ISTANBUL

My favorite places (touristic attractions, museums, restaurants, cafes, shops) in Istanbul would surely guide your trip here.

Green stands for Restaurants, Quick Bites, Coffee Shops and Bars;

Red, for touristic attractions, museums, Turkish Baths; Blue, for shops.

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What do you recommend to eat in Istanbul?

Breakfast:

Meşhur Kireçburnu Fırını – Kireçburnu

Preference of the locals around the area is this small bakery. Basic but fresh food for breakfast with the calm atmosphere of the surrounding can be good choice for those looking for an escape from the city crowd. Can be reached by bus or taxi.

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Kale – Rumelihisarı

Tables overflowing to the road may sound unpleasant at first, but Kale’s breakfast in unbeatable. Order a very traditional combination: serpme kahvaltı (breakfast spread), bal kaymak (cream&honey) and eggs, as you sip your tea watching the buzzing shoreline. First place that comes up to mind when you think of breakfast in İstanbul.

Sade Kahve – Rumelihisarı

Sade Kahve is one of the favorite breakfast places of Istanbulers, located just under the 2.Bridge connecting the two continents. Although mostly preferred for its breakfast menu, you could go there any time of the day. It’s hard to reach this small part of the shoreline at weekends, especially if the sun is shining.

Namlı Gurme – Karaköynamlı gurme

A classic breakfast place for İstanbul, although sometimes touristic. If you don’t want to meet with any surprises for breakfast around the historical peninsula, be safe and prefer here. But there are two points you need to bear in mind: tables-it’s crowded- and prices-above average-. The beauty is that you’ll see all the breakfast the Turkish cuisine can offer and just walking around the deli might fill you up or even appetite.

Coffee:

Cup of Joy – Bebek

Usually recommended for take-away coffee but if you’ve time to chat, you could spend some beautiful time with the shop owners while they’re preparing your coffee. The shop is hidden in an arcade right at the center of Bebek. My favorite coffee is drip coffee, which is served either hot or cold. Why don’t you grab your coffee and take a walk by the shoreline.

drip coffeeDrip Coffee İst – Şaşkınbakkal, Bağdat Caddesi

Coffee lovers shopping in Bagdat Caddesi take a break in this cozy coffee shop. Even if you are not keen on filter coffee, due to the method of brewing here you might like it. Drip coffee is a bit different from espresso in terms of fineness of the grind and the brewing time. It is prepared by pouring boiling water through a perforated container holding ground coffee into a glass/pot. This makes drip coffee more special compared to the mass production filter coffee. Take-away at Drip Coffee İst is also available but if you have time, sit outside and watch people walk by.

Brew Coffee Works – Eminönü

This considerably lovely coffee shop under an historical building attracts everyone’s attention with the color scheme and the interior design. Sitting facing the street and watching the crowd, while sipping your Bongo, is delightful. By the way, Bongo that is Brew Coffee Works specialty has a flavor between Café Latte and Filter Coffee.

Karabatak – Karaköy

karabatak

Karabatak is the pioneer café of the Karaköy district with its’ stylish interiors and ambiance outside. It is one of those places where you will enjoy again and again. Every time you go try a different type of coffee, they have a long list. And, if the weather is OK and if you could find a place outside, don’t miss it because sitting under the grapevine would take you away to the nostalgic atmosphere of the district.

Mums – Karaköy

This cozy coffee shop&cafe is located on the gate of French Passage, Karaköy. Across Mums, there lies another stylish cafe, OPS. You could stop by for having a coffee with the a tasty desserts.

Çay Bahçesi – Moda

Even my father has been to this place in his younger days and nothing has changed here. It’s one of the few places that makes the Turkish coffee in a traditional coffeepot and serves right at your table. No need to say much about Moda Çay Bahçesi; everything is just natural as it is. Just enjoy sitting under the trees and watch the boats pass by from far.

mambocino modaMambocino – Moda and Akaretler

The cozy ambiance, service and coffee are all perfect and being surrounded by the local shops makes Mambocino even cuter. It is wonderful to sit inside but if you want to walk along the Moda shore with your coffee, they offer take-away too. My personal favorite is cappuccino but filter coffees are also recommended for those not preferring milk with coffee.

Cafe:

Ara Café – Galatasaray, Beyoğlu

A café inspired by the Turkish photographer Ara Güler, thus the name Ara Café. Even this is a good enough reason for you to stop by and enjoy his work covering the walls of this cozy cafe. Its signature dish is Balkan kofte and I would personally recommend the baked rice pudding with a Turkish tea.

