An olive's toss from all the old city attractions, this idyllic seafood restaurant
with a garden has sparkling mezesweet roasted red peppers, smooth garlicky eggplant
spreadand unimpeachably fresh, expertly grilled fish.
We loved: Fish kofte (meatballs) subtly perfumed with sweet spices; the whole grilled sea bass.
It's worth taking a ferry to the picturesque shopping district of Kadiköy on
Istanbul's Asian side to eat at Musa Dagdeviren's unique restaurants. Presiding over
three small places (two kebab houses and a modest café) on the same street, the fortyish chef
researches regional peasant recipes from villages all over Turkey that
have inspired a vast repertoire of intriguingly spiced salads, spreads, stews and kebabs.
We loved: Lahmacun (Turkish lamb pizza); kebabs with fruit, such as sour cherries.
- Go List 2009: World’s Best Food Cities
- Go List 2009: Twenty Rising Stars
- Go List 2009: Best Hotel Restaurants
- Go List 2009: Best Bites Near Sites
- Go List 2009: 7 Best Bars
Recently renovated in faux-Ottoman style, this perpetually crowded shop close to the Galata Bridge
is the source of Istanbul's flakiest böreks, savory pastries filled with spinach, cheese
or meat. Its principal claim to fame, however, is the pistachio baklava, made from paper-thin yufka
We loved: Su böregi, a kind of Turkish lasagna.
Insider tip: Get your böreks to go and eat them at the nearby Karaköy docks, overlooking the beautiful mosques across the Golden Horn.
The first kebab house in Istanbul to serve traditional eastern Turkish skewers in designer
surroundings more than a decade ago, Kösebasi has spawned many imitators and the
company's own wildly successful chain of restaurants. The most glamorous location is this
one, open only in the summer, inside the nightclubby restaurant complex called Reina, with a
stunning Bosporus view. Here, the encyclopedic roster of sizzling grills comes with the requisite
trimmings, like herbaceous tomato salad with pomegranate, and addictive findik lahmacun
We loved: Cop Sis (tender cubes of lamb marinated in spices and milk); smoky chicken wings.
Opened in 2005, Mikla is still drawing glamorous crowds to its Scandinavian-style panoramic dining
room on top of the Marmara Pera Hotel. Finnish-Turkish chef Mehmet GürsTurkey's
answer to Jamie Oliver (he's young, attractive and mediagenic)puts a Nordic spin on
minimalist dishes of local lamb, fish and vegetables.
We loved: Black Sea Hamsi (similar to anchovy) toasts with lemon foam; lamb-shank confit with lingonberry sauce.
At this low-key 28-seat global bistro inside the Nu Pera complex in the restaurant-packed Tepebasi
area, a duo of young local chefs prepare inventive, fusiony dishes like lamb chops with jasmine tea
jelly. Owners Esra Muslu and Coskun Uysal (who cooked in Melbourne and London) manage to cook
and personally tend to the tiny, spare black and white dining roomwhich, despite
its high cool quotient, has a homey vibe.
We loved: Sea bass ceviche with noodles, seaweed and hot fish consommé poured tableside from a teapot.
The owners of Changa, Istanbul's hippest fusion restaurant, also run this hotspot inside the
elegant Sakip Sabanci Museum on the Bosporus's European shore. The modern
Turkish-Mediterranean mezes and entrées are fantastic, and the cocktail list features great
drinks, including one infused with bergamot.
We loved: Fried beef tongue with a cheese crust; olive oil-braised celery root with pears.
Insider tip: Book a window table to enjoy a Bosporus panorama.
Over half a century old, this pleasantly worn meyhane (drinking house) on a back street of
Beyoglu is still the favorite gathering spot of Istanbul's intellectuals. It has outdoor
tables, authentically gruff owners, rivers of raki (Turkish anise liqueur) and
textbook-perfect meze, like crisp, cheesy boreks or Black Sea baked anchovies.
We loved: Strips of crisp-fried liver served with onions and parsley.
Confirming Istanbul's status as a newly glamorous international capital, last year three
satellites of fashionable global Asian fusion spots have landed in town. Now the city has its own
Spice Market from Jean-Georges Vongerichten; an outpost of London's designed-to-death Hakassan;
and a brand new Zuma, another transcendentally trendy import from London. A swoon-worthy location
on the European shore of the Bosporus gives Zuma the edge over the competition. The multi-level
space, with a sushi bar, a robata grill and a lounge features a gorgeous Zen look, great cocktails
and a skillfully executed menu of pan-Asian small plates.
We loved: Korean-spiced lamb with sesame cucumbers.