The Asian side of Istanbul has always been a mystery for visitors because of its mostly residential demeanor. It’s true that Kadıköy is a real ‘mahalle’ (community-focused neighbourhood) where everyone still knows their neighbours, street cats and dogs are always taken care of, and an eco-friendly approach is always preferred. Moda is Kadıköy’s coolest area where the young people reign with their bars, shops, restaurants and cafes. Always crowded with locals (and visitors), Moda has a few excellent restaurants that are worth the ferry ride across the Bosphorus.
Definitely the neighbourhood’s favourite café, Yer really reflects the eclectic vibe of Moda with its retro décor and very casual demeanor. Inside, you’ll find framed pieces of art by local artists, mismatched colourful tables and chairs, and original tile flooring. On the outside terrace, locals sit and chat over a cup of coffee or work on their laptops, while the neighbourhood’s daily to-and-fro passes by on the street. As for the menu, Yer has something to offer from breakfast to after dinner cocktails, as well as coffee. If you’re fond of the all inclusive Turkish breakfast, try the Yer breakfast spread with different kinds of cheeses, olives, jams and eggs. For lunch, you can go healthy with a wheat salad or try something heartier like the salmon pasta with tomato sauce.
Pinsa definitely has some of the best pizza you can find in Istanbul, specifically Roman-style artisanal pizza. Quite the modest pizza bar, you’ll have to come early in the afternoon to get your fill of the day’s freshly prepared slices that are cut with scissors, heated up and served at one of the few tables. Apart from the excellent crunchy and fresh dough, the toppings are also very innovative. Some examples include tuna fish with pea and mint puree, or eggplant, sucuk and marjoram. The selection changes every day, so you’ll never know which toppings you’ll have to choose from but we suggest getting a small slice of everything
Basta! Street Food Bar serves high-quality street food at accessible prices | Courtesy of Basta! Street Food Bar
When one of the chefs of Nicole Restaurant (one of Istanbul’s best haute cuisine venues) decided to open a casual food bar, everyone knew it was going to be a big success. Basta’s menu takes on classic Turkish street foods and gives them a gourmet flair with sophisticated ingredients. You’ll get the classic dürüm (a döner wrap) but it will instead be filled with spare ribs, roasted onions and Harissa (Tunisian hot chili pepper paste) or homemade lamb ‘chorizo’ and hummus. Apart from the daily special that takes on a seasonal ingredient in a creative way, like an artichoke salad or a vegetarian dürüm with asparagus, definitely try the desserts. The Paris Brest, with candied hazelnuts and hazelnut cream filling, is amazing.
With only seven tables available, this little restaurant is definitely a cozy spot for a casual, or even romantic, meyhane (Turkish tavern) experience. Yedi Masa‘s white tables with blue tablecloths are reminiscent of restaurants on the Aegean coast, and the meze varieties definitely abide to the same inspiration. You’ll find classics like fava(mashed fava beans) and grilled octopus, but also more original recipes like a wheat salad with pomegranate and topik (an Armenian dish made with chickpeas, currant, and tahini).
One of those signature neighbourhood restaurants with a thoroughly cozy and casual atmosphere, it’s no surprise that Şiraz is always full on the weekends. Located in one of the liveliest parts of Moda, with a constant flow of people walking past, the restaurant only has eight tables with the day’s specials written on a large chalkboard by the entrance. The fifteen Greek and Aegean mezes and five warm appetizers are all made from the freshest ingredients and are perfectly prepared. Dishes include eggplant with tahini, baked tomato with feta cheese, smoked anchovies, sliced liver with cinnamon, and grilled octopus with orange fennel. True to its name, Şiraz also has a great selection of boutique wines that go perfectly with their dishes.