Before we get started…this list is not exhaustive and doesn’t cover touristic blockbusters (that said, don’t miss Aya Sofia, arguably the only earthly illustration of would happen if God was an architect, literally). It’s just a bit of what we like, mainly in relation to food and drink in our favourite neighbourhoods. Here goes…If you want to eat somewhere special in Istanbul, especially at the weekend, make a reservation as soon as you can because the city’s restaurants book up early at the best of times (your hotel can help you out if you don’t speak Turkish). Cost: While you can enjoy street side snacks at low-cost, fashionable restaurants serve food and drink at European prices. Sultanahmet is full of tourist blockbusters but we find that food & drink options are better around Beyoglu. Note that behind Istikal Caddesi in Beyoglu there are a bunch of alleyways worth exploring for cafes, bars, street art etc. Have fun!
Cigdem Pastanesi: Unwittingly retro 60′s style cafe serving amazingly light and fluffy cheese böreks (how do they do it?!) and good coffee. Brilliant when you need to refuel, conserve cash or simply can’t face another enormous Turkish-sized dinner. Hot chocolate and traditional Turkish pastry treats are also divine. If this place wasn’t in Istanbul, I’d be there every weekend. Divan Yolu (Ordu) Caddesi 62A, Alemdar
Cooking Alaturka: Dutch run restaurant and cooking classes. The dishes are out of this world and one way of getting past the tedium of ‘menu touristico’, though the price of lunch made our eyes water. (Ouch!) We’d recommend the cooking classes though. Akbiyik Caddesi 72A Tel: 212 458 5919
Hotel Nomade Terrace Bar: This hotel bar is open to anyone seeking a terrace view for a relaxed evening drink with a generous glass of local wine. If it’s cool outside, blankets are available to ward off the chill, otherwise, hang inside with the resident cats. If anyone can explain why all the paintings of fez-wearing gentlemen have subtly flying moustaches, we’d be happy to hear it. Ticarethane Sokak 15, Alemdar, Tel: 212 513 8172 Continue reading