Istanbul is deliciously overwhelming and I visit every chance I get, seeking out the best meat, offal, markets and pickles the city has to offer. You can find my recommendations for food and drink in my app “Katie Parla’s Istanbul” available in the App Store, as well as on Food Republic, Australian Gourmet Traveller, and Bon App. Here are some highlights:
Balat Sahil Restoran: Go for the exceptional mezes and liver washed down with a bottle of triple distilled Beylerbeyi rakı. The fish and vegetal starters are life changing. Mürselpaşa Caddesi No:245 – Balat.
Şehzade Erzurum Cağ Kebabı: This grilled meat palace is at the entrance of Hocapaşa Sokak. Go for the cağ kebabı, skewered meat cut from a horizontal spit. Hoca Paşa Sokak 3/A – Sirkeci.
Asım Usta: The amazing döner shop across the street from Pando. Eat a late breakfast then go directly to Asım Usta for a pide full of sliced meat. Köyiçi Meydanı Sokak – Beşiktaş.
Tarihi Karaköy Balıkçısı: Tucked away on a back street amongst vendors selling hardware and scuba gear, Tarihi Karaköy Balikcisi may very well be the best fish restaurant in town. Go at lunch when (and only when) Maharrem Usta is working the charcoal and get the grilled sole. Tersane Cad. Kardeşim Sok. No:45/A – Karaköy.
Kantin: Owned by my close friend chef Şemsa Denizsel (who has been called the Alice Waters of Turkey), Kantin uses fresh, seasonal, meticulously sourced ingredients to create both traditional and creative dishes. Open until 8pm. No reservations Akkavak Sokak 30 – Nişantaşı.
Mikla: Chef Mehmet Gürs’ “New Anatolian” restaurant in the Marmara Pera Hotel continues to set the standard in Istanbul’s fine dining scene.
Adana Oçakbaşı: Simply the best place in Istanbul for grilled sweetbreads and Adana kebab. Bozkurt Mh. Bay Sungur Sokak – Kurtuluş.
Fatih Karadeniz Pidecisi. Probably the best pide in town. Buyukkaraman Cad. No.57 – Fatih.
Asmalı Cavit: A meyhane in Beyoğlu and one of the best places in the neighborhood for a traditional meal of mezes and rakı. Asmalımescit Cad. No:16/D – Beyoğlu.
Yeni Lokanta and Neolokal are dependable spots for contemporary Anatolian and upscale contemporary Anatolian, respectively.