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Istanbul restaurants

Surrey, UK
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Istanbul restaurants

As we always have people coming to the forum requesting information on good restaurants, and as the old restaurant sticky has been removed (and it was very out of date and rambling), I wanted to start a new one.

Please post with reviews/suggestions of any restaurant you have visited in the past 12 months (things change very fast in Istanbul) so we can have a good resource for people.

Please don't post anything else on here - so it can be a good sticky. If you have other restaurant questions, please start a new thread.

I will start off with my favourite Istanbul restaurant and will be back with more.

Sarnic Restaurant - Sultanahmet

We have been here many times over the past 14 years - including to celebrate our first holiday together, our engagement, our marriage and two anniversaries!! This restaurant is very special to us because it reminds us of 'life events'.

It is, I think, the most romantic setting you could imagine - that is why we keep coming back. Deep in an underground cistern behind the Aya Sofya, lit only by candlelight (and an open fire in the winter) it is a cool retreat from the summer heat but a cosy haven in the winter. It is a little like a medieval fantasy........

The food is very good with Turkish specialities (although varies as they seem to change chef frequently) - and in fact has improved in recent years - but it is the atmosphere that makes the Sarnic truly unique. We are vegetarian (and it doesn't have the best vegetarian menu - but still a good choice especially if you eat fish).

It isn't cheap - but if you don't drink alcohol (which can triple your menu) it isn't too bad and no more than other restaurants in the area.

It is behind the Ayasofya and you can find details at: www.ayasofyakonaklari.com/en/sarnic.jsp

Edited: 15 June 2010, 21:29
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Perrysburg, Ohio
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1. Re: Istanbul restaurants

What a great idea to update the Restaurant sticky, Caro!

I have several "favorites," but I'll start with ASITANE, which is located almost directly next door to Chora Church. Asitane recreates recipes from the Ottoman Palaces, and their food is absolutely wonderful. Their outdoor garden is a lovely, relaxing and peaceful place to have lunch on a hot summer day after a visit to Chora Church, and the restaurant does serve alcohol.

While there last June, my daughter and I shared a marinated veal dish (which I no longer see on their menu); chicken with apricots, almonds and grapes; and stuffed melon. Every bite was to die for, and the service was impeccable. If you're planning a visit to Chora Church, you won't go wrong dining at ASITANE. The easiest way to reach both Chora Church and ASITANE is to take a taxi.

For more info on Asitane and to see their complete menu, check out the link below:

http://www.asitanerestaurant.com/

Gocek, Turkey
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2. Re: Istanbul restaurants

I'd certainly second osumom's recommendation, having had an excellent meal there a few months ago.

There are often enquiries on the Istanbul forum from people spending a few hours in transit at Atatürk Airport and this recommendation is for them.

It's often the case that you can find yourself kicking your heels at the airport for several hours waiting for a domestic or international connection.

The first time this happened to us we were flying from Van to Dalaman and had a 5 hour stopover. Rather than endure the "international cuisine" and inflated prices, we took a taxi to nearby Yesilköy, a 10-minute ride costing about 10 lira currently and had lunch in Yüksel Balik, which is located opposite the suburb's small marina:

http://www.yukselbalik.com.tr/yuksel1.html

We had a great meal. It wasn't cheap, but neither was it grossly expensive and was probably no more than something much less interesting that we would have eaten in Atatürk.

e've done the same thing a couple more times since. Sitting on the terrace in the sunshine looking over to the marina is a great way to pass the time. Last January en route to London it was pouring with rain, but we still sat out on the heated terrace - where we were able to smoke!

Good food (the website shows current prices - you can choose your fish and it will be priced by weight), attentive service and they'll call up a taxi for you to return to the airport.

Istanbul
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3. Re: Istanbul restaurants

Hi folks,

Ciya Sofrasi restaurant is very well known by forum members. It is a great restaurant that serves highly specialized dishes mostly from South Eastern and Eastern Anatolia. These dishes are really authentic and most can not be found at other restaurants. "http://www.ciya.com.tr/index_en.php". This restaurant is located at Kadikoy (the Asian side) where I live. I visit this restaurant about 4-5 times a year and fully enjoy the culinary delights they offer to their customers. Their menu changes every day (very unusual for a restaurant) and they have a small printed daily menu in English that briefly describes the days offerings. Make sure you ask for it if you are not readily offered that. Here's the menu of June 16 (today): "http://www.ciya.com.tr/index_en.php?menu".