OPS – Karaköy

OPS is situated on of the newly emerging streets of Karaköy. Best alternative if you are wandering around and looking for a nice spot. You’ll definitely feel the cozy yet cosmopolitan atmosphere of Karaköy when you are at OPS: the Greek Orthodox church nearby, the French Passage across and a traditional Turkish bakery next door. I like the toast with dried meat.

backyard bebeköyBackyard – Bebeköy

It is hard to find a spot that is tranquil yet buzzing at the same time. This comfortable café in a garden with the Bosphorus views is a perfect alternative for those wishing to escape the city but cannot. I love having a pear and cherry crumble with a Turkish tea in a sunny afternoon. Backyard at Bebeköy gives me a feeling of holiday: so relaxed and joyous.

Mavra – Galata

The booming street of Galata, Serdar-ı Ekrem street, keeps having new spots moving in but Mavra has already become a classic. When you walk by, it looks like a French cafe but when you go inside, it welcomes you with a home-like atmosphere but do not expect silence; there will always be people enjoying a chat which you can ears drop. In addition, you can buy interesting objects from designers as it also serves as a boutique.

Kaktüs – Cihangir

Journey – Cihangir

Restaurant: 

Social – Cihangir

Just enter this café and walk until you reach its’ hidden garden in the backyard, although you will be smitten by each room you pass by. Aromatic incense and the smiling faces of the waiters welcome you, while you will be delighted by the delicious food and the cozy atmosphere.

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Nupera – Beyoğlu

P.F. Changs – Etiler

Ferahfeza – Karaköy

Atmosphere inside make you feel the city with the view of Galata Tower and Topkapı Palace at each side of yours. Two distinct plates are highly recommended for alternative taste:  salmon with pistachio puree and orange peel, Cinder aubergine with Truffle mushroom.

Go Mongo – İstinye and Bağdat Caddesi

Sazeli – Altunizade and Florya

Tapasuma – Çengelköy

Foça Balık – Ataşehir and Küçükyalı

Burger:

Bebek Kasabı – Bebek

Nusr-Et Burger – Bebek

Pizza:

Çukurcuma 49 – Cihangir

Otto asmalı

Otto – Asmalı, Beyoğlu

A Casual and hip restaurant of the Asmalı area. In the weekends, it is hard to find any tables as its’ delicious pizzas are accompanied by great music and a hip crowd.

Upper Crust Pizzeria – Çırağan and Bebek

This Boston based gourmet pizzeria offers 30 different pizzas.  Fortunately for us, their only destination out of US is Turkey and they have already included specialty pizzas to the menu inspired by the Turkish cuisine. This cozy pizzeria offers slice menus as well as huge pizzas you can share. The Çırağan branch is mostly take-away but the Bebek branch has both indoors and outdoors sitting areas.

Flavio – Taksim

In addition to olive oil platter they bring to the table and its delicious pizzas, Flavio makes the best tiramisu in Istanbul.

Turkish Cuisine:

Aslan Restaurant – Çemberlitaş

Şeyhmus Kebap – Çemberlitaş

Can Oba – Sirkeci

You should tell them that you come by a reference. After that, just leave yourself to the incredible hands of Mr.Oba. He’ll advise the menu of the day to you.

Tarihi Özkan Köftecisi – Süleymaniye

Craftmen around the district prefer this small and delicious restaurant. While touring around Tahtakale, you could head to here for an economic and filling lunch. It is located behind the Rüstem Paşa Mosque. Try meatball with pickles and tomato sauce and the haricot bean salad with onion.

İstanbul Culinary Institute – Beyoğlu

Borsa – Maçka

Datlı Maya – Cihangir

Kanaat Lokantası – Üsküdar

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Dönerci Celal Usta – Ümraniye

Lider Pide – Ümraniye

It is located around IKEA. You’ll like the Black sea region fired flat and round bread(pide).

Ottoman Cuisine:

Çiya – Kadıköy

Asitane – Kariye

Tavern-Pub-Wine House:

La-Brise-Beyoglu

La Brise – Nişantaşı

Something about La Brise is captivating. The decoration and the menu is perfectly French, probably the only proper French bistro in Istanbul, but there is also warmth to it. A perfect spot for any celebration, whether it is a family gathering or a romantic date, the minute you enter you feel the joy. Fancy yet easeful – it is a hard combination to find. With great food and a well-thought beer/wine menu, you can’t ask for more – a top spot in Istanbul.

Sensus – Galata

There are many wine bars opening up, but there is both an ease and a coolness Sensus offers. Just steps away from the Galata Tower, Sensus is a cave-like wine bar. They serve both their own wines under Sensus brand, and many other special Turkish wines. If it is your first time, definitely try a Sensus wine, Ventus. Other recommendations would be Pasaeli and Pendore. They show great attention to the cheese/meat platters they offer as the cheese comes from places all around Turkey. It is a delight to spend time in Sensus, sipping your wonderful Turkish wine.

Viktor Levi – Kadıköy

This historical winery is an old Kadıköy house with a large garden so you wouldn’t guess that a place like this would exist in the Kadıköy down town. I like how distinct and stylish Viktor Levi is, with a nostalgic atmosphere. The waiters help choosing wines thus the service is good whereas the quality of food is so-so.

Zeplin – Kadıköy

Zübeyir Ocakbaşı – Beyoğlu

Must try Beyti kebab and roasted hot served aubergine.

Latife Hanım – Beyoğlu

Balat Sahil Meyhanesi – Balat

Oriental and old Turkish tavern with delicious variety of sides(meze) as well as best music for the atmosphere. Must try mushroom pickles with olive oil and pan-fried sheep liver with onion and parsley.

Arnavutköy(Mimi) Meyhanesi – Arnavutköy

Bosphorus Brewing Company -Gayrettepe

Taps – Bebek

Chocolatier-Patisserie-Turkish Dessert:

J’adore – Beyoğlu

This small chocolatier house hidden in the deepness of Istiklal attracts people with its chocolate smell as well as the appealing shop window full of desserts. You will be in awe when their specialty dessert Beatrice arrives to your table. Every time I pass around J’adore, I can hardly refrain myself from stopping by this delicious chocolatier.

Çengelköy Çikolata&Kahve, Çengelköy

This small chocolatier in the center of Çengelköy serving great homemade hot chocolate is a little hard to find but definitely worth it. There are few seats inside to wait and gaze at the chocolates while they prepare your hot chocolate but not enough space to sit in, so grab a take-away. Besides this delicious winter warmer, you can buy some homemade chocolates to eat later on.

Emiroğlu Baklava – Bağlarbaşı/Anatolian side

Emiroğlu Baklava is mostly preferred by the Anatolian side residents since their shops are only located on this side. It’s among the best baklava shops in Istanbul (another alternative would be Karakoy Gulluoglu on the European side). I especially like the pistachio baklava but you may not be able to find it after 7pm, as it gets sold out.

Baylan – Kadıköybaylan kup griye

One of the oldest Turkish patisseries, at the same age with the Republic of Turkey, is a landmark in Kadıköy down town. It has special desserts such as Adisababa and Montebianco but I like Kup Griye the most. The old ladies, who are regular customers, chatting among themselves, the unspoiled decoration with the antique chairs, the white patisserie uniforms of the servers etc… All of these turn visiting Baylan into an experience: enabling you to witness the old Istanbul rather than just tasting Turkish desserts. Baylan is a living legend.

Kemal Usta Waffle – Moda

Locals’ only waffle stop in Moda, Kemal Usta may be the best waffle shop in the whole Istanbul (do not be fooled by the popular waffle shops in Ortakoy). Kemal Usta proves that waffle could be a light dessert in contrast to its’ calories. In the weekends, don’t be surprised if you wait at least 10 minutes to order your waffle. To each its own, but a killed combo would be: dark & milk chocolate spread, strawberries & bananas & kiwi, chestnut pieces and hazelnuts.

Ağa Kapısı

Ağa Kapısı-Süleymaniye

This hidden place around Süleymaniye Mosque could be preferred just for its’ mysterious tea combinations and breathtaking İstanbul view. Even a local is astonished after seeing the view from the roof of Ağa Kapısı. As I said, ask for waiter’s help according to your appetite before ordering a tea.

La Vita – Nişantaşı

Kovan Fırını – Osmanbey

Workplace:

urban station galataUrban Station – Galata

If you’re looking for quiet place to work (other than the horribly crowded and loud Starbucks), then you might want to give Urban Station a try. The system here is a bit different though. You pay for the hours you spent there such that first hour per person cost 9 TL and every hour after the first is 6 TL. Coffee, tea, cookies and bagels are included and unlimited. The Galata branch is very close to Galata Tower and the one of the other branch is in the business area Maslak.

Afyon Edirne / Kapadokya / KKTC / Şirince