It’s no surprise that you still have to call Yeni Lokanta in advance to get a table on weekends. Think of artichoke salad with strawberries or grilled octopus with smoked aubergine and olives (to name just a few). Simple but perfect is the word, just like the modern interior with hand painted eggplants on the single row of turquoise wall tiles that line the intimate space.
Kumbaracı Yokuşu No.66, Tünel, +90 212 292 25 50
Really the best place to eat in the Karaköy neighborhood, Karaköy Lokantası has become somewhat of an institution that is simply consistent in its excellence. Now it must be noted that there are two separate menus, a lunch menu focusing on more simple home-cooked Turkish meals, and the dinner menu, that adheres to the rakı plus meze mindset.
Kemankeş Caddesi No.37A, Karaköy, +90 212 292 44 55
Meze by Lemon Tree
As the name suggest, Meze by Lemon Tree specializes in meze (small tapas-like dishes) that abide to seasonal ingredients and ingenious flavor combinations. After you order a bottle of rakı (an essential), take a pick from the daily-prepared options such as eggplant puree with tahini or sea bass ceviche with lime juice.
Meşrutiyet Caddesi No.83/B, Tepebaşı, +90 212 252 83 02
Nicole has most definitely not received the acknowledgment it deserves. There also happens to be a gorgeous view of the Golden Horn, and, lest we forget, an excellent wine menu with a focus on rare boutique Turkish vineyards.
Tomtom Suites (top floor), Boğazkesen Caddesi, Tomtom Kaptan Sokak No.18, Beyoğlu, +90 212 292 44 67
Zübeyir is the king of the ocakbaşı in Taksim, with two of these aforementioned hearths inside a two-floored restaurant. You’ll get the classic kebab treatment without any frills, whether it’s Adana, Urfa or Beyti kebabs, or a beautiful array of meze. You’ll probably end up watching the people getting delightfully inebriated at the next table and singing old Turkish songs about unrequited love.
Bekar Sokak No.28, Taksim, +90 212 293 39 51
There’s a beautiful terrace in the middle of the Pera district inside a renovated neoclassical building with marble staircases and large ornate doors. We’re talking about Cachi, inside the Adahan boutique hotel, a space where the afternoon breeze makes its way through the terrace doors and past the natural wood furniture. Cachi is also a great option for breakfast, with a healthy open buffet Turkish breakfast that leaves nothing to the imagination.