The 7 Best Places to Dine Al Fresco in Istanbul

Andrew Ricca

Boasting some of the best preserved monuments of the ancient world, beautiful mosques, and a temperate climate for most of the year, it is no surprise that Turkey’s sprawling capital draws millions of tourists every year. Many local eateries will be happy to invite you make the best of a warm summer day with a meal al fresco. Here we review some of the best places to enjoy Istanbul’s wide range of flavors in the warm Turkish sunshine.

Red Snapper at Mikla

1. Mikla

Restaurant, Bar, Contemporary, Turkish

Mikla has consistently enjoyed some of the best local and international reviews of any Istanbul restaurant. Situated on the rooftop of the Marmara Pera Hotel and surrounded by views of the city’s most iconic historical landmarks, the ‘New Anatolian Kitchen’ fuses old and new.

2. Vogue

Bar, Restaurant, Sushi, European, Cocktails, Wine, Beer

Leb-i Derya
© Scott Dexter/Flickr
A longstanding Istanbul favorite, known for excellent service and a truly sophisticated and extensive wine list, Vogue offers modern, understated surroundings, and music at a low volume for those into long conversations. From its three terraces you can enjoy the lights of Bosphorus Bridge in the distance whilst you feast on a wide selection of pasta, meat and fish dishes.

3. Ulus 29

Bar, Restaurant, Sushi, Turkish, Mediterranean, European

A visit to Ulus 29 is one of the most sought-after social and gastronomical experiences in the city. This exclusive venue, tucked away in the hill district of Ulus and far from the city center’s roaring crowds, boasts a classy but lively atmosphere. They offer a three part menu combing international avant garde recipes and classic Turkish dishes, as well as a lounge and sushi bar.

4. Kahve 6

Kahve 6

Open all week for lunch and dinner, this small neighborhood café in hip Cihangir regularly hosts a crowd of young expats and locals, particularly drawn to the little oasis of its back garden. Sunday brunches are a favorite with bohemian types, gathering around a small fountain and surrounded by beautiful hanging plants.

Address: Anahtar Sokak No.13, Cihangir, Istanbul, Turkey. +90 212 293 08 49

Opening hours: 9:00-22:00

Ortakoy MosqueOrtakoy Mosque | © Ashwin Chandrasekaran/Flickr

5. Zuma

Restaurant, Japanese

View of the Golden Horn at Pierre Loti
© Josep Llauradó/WikiCommons
Zuma brings Istanbul the best of Japanese cuisine in minimal and elegant interiors, and an airy outdoor terrace right beside the banks of the Bosphorus. It is modelled on the informal dining style found in izakaya establishments, serving authentic flavors and textures of Japanese culinary tradition, and of course lots of sake.

6. Pierre Loti Café

Pierre Loti Café

Pierre Loti Café is named after French novelist, naval officer, and lover of all things Turkish, Pierre Loti. Its location is not exactly on the tourist trail, but the commanding views of the Golden Horn are well worth the excursion. Reaching this unpretentious tea-house, adorned with 19th century furniture and serving wholesome snacks, makes for half the fun.

Address: Eyüp Merkez, Gümüşsuyu Cad. Sok. No:5, Eyüp, Istanbul, Turkey. +90 212 581 2696

7. Zinnet Restaurant

Restaurant, Turkish

Should the overly photographed tourist sights of Sultan Ahmet fail to marvel, there’s something between the eclectic and the exotic waiting just outside the city center at Zinnet Restaurant. Located within the new, and somewhat bizarre, Turkish World Culture Park, and surrounded by kitsch pavilions belonging to the world’s Turkic nations.
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