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Restaurants in Istanbul

Surprisingly perhaps, most of the best restaurants in Istanbul are found well away from the tourist hub of Sultanahmet. Apart from the budget places, reservations are recommended wherever possible, particularly in the case of upscale restaurants and especially at weekends. 

The Istanbul restaurants below have been grouped into three pricing categories:
Expensive (over YTL80)
Moderate (YTL50 to YTL80)
Cheap (up to YTL 50)
These Istanbul restaurant prices are for a three-course meal for one, including half a bottle of house wine or cheapest equivalent, tax and service. Tipping is optional.

 

Expensive:

360 Istanbul
Located on the roof terrace of an apartment block on Istikal Caddesi, the name gives an indication of the view from here. Frequented by both wealthy Turks and foreign tourists, this Istanbul restaurant has fusion cuisine that blends Turkish, Mediterranean and Oriental styles and ingredients. Reservations are necessary at weekends. After midnight, the place turns into a trendy nightclub.

Feriye Lokantasi
With a superb view from its enviable location on the banks of the Bosphorus near Ortaköy, Feriye Lokantasi has a fine reputation for hearty Turkish meat dishes, and is one of the best restaurants in Istanbul. Lamb comes charcoal-grilled and everything is prepared in a traditional way that is adapted for the modern palate. The outdoor area comes complete with under-floor heating for cold evenings. Popular with wealthy businessmen and romantic couples alike. The Sunday buffet brunch is recommended. Reservations required for dinner.

Leb-i Derya
On a shabby street off busy Istiklal Caddesi, this part ultra-stylish terrace bar, part lively restaurant serves up Ottoman cuisine with a twist. It is the place to come for early evening cocktails in Istanbul - but make a reservation for a table with a view to enjoy your izgara levrek (grilled sea bass) or 40-spice steak. There is another branch at the Richmond Hotel at 227 Istikal Caddesi.

Moderate:

Amedros
Amedros strives for a continental brasserie ambience, but in many ways its menu couldn't be more Turkish. Its specialities include old-fashioned dishes such as testi kebabi (chunks of lamb slow-roasted in a clay pot that is ceremonially cracked open at your table, releasing a gush of mouth-watering aromas). Good for lunch or dinner, with tables outdoors in summer and in a cosy dining room in colder seasons.


Buhara Restaurant
This is an unassuming Sultanahmet restaurant which serves the full gamut of Turkish favourites, from inexpensive pide to big grills and kebabs and other meat dishes. For vegetarians, it also serves up a decent choice of non-meat dishes, mainly grilled and roasted. There are tables outside on the sidewalk, and inside in a rather spartan dining room.


Lacivert
With fine views over the Bosphorus from its eastern shore, this Istanbul restaurant serves traditional Turkish dishes - grilled meat and fish, pastries, soups and an array of sherbets and other desserts. Perhaps not worth crossing the water for if you are staying in Sultanahmet or Beyoglu, but well worth a visit if your hotel is on the Asian side.

Cheap:

Canim Cigerim
This tiny, simple Istanbul café has just one thing on the menu: liver - cooked on a skewer and chopped on your plate, served up with salad and bread. There are several tables on the quiet street, and the place, which is popular with local workers at lunchtime, is always busy. Friendly service, fresh food and very cheap in this charming area of Beyoğlu.


Hala
A string of simple restaurants (the one off Istiklal is the most quaint) in Istanbul, Hala serves up cheap, filling gözleme - pancakes stuffed with cheese, potato, spinach or meat, and meat-filled manti (local ravioli). In a rustic setting (complete with traditionally dressed women making the fillings in the window), this is the perfect place for a tasty lunch accompanied by a soup or salad. No alcohol.

Saray Muhallebicileri
With several branches over the city, the most famous on Istiklal Caddesi, Saray is something of an institution in Istanbul and has been serving up delicious cakes and pastries since 1935. Although the interior is ornate and the waiters are clad in white jackets, this is a very down-to-earth and cheap restaurant-café, most famous for its cakes and traditional Turkish puddings, but which also sells kebabs, soups and savoury dishes. A good choice for breakfast or snacks, Saray, not surprisingly, is busy all hours.
 
 
 
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