Posted in Travel

Istanbul – part 2: Where to eat and where not to

Let me add my voice to the many people praising Turkish foods. It’s abundance and fierce. You can eat constantly during a week and still miss lots of signature dishes.

My hostel is in the Sultanahmet district – the Old City, the most touristic district but also very beautiful. After checking in, I went out for diner and was immediately invited into this “Bistro chef”, just 100 meters away from Topkapi Palace. It happened to be a good restaurant, with reasonable price. I tried Adana Kebab, one of the dishes that you should taste in Turkey.

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After the meal (25 tl – 6 euros), they offered me a free tea and I took my time. Then I left and wandered the streets; 1h later, I passed by that restaurant again and they offered me a 2nd free tea. I had to say no this time. That happened to me in every shop. Whether I bought things or not, they genuinely offered me tea ^^

However, I don’t recommend the “Topkapi” shop next to it, it looked fancy but it sold Turkish delights at the highest price in town. Also, when I asked to buy 1 gr of saffron, the guy packed 5 gr for me and insisted on me to buy it. You know how expensive saffron is.  With my style of eating, it’ll take me 50 years to use all that saffron.

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Fruit juice everywhere, cheap and fresh. Don’t buy it inside museums or palaces, it will be of 3x price than small shops on street.

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Turkish icecream (dondurma) with the smiling icecream-batter man, it may sound like a tourism cliché but the icecream tastes good:

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Turkish food: grilled pepper, and feta-spinach flatbread, near Topkapi Palace.

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Ok quality but a little bit over-priced, as with all restaurants next to tourist attractions. If you must eat near Topkapi Palace, or Hagia Sophia, I recommend the “Bistro Chef” above.

There’re some quite good cafe+sweets shops near Topkapi Palace. “Efezade” is one of them, they have a sweet baking oven just next to the window that you can admire. Of all the baklava shops I tried in town, I prefer this one.

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At “Osmanlizadeler” confiserie shop nearby, very good too, it’s quite popular:

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Then, when I walked to the sea port, I randomly discovered this small eatery which turned out to be great. “Sirin Kofte” located in a small alley which posted “Shortcut to train station, the sea, Galata bridge and Everything”. I took that shortcut everyday and literally had to walk through the eatery. Inevitably, the patron made me promise to eat there once, I did, and got hooked (with the food, not the patron!).

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My Turkish breakfast there, fried anchovies one day (18 tl – 4.5E) and cheese/egg the other day (14tl – 3.5E):

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While I was eating my fish, this kitty came and waited on me. How can you resist this face? So I threw her an anchovy head.

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The patron, who said his name was Antonio Banderas. I told him my name was Catherine Zeta-Jones.

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It’s not far from Hagia Sophia either. I regret I didn’t know it the first day.

Under Galata bridge, there’re a dozen of restaurants, eateries at one side of the bridge and dancing/live music bars at the other side. I don’t remember the name of this restaurant, but under the bridge they were all of the same caliber:

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A plate of fish/seafood there was 25 tl – 60 tl (6E – 15E), depending on what kind of fish. A little bit more pricey than others in town, but you pay for this magnificent view:

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The area around the water bank is the best bet for seafood (a must in Istanbul). I heard the small restaurants along the bank in the Karakoy district, just across the Galata bridge were good and cheap too, but I haven’t tried them.

One fancy dish that I saw and told myself to try, but then I forgot: Cerra Kebab. They seal meats & vegetables in a flaming claypot and serve it to you sizzling hot. You can order it at both Bistro Chef or Sirin Kofte. Do not order it near Topkapi Palace: 3x price, as usual.

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(Only these 2 pics are from google, the other pics are mine.)

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My stock websites for photos: https://www.picfair.com/eressea

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