Between Asia and Europe lies the Bosphorus Strait, the gateway to Istanbul, Turkey’s most populated and largest city. A wide array of dining options abound, from the international cuisine at the higher-end hotels to the native cuisine featured at the numerous Turkish cafeteria-style bistros called lokantas. Kebabs, one of the staples in Turkish cuisine, are available throughout the city, with meat (frequently lamb) being used most commonly.
Lamb, whether it is cut into chunks or ground up, is also served stuffed into pita bread. Grains, seafood, and vegetables are very prevalent in most Turkish cuisine, with fresh fish often grilled with lemon and olive oil being the most common entree. Garlic, cumin, oregano, sage and yogurt are used on a regular basis, giving Turkish cuisine a flavor that separates from the other menus globally. And no dessert could be complete without baklava or phyllo pastry with its chopped nuts and honey, or one of the many puddings and rice dishes.
Istanbul is literally loaded with fine dining establishments, from the extremely casual to the black-tie affairs. Though there is a wide array of cuisine choices, the following is a list of the 8 most commonly recommended restaurants in Istanbul:
- Kiyi Restaurant – one of the higher-end restaurants but a great place for a fresh seafood meal with all the trimmings
- Hacı Baba Restoran – a terrace-style restaurant that features authentic and excellent Turkish cuisine with nice ambiance and amenities. Additionally, the establishment is renowned for its hors-d’oeuvres, a very tender kebab, and an extensive wine list.
- Hamdi – a mid-range priced restaurant that is renowned as one of Istanbul’s best kebab houses. You’ll want to be sure and make reservations if you plan to eat here.
- Beyti Kebab – a high-end restaurant that features one of the finest kebab selections in Istanbul (and most of Turkey for that matter).
- Pescatore – though it is located a little bit further up the Bosporus, you can find fresh fish of the season and shellfish at this dining establishment which is caught in the Gulf of Saros near the Dardanelles.
- Pandeli – After exploring the local bazaar, you can relax here and enjoy gourmet refreshment surrounded by adequate ambiance. To the left of the spice bazaar entrance is the restaurant’s original location that was founded by Chef Pandeli, the famous Greek chef, in 1956.
- Koço – the oldest seafood restaurant on the Asian side of Istanbul, Koço features the tastiest seafood at the Cape Moda tip. There is a panoramic view (from the restaurant’s terrace) of Fenerbahçe, the yachting port.
- Façyo – an excellent seafood restaurant located in the Bay of Tarabya, it is one of the best and oldest seafood restaurants in the Istanbul. Its location is a bit north of the Bosporus in the Bay of Tarabya.
Top 5 hotels in Istanbul, Turkey
- Apex Hotel – 3-star hotel in Sultanahmet – budget double room from €30,00/night
- Hotellino – hotel in Serraglio – double room from €49,00/night
- Hotel Gülhane Park – 4-star hotel in Serraglio – double room from €57,00/night
- Aruna Hotel – 4-star hotel in Sultanahmet- deluxe double room with free breakfast from €45,00/night
- Hotel Alzer – 4-star hotel in Sultanahmet – double room from €60,00/night
Photo of Mezes (Turkish small dishes or appetizers) by gotesan.