Istanbul: In a Nutshell
Twice the capital of the world's reigning super-power, and for centuries the world's largest city, for some reason Istanbul gets forgotten on the register of the world's great cities. Still today, by all criteria (except perhaps importance to global finance) it is as great as London, New York and Tokyo. The food scene in Istanbul has the diversity and depth of any other global mega-city.
Culinarily, Istanbul hits every target. You can eat well in homey settings, there are compelling fine dining options, gorgeous sunset seafood on the Bosphorus, gimmicky hibachi-style chef displays, and best of all, there's street food everywhere. I have no doubt that Istanbul is the best place on earth to eat, but as with all major cities it is important to be aware of a bad meal. So, we've done some planning for you. Get yourself out the schlocky parts of Sultanhamet and explore the culinary bounty this city offers.
A fun revelation of eating in Istanbul is that for every comfort food (except pork, of course) you loved back home, the Turks have an answer. Sure Istanbul is now experiencing a Neapolitan style pizza boom, but why not eat Pide, the Turkish Pizza? Why would you get Ravioli when you can have Manti? A burrito when Durums abound? Burgers? No, get a Wet Burger! Quesadilla? Gozelme! Panini? Ayvalik Toast! Whew we could keep going. Anyways, you get the point... we highly recommend adapting and learning.
The best way to eat in Istanbul is to always have breakfast (Turks do a wonderful breakfast spread), a carb-loaded rice and bean lunch at a lokantasi, and a boozy mehayane dinner of meze and fish. In between save some room for impulse Doner Kebab or street mussels. There are temptations on every corner.
At the prime point of the Golden Horn that leads North to Europe, is Beyoglu. On this hilly little peninsula West meets East to have a drink together. This rapidly beating heart of young Turkey, is the lively center of a country that’s at the cultural center of the globe. You’ll see English tourists shopping for exotic sweets, young Turks mingling over beer, and Arab Muslim tourists smoking hookah. One things for sure, all parties will be lined up for tempting street side Kebabs and stuffed mussels.