Turkish Cuisine: the Modern Twist

Istanbul, Turkey

8 places

Ksenia Mardina

Boza, kuru fasulye and kofta plus Bosporus fish – a perfect combination.

Suna’nin Yeri

One of the best seafood places in the city, which has not been mentioned in every guidebook yet. It's all about simplicity – tables right by the Bosphorus, ship-watching and friendly waiters. The place has no reservations, so hurry to get a table before dawn. If everything is taken, the staff will figure something out for you. There is no menu – you'll be offered today's catch. Try their fava beans and homemade baklava cooked by the wife of one of the waiters.

Meze by Lemon Tree

Modern serving of traditional Turkish appetizers. Seafood in mini plates, not so greasy faba and yaprak sarma (grape leaves with meat) are served with zucchini pita. Add some wine or rakia and it'll be an ideal pseudo-healthy dinner – servings of so tiny you miss the fact that you ate about a dozen. So ask for more rakia.

Cibalikapı Balıkçısı

A typical dinner would be 20 plates for two. Pistachio and cheese pasta, caramelized onion with cinnamon, sea bass wrapped in vine leaves, squid and five kinds of fresh bread – better leave your model friend in the hotel. It's the food feast and you can safely drink a lot – the food is so greasy it absorbs everything. Booking a table is a must – Istanbul has many gluttons.

Balikci Sabahattin

An upscale seafood place in the 1920s estate. In the summer, their terrace has a fab view of Hagia Sophia – however, this also boosts the prices. It's a perfect place to celebrate some special occasion (your first or last day in Istanbul). The food is awesome especially spice fish bowls and marinated sea bass. Orient Express trains used to pass along it until the 1970s and now – these are night trains bound for Belgrade and Bucharest – so romantic.

Istanbul Culinary Institute

This place at the Culinary Institute is a treasure trove of surprises – new menu every day with top Turkish food cooked from seasonal products only – they have gardens in the north of the Aegean Sea. You can munch on soups and dolma or try Jerusalem artichoke stew with yogurt lemon sauce. There is a deli on the first floor – a great place for breakfast, jams or berry drinks. Sometimes they arrange culinary Istanbul tours – a great solution to try everything yummy if you are short of time.


A reason to live in Bebek. The place is pretty relaxed, no Ottoman decor – wooden floors, large windows and a veranda overlooking the bay. Morning is time for great breakfasts and coffee and in the evening the place is packed with locals. Their week-end brunches are a hit as it's the best hangover remedy – so filling and delicious.


My favorite boza place is Vefa in Fatih. Boza is a fermented drink, thick, sweet and sour, usually served cold as kefir drink and can be consumed with a spoon. This boza shop is pretty old – Ataturk was one of its patrons. They serve boza with cinnamon and people come here especially for the drink – sit with their glasses, drink it or eat and then leave. Inside the place resembles an old-school drug store – quiet, mysterious – like serving some healing potion. The neighborhood is far from tourist Sultanahmet-Old City or markets. So authentic and calm and pretty central at the same time.


A Thai place with cooking classes – just in case if you want to try something new or learn how to cook an authentic tom yum.


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