Due to the fact that it has been the home to several different civilizations over hundreds of years, Istanbul’s culinary culture and cuisine are both rich and varied.
At the start of the day
For those who like to begin the day, we can recommend the tea gardens, bakeries, and börek sellers along the cool shores of theBosphorus. While sipping your cup of tea, you might eat sesame simit with cheese, or sample the varieties of pastries offered. For those who want to have a thorough, classic Turkish breakfast, there are restaurants which offer clotted cream and honey served with a variety of olives and cheese.
You can’t get enough of the taste of kebabs!
You can easily sample the tastes of traditional Turkish dishes, such as hünkârbeğendi (a meat dish made with puréed eggplant), Pilav üstü kurufasülye (haricot bean served over rice), karnıyarık (eggplant with ground meat), etli dolma (vegetables stuffed with meat), and kebabs in the restaurants. In establishments known as wide ladle or artisan restaurants, you are able to choose from dishes that have already been prepared.
Of course, kebabs have a unique place within Turkish cuisine. You might try Urfa andAdana kebabs, made from ground meat, shish kebabs made from lamb, or kebabs with tomatoes, eggplant, or peanuts. Also, be sure not to forget to try the seasonal salads and mezzes that go along with kebabs.
A light, healthy alternative: Mediterranean cuisine
Without a doubt, one can distinguish elements of the Mediterranean palate in Turkish cuisine. Turkey is a Mediterranean country. One can’t leave without trying the unique tastes of such cold dishes as grape leaves with olive oil, wrapped leaves, black-eyed pea, green beans, artichokes, and red beans.
As another option, you might drink Turkish coffee after eating a light lunch at any one of the innumerable restaurants in the neighborhoods of Nişantaşı, Beyoğlu andKadıköy.
A tea break in Moda
After a fantastic breakfast and a filling lunch, you might take a tea break at one of the seaside tea gardens in Moda, a quiet, pleasant neighborhood on the Asian Side. There, with an incomparable sea view as your companion, you can sip tea. Later, while you are walking toward Kadıköy from Moda, don’t forget to buy an ice-cream cone from Ali Usta, where you can find ice-cream made from ripe seasonal fruits.
A tour of Istanbul’s flavors continues with sunset
An Istanbul sunset is an unparalleled event... The shadows grow long, the sun’s blinding light ends its shift as it sinks into theBosphorus. Everyone empties into the streets in order to dispel the day’s exhaustion. Now is the time to meet with close friends for a fine evening meal, to sip from several cups of liquor, to listen to music and to dance.
Well then, where shall we eat dinner? For dinner, you might go to one of the fish restaurants along the shores of the Bosphorus, or you might prefer one of the restaurants inKumkapı, on the New Galata Bridge (Yeni Galata Köprüsü) or Beyoğlu. Along with these options, the ‘meyhanes’, which offer both authentic Turkish cuisine and entertainment, are a tempting alternative.
World cuisine in Istanbul
If you would like to sample cuisines from around the world, you can do so at a variety of locations on both sides of Istanbul. In particular, restaurants offering different varieties of global cuisine are easily found in areas such as Beyoğlu, Etiler, Baghdad Avenue, Nişantaşı, and Maslak.
Fruits of the sea
Undoubtedly, it is impossible not to eat fish in a country that is surrounded on three sides by waters where fishing is common. We recommend you try the fish in Kumkapı or restaurants in the seashore of Bebek and Sarıyer. In particular, the number restaurants in the neighborhood of Tarabya are rapidly increasing. On the Asian Side, Çengelköy, Anadolu Kavağı, and Beylerbeyi each offer ample opportunities for dining on seafood.
When choosing fish, what should one pay attention to? Above all, we recommend choosing a fish that is in season. It is also crucial that you choose a sea fish, rather than a freshwater fish. At certain restaurants, one has the opportunity to examine and to choose personally one’s fish. As for our specific recommendations, according to seasons you can’t go wrong with bluefish, sea bass, bonito, sea bream, whiting, çinekop or mackerel. Of course, one can’t forget Black Sea sardines.
I wish I were a fish in a rakı bottle!
When one says fish, rakı immediately comes to mind. And when one says rakı, one can’t help but think of Istanbul’s meyhanes. For most people who live in Istanbul, rakı is not just a drink, but a common culture. The most important elements of a meyhane meal, of course, are mezes. Greek, Armenian andOttoman mezes all go well with rakı. Above all, if a trio of musicians playing violin, clarinet, and tom-toms accompany your meal.
One must not forget desserts!
You can add to your Turkish dining experience yet again with dessert. Among the desserts that you might try are sweetened quince with clotted cream, bread-pastries with clotted cream, baklava along with light sweets such as kazandibi, sakızlı pudding, and rice pudding (sütlaç).