A City Tasting Tour: Istanbul Food Guide
Istanbul: two continents, one city; as one of Europe's most exciting and up-and-coming cities, Istanbul is a large metropolitan spread out over two continents divided by the Bosphorus.
With an intensive gastronomical history of Ottoman cooking, spices and influences from the Balkans down to the Middle East, eating in Istanbul is a true “delight”!
On any given trip to Istanbul, journey to the mystic world of the Spice Market is a must! Since centuries, tourists have been flocking by the hundreds to Istanbul’s historic Spice Bazaar (also known as Egyptian Bazaar), drawn to the exotic dried fruits and barrels of colorful spices.
Located at an exclusive corner of the Bazaar is the alluring institution of Malatya Pazari dating back to 140 years. Like many stores there, Malatya Pazari specializes in dried fruits, nuts, spices and other creative delights.
A countless range of Turkish delights and creative combinations of deserts could satisfy any sweet lover. “Bülbül yuvası” (birds nest) and pistachio dolma are some examples of the imaginative goods they have created resembling classic Turkish deserts.
Crossing over Golden Horn from the Galata Bridge to Karakoy, the popular Karaköy Güllüoğlu offers probably the best baklava in the city. With over 11 branches around the world, including in New York City, Athens, and Hong Kong the original and historical Karaköy Güllüoğlu is the true experience. Güllüoğlu specializes in the classic pistachio and walnut baklava. For stocking up on their famous baklava to take home, one should go for the “dried” baklava options with is a lot easier to take back home- not to mention less messy.
Hacı Bekir is one of the oldest sweet shops of Istanbul, having been established by Bekir Efendi back in 1777. In those days, the Sultan was allegedly so fond of the Turkish delights produced by Bekir that he was granted him the Nişan-ı Ali Osman, a first-degree medal of honor.
The original shop is located in Eminönü, while the head office is on Beyoglu’s Istiklal Street. Stepping into the unique store, the display of bright, colorful jars full of Turkish candies and bonbons catch the eyes. Over 15 different flavors of Turkish delight are offered, including rose, hazelnut, orange, apricot, ginger and coffee.
Cross continental boat trip
Nothings say Istanbul like crossing over to the other continent, preferably by the water! Taking a ferry one can sample some of the best Ottoman cuisines in the city on the “Asian side”.
Located inside Kadikoy’s fish market of Kadikoy, Ciya Sofrasi specializes in southeast Turkish cuisines. Çiya’s chef Musa Dağdeviren takes inspiration from peasant foods all across Anatolia in addition to the Balkans, Israel, Armenia and Iraq. The innovative Anatolian recipes displayed daily are well worth a visit to this “hole in the wall”. A large amount of the dishes have a traditional seasoning of garlic, hot peppers and parsley in addition to sweetness from pomegranate pulp and unripe fruits.
Within six minutes from Besiktas to Uskudar and walking distance from ferry station near Mihrimah Sultan Mosque is the legendary Kanaat Restaurant. Founded in 1931, it has kept the same consistent menu of home made Turkish cuisine and celebrated ice creams for decades.
The mission of Kanaat Restaurant according to Murat Kargili, one of Vahdettin’s sons, is to preserve what was originally cooked at home by the grandparents and previous generations; to pass over the cultures and traditions of home made Turkish meals.
Istanbul’s exhilarating nightlife and bar scene is unparallel. Particularly in Beyoglu area where thousands of bars, nightclubs and music halls lay, going out with an empty stomach is not an option! On a calm alley in Beyoglu’s popular Asmali Mescit area Antiochia restaurant resembles an alternative, hipster Lebanese or Moroccan restaurant in Lower East Manhattan. This casual yet mystifyingly scrumptious restaurant brings out the sacred tastes of the ancient Roman city in southeast Turkey of Antakya.
Antochia’s proud owner Suleyman Gulum and staff specialty is the zesty pomegranate molasses dressed starter and dürüm, minced meat with herbs in a burrito. All the ingredients are brought from Antakya.
You know it's real street food when websites are unavailable! Enjoy Istanbul.