I had written a review about one of my visits previously and here it is:

"Today is a great day and I went to Kadikoy Carsi area (behind the balloon and the pier) for shopping, mostly for books. BTW the largest bookstore in Istanbul (sort of like a regular Barnes and Noble) is right there in Kadikoy where it used to be a Migros store. This bookstore is called ALKIM. I shopped there for some travel books. However the highlight of Kadikoy trip was a magnificent lunch at Ciya Sofrasi. Now here is the link so I will describe you what I had for lunch from the menu:

http://www.ciya.com.tr/index_en.php?menu

I had "Ayvac Dizmec" which is Quince, knife ground beef, tomato sauce, black pepper and it is from the Diyarbakir (South East) region of Turkey. The knife ground beef was in form of finger long meatballs and I would never imagine that there would be a dish of meatballs with quince. Simply very yummy. In fact it was so delicious that I ordered the Tikliye that I also had my eyes on. It is made of Bulgur, Ground Lean Lamb, Chickpeas, Strained Yogurt, and Mint. It was just out of this world. This dish is again from Nizip(G.Antep) area (SEastern Turkey). On top of these fantastic main courses I had to have a unique desert. And I chose Teleme-Incir Dondurmasi, a unique ice cream made of milk and dried figs, this one from Samsun Bafra area of the Black Sea coast. You can click on the names of these dishes on the menu to see their pictures. Not to destroy the gurme taste of these dishes in my mouth I just drank water with them. For all of that 30 YTL or 16 Euros is a very reasonable price.

The owner, Musa bey, was in Ankara so I missed a chat with him. However I had a nice chat with the waiters about the operations. Actually Ciya restaurants are three seperate buildings, two right next to each other and one accross from the two. One is a kebap restaurant and the other two have their unique dishes. Incredible selection. You see what you are going get and it is not a fancy place, typically middle class Turkish. The uniqueness of this restaurant comes from the variety and great taste of dishes each from a different region of Turkey.

For a great typical Turkish lunch or dinner, make sure to pay a visit to Ciya Sofrasi".

Ciya Sofrasi is located at the market area of Kadikoy, 5 minutes walk to the pier. Click on the map for enlargement at the following link: "http://www.ciya.com.tr/index_en.php?contact". You can take a ferry to Kadikoy from Eminonu or Karakoy anytime, for a wonderful 20 minute ferry ride. Here's further reference to Ciya Sofrasi, including posts by some of our forum members: "http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/604029?tag=boards;topic-604029".

enigma...

Edited: 16 June 2010, 09:19
Gocek, Turkey
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4. Re: Istanbul restaurants

Although there is irrefutable evidence that Ciya does not always supply an English menu.

Moving closer to the regular tourist stamping grounds, an addition to the Sultanahmet restaurants during 2009 was Dubb Ethnic, a sister restaurant of Dubb Indian.

http://www.dubbindian.com/ethnic/ethnic.html

Wandering around the backstreets of Sultanahmet last October, we cam across this restaurant in the late afternoon. The manage came out to speak to us and it turned out that he had previously worked in a Turkish-owned restaurant jus around the corner from our London house.

Spending little time in the UK, I do miss Indian food, so we decided to pay it a visit that night.

Dubb Ethnic is in a lovely old restored house and is very prettily decorated. The kitchen is on the street level and you actually have to access a flight of metal stairs to get into theraised ground floor, and then there is another dining room on the top floor (which I believe is often used by the owner for his private entertainment).

As I recall the menu was supposed to cover dishes from the old Silk Road - with lots of Asian noodle dishes and curries. The portions were really generous and we ordered far too much food! We had a delicious chicken peshawari (marinaded in spices and yoghourt and in a tomato sauce I seem to recall) and a curried mutton dish, as well as some okra – but this was a vegetarian main course dish and so an enormous portion – luckily we had forgone any starters!!

All the food was delicous and attractively presented, the mains cost more or less 26 TL each and with 2 large beers it cost us 100 TL including tip.

A couple from Sri Lanka were also eating there and were equally enthusiastic about the food. It even has a French seal of approval:

tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g293974-…

Perrysburg, Ohio
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5. Re: Istanbul restaurants

When you're staying in Sultanahmet or Sirkeci, sometimes you just don't feel like venturing out of the area for dinner... but you still want to enjoy a really good meal. IMBAT Restaurant, located on the terrace of the Orient Express Hotel, is a lovely place to dine when you're in that frame of mind. IMBAT is a reasonably priced restaurant located at Hudavendigar Street No: 34 in Sirkeci. The food is delicious, the views from the terrace are lovely, and the service is excellent.

Myself, my daughter and two friends had a fantastic meal at IMBAT last June. One of our starters was a baked shrimp casserole, and it was hands down the best shrimp casserole we've ever had. My friend and her husband liked it so much they both ordered it again as their main course. Between the five of us, we sampled a wide variety of the dishes served at IMBAT, and each one was delicious.

While the Sultanahmet/Sirkeci area may not be renowned for its great restaurants, there are definitely some places there where you can dine without being disappointed. IMBAT is one of those places.

For more info on IMBAT and to check out their menu, see the link below:

http://www.imbatrestaurant.com/

Surrey, UK
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6. Re: Istanbul restaurants

If you are staying in Sultanahmet, you are bound to find yourself on Akbiyik Cad, looking for a meal!

There is a huge choice here - but my favourite is Kathisma Albura.

The service has always been excellent when we have been there - and we have eaten many vegetarian or fish dishes on their menu and found them all to be well prepared and very enjoyable. Their monk fish is excellent! I love either sitting in their old building (which has a great atmosphere) - or outside when it is warm enough. They have a new tent like extension - which I do not like the look of so much - and so have never eaten in that bit!

Make sure you ask your waiter to let you see the palace ruins that are behind and underneath the restaurant!

http://www.alburakathisma.com

Perrysburg, Ohio
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7. Re: Istanbul restaurants

I have to add another recommendation, this time for GRISSINI Restaurant in Nisantasi. (There are soooo many good restaurants in Istanbul!)

GRISSINI was recommended to me by Istanbul DE Kozano, and it's the perfect place for a leisurely lunch, afternoon drinks/tea/dessert, or even dinner after a fun day of shopping in Nisantasi. Grissini's has an indoor section, a shaded street-side patio out front, and an absolutely lovely enclosed outdoor garden in the back. We chose to sit in the outdoor garden, and it was the perfect place to take a break from shopping on a hot summer afternoon. They have a wonderful Italian menu that includes pizza made in a brick oven that’s absolutely delicious. I also ordered their profiteroles, and couldn’t believe the size of the serving…four profiteroles with vanilla ice cream smothered in chocolate sauce! They were fabulous (and, of course, I shared!) I don't remember what the others in my party ordered, but I do remember a lot of groans of satisfaction! Grissini’s is definitely not a budget restaurant, but it’s definitely money well spent. I can’t wait to have a full dinner there, as their entire menu looked wonderful...as did all the aromatic dishes being whisked to other tables!

For more info on GRISSINI's, check out the following link:

www.istanbulrestaurants.com/detail.php…

New York
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8. Re: Istanbul restaurants

I recommend the three restaurants at which we at on June 12 to June 14, 2010. We ate lunch in the Sultanhamet at Khorsani, which has both indoor and outdoor tables. The food was quite good, and it serves kebabs as well as other dishes, We were served a fabulous huge loaf of bread with our mezzes. It has a menu in English. It is next to the restaurant Adonin, which is recommended in the DK guide, and we ate there as well. I recommend them both.

We also ate on the other side of the Golden Horn at Zeyrekhane, which has a spectacular view high on a hill overlooking the city and the Golden Horn. Our guide took us there for a wonderful lunch. It has traditional Turkish food, and you will wind up ordering twice as much as you can eat as the portions are huge. There is a review here although it is not the restaurant's own website which is in Turkish:

www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do…

Istanbul
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9. Re: Istanbul restaurants

Martin, Ciya Sofrasi does not serve any alcohol. However, all restaurants across Ciya Sofrasi do serve beer and wine, and you can get your pre meal or after meal drinks in those places.

enigma...

jaipur
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10. Re: Istanbul restaurants

Hi, Just back from Istanbul. We ate mostly at the little eateries lining the street on Divan Yolu Caddesi near the tram station. The Cozy pub, Petrol restaurant,and Faros served decent grilled chicken,shish kebap, grilled fish etc We paid about 20 to 30 TL per person. Barans was ok if were in a hurry since we just point to the dishes and they fill up our plates and serve immediately.. Generally we had leisurely meals combined with people watching. Plus point they had menus in English.Desserts- had from the adjacent sweet shop or Dondurmasi from across the street..

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