Baklava had its beginnings within the imperial kitchens of the Ottoman Empire, where a baklava usta (master) would spend a lifetime honing his skills. Baklava can be found all over Istanbul, but not all desserts are created equal, so make sure to get your baklava from these recommended spots.
Gaziantepli Baklavacı Bilgeoğlu
The city of Gaziantep is known for its mile upon mile of pistachio trees that produce some of the best nuts you can find in the whole country. As such, it’s no surprise that Gaziantep is also famous for its baklava filled with this Antep fıstığı (Antep pistachio). Bilgeoğlu is one of the best places in Istanbul to taste some of that Gaziantep style baklava, especially the kuru (dry) version, which is a thick and sticky baklava filled to the brim with delicious crushed pistachios. You’ll know you’ve come to the right place when you see the stack of kuru baklava in the window.
Muvakkithane Caddesi No.56 Kadıköy +90 216 336 00 49
Located in Karaköy, Köşkeroğlu sometimes lives in the shadows of Güllüoğlu, which is always filled to the brim with tourists chowing down baklava in every shape and size imaginable. More of an insider’s tip, the baklava at Köşkeroğlu has been said to taste even better because it’s not mass produced and is made in the traditional way. Make sure to try the bülbül yuvası (baklava shaped like a bird’s nest filled with nuts and thick syrup).
Mumhane Caddesi, Kat Otoparkı Altı No.2/3 Karaköy +90 212 245 52 45
Speaking of the devil, Güllüoğlu is probably the most well known producer of baklava in Istanbul and has stores all over the city. However, you have to keep in mind that the Güllüuğlu family has many members, and only a few Güllüoğlu branches still produce the kind of baklava that the family’s ancestors would be proud of. The original Güllüoğlu branch in Gaziantep as well as Güllüoğlu in Karaköy are the best places to buy baklava adhering to the traditional techniques and ingredients of a family business that began in 1871.
Rıhtım Caddesi, Katlı Otopark Altı No.3-4 Karaköy +90 212 293 09 10
Even though Konyalı is known as one of Istanbul’s first restaurants, serving traditional Turkish dishes since 1897, their desserts are also pretty famous. The baklava with orange is Konyalı’s claim to sugary fame, a beautifully crispy and chewy dessert with just the right hint of citrus orange flavor. If you want to skip the mains and go straight for the baklava, visit the Konyalı Pastanesi (patisserie) and get a big box of the orange variety.
Ankara Caddesi, Konyalı Han, Sirkeci +90 212 527 19 35
Restaurant, Turkish, $$$
Hamdi is known for some of the best kebab in the city, but their large selection of amazing baklava also makes for a great reason to visit the five-story restaurant in the middle of Eminönü Square. From baklava with walnuts to katmer (flat and flaky pastry filled with crushed pistachio), Hamdi doesn’t shy away from displaying all its fantastic baklava varieties on the ground floor as soon as you walk into the building. Either get a box to go or order some baklava after you’re done with your kebab meal.
Tahmis Caddesi Kalçın Sokak No.11 Eminönü +90 212 528 03 90
Courtesy of Hamdi | Courtesy of Hamdi