Monday, 11 June 2012

Istanbul's best restaurants

Istanbul is a massive, hyperacitve metropolis; sprawling out across the ends of both Europe and Asia.  It's a social and cultural melting pot that in places holds on tightly to it's traditions but seems at the same time to be modernising before your eyes.  A great way, in my opinion, to appreciate the tussle between old, new, east and west is to get stuck into the abundance of markets and variety of food available.

I found it to be a truly inspiring culinary destination but only if you're able to ignore the aggressive and pushy vendors that almost engage in a tug of war with opposing restaurants to get customers seated at their tables.  Below is a list of my favourite Istanbul establishments.

Namli Gurme, in Karakoy, was tops in my books.  It's a delicatessen that looks after locals and tourists alike and was a breath of fresh air when it comes to genuine service.  They have a counter where you order what you want, whether it be a bubbling stew, some freshly cooked meatballs or a mix of their excellent salad and veggie dishes.  This along with great coffee's and excellent desserts makes this place something very special.

Ciya Sofrasi, in Kadikoy, on the Asian side, does everything really well.  It's definitely a little touristy, because of numerous international reviews and a good Trip Advisor following, but it has original and pretty good food.  The butternut (or pumpkin) dessert is reason enough to make the trip. 

Kurufasilyeci Erzincanli Ali Baba, just outside the Suleymaniye Mosque, has been making the same mildly spicy tomato bean dish since 1924 and why change when you're onto something good.  They seemed to be seriously popular and their famous dish was wholesome and big on flavour. 

An absolute must, for any visitor is to sit at one of the multitude of restaurants on the lower level of the Galata Bridge.  They all seemed to do the same thing, and the food was decent enough, but the sight of fishermen dangling rods from the road above and the occasional fish being raised up, is really something worth seeing. 

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