The Top 10 Restaurants In Galata, Istanbul

Galata, Istanbul |© Pixabay
Galata, Istanbul |© Pixabay
Photo of A. J. Samuels
9 February 2017

Istanbul’s Galata neighborhood stands at the epicentre of the Istanbul experience, marrying historic sites with rich cuisine and a vibrant nightlife. From exclusive rooftop bars to local kebab joints, the area offers some of Istanbul’s most refined and internationally acclaimed dining locations alongside popular, simple culinary pleasures. Here is our insider’s guide to the ten best restaurants in trendy Galata.

Leb-i Derya

Bar, Restaurant, Turkish, Mediterranean, $$$
Map View
Leb-i Derya offers a fantastic meal and drink with an even more fantastic view. While not the highest rooftop dining spot in Galata, the venue arguably possesses the most romantic panorama of the city spanning the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Asian side from its vantage point nestled on the hillside above the Bosphorus. Leb-i Derya’s menu consists of Turkish and non-Turkish items, reflecting a culinary mix that echoes the restaurant’s view from Europe onto Asia. With ample bar space, Leb-i Derya is the perfect location for a dinner followed by drinks as the city turns from day to night.

Canim Cigerim

Restaurant, Turkish, $$$
Map View
A selection of Turkish meze
A selection of Turkish meze | © Pixabay
Canim Cigerim is a straightforward and reasonably priced restaurant, providing a much welcome alternative to hotel restaurants in the Galata neighborhood. With a name meaning ‘my liver, my dear,’ Canim Cigerim’s specialty, unsurprisingly, is liver, although et (beef) and tavuk (chicken) skewers are also available. These three meat options compose the menu, one porsiyon (portion) consists of ten skewers of one of the meats, which will be promptly brought to the table along with flatbread and a bouquet of herbs, molasses-drizzled tomato and onion salad and lemon. While Canim Cigerim only does one thing, it does it assuredly well.

Meze by Lemon Tree

Restaurant, Turkish, Vegetarian
Map View

Although Galata and its neighbouring district of Karaköy are famous for meyhanes, restaurants that focus on meze and raki, Meze by Lemon Tree remains a standout among a sea of indistinguishable competitors. From its chic interior to its smart service, Meze by Lemon Tree offers a traditional meyhane experience with a unique degree of refinement. While the main courses include a select number of elegant yet simple meat and fish dishes, the real event of the meal is the selection of a number of seasonal meze from behind the counter. The degustation menu for two promises to cover all of Meze’s bases, while a bottle of raki to accompany the meze and main course remains a must.


Hole in the Wall, Restaurant, Turkish
Map View
Dürümzade is open late, so it’s the perfect place to go for an evening snack
Dürümzade is open late, so it’s the perfect place to go for an evening snack | © Dürümzade

Though Galata is home to a plethora of upscale hotels, restaurants and clubs, institutions like Dürümzade stand as a testament to the varied (and sometimes polarised) demographics of the neighborhood. For those seeking a quick, inexpensive and delicious meal, however, Dürümzade can only be good news. Dürümzade’s namesake dürüm is a beef, chicken or lamb kebab wrapped in a flavorful flatbread and garnished with parsley, onions and tomato. This no-frills place is a hit among locals and foreigners alike, from tourists wandering the back streets of Istiklal Caddesi to late-night clubbers.


Restaurant, Bar, Contemporary, Turkish, $$$
Map View

Situated atop the Marmara Pera, Mikla undoubtedly offers the most spectacular panorama of the city, sweeping from the Golden Horn to the Bosphorus and the historic peninsula. Open since 2005, Mikla’s head chef Mehmet Gürs announced his manifesto for the New Anatolian Kitchen. This philosophy is reflected in Mikla’s lauded prix-fixe menus which feature organic and ethically sourced ingredients in a range of culturally diverse dishes.

Golge Kahve

Restaurant, Turkish
Map View
As its name suggests in Turkish, Gölge Kahve offers peace in the shadow of bