress, Iskele’s tables have stunning views of the water, and mouthwatering tastes of the sea. With course after course, meals can stretch through the afternoon. So take your time and enjoy the view.
Yahya Kemal Cad. No:1 Rumeli Hisarı Sarıye
This is the place to come and eat tavern-style. Or as they call it in Istanbul, "meyhane". Pay one set price and they’ll bring everything to you, course by course, from the meze through to the fish starters and then mains. All mouthwatering, and all included in the price. Choose to wash it down with house wine or beer, or go a la carte.
Keresteci Hakki Sokaka, Ahirkapi.
If location is an important ingredient in your perfect meal, you’ll want to venture out to Asitane. Featuring a lovely courtyard garden, the restaurant looks out onto the majestic Kariye Museum. The menu is filled with traditional Turkish dishes, including lamb and meze.
Kariye Camii Sokak 18, Edirne Kapi.
Istanbul restaurants all have something special about them. And it’s obvious what’s special at Mikla. Located on the rooftop of the upmarket Marmara Pera hotel, the restaurant gives you a bird’s eye view of the city stretched out below. The food is just as impressive, with a unique fusion of Turkish and Scandinavian fare.
The Marmara Pera Meşrutiyet Caddesi 15 34430, Beyoğlu
5) Meze by Lemon Tree
As the name suggests, this is the place to come for meze, or Turkish tapas. Seafood and vegetable meze are a speciality. Or why not opt for the tasting menu, with 5 different cold meze to share? The room may be tiny, but the tastes are big and the service excellent.
Mesrutiyet Caddesi, 83/B, Beyoglu.
We included this one if you were looking for a place to hang out as much as dine out. There’s a lively atmosphere, with room after room going back into the depths of the restaurant. Come through all the way to the end for the food, where you can sit at the main bar and try the meze. But you might get waylaid at the dance floor or the cocktail bar before you sit down to eat.
Hayriye Caddesi 46, Beyoglu.
The architecture is Art Nouveau, the cocktails are classy and upmarket, and the food is out of this world. Changa is one of Istanbul’s more elegant restaurants, offering a sumptuous mix of Ottoman and eastern flavours. Changa is only open for dinner, but it’s worth splashing out for just one night while you’re here.
Siraselviler Caddesi 47, Taksim.
If you’re looking for a place to grab some lunch, Pandeli is the ideal spot. It looks like you’d imagine how every Istanbul restaurant should be, with blue and white tiles, domes, and an entrance right next to the Spice Bazaar. No wonder it’s such a hit with the tourists. There are plenty of classic Ottoman dishes on the menu, but you might have to wait for a table.
Misir Carsisi 1, Eminonu.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth you’ll already know about baklava and other Istanbul sweets. But you might not know that there are restaurants devoted just to sweets and desserts, and this is one of them. From rice puddings to milky sweets, Saray is the place to come for your sugar fix, Turkish style.
Istiklal Cad 102-104, Beyoglu.
We thought we’d end on a high note. Giuseppe Cipriani was the founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, and went on to build a suite of world-class hotels and restaurants in key locations across the world. So come to the Cipriani Istanbul for some opulence – and don’t forget to order yourself a Bellini Cocktail.
Levent Mah Buukdere Cad. N.2 Kat 1, Besiktas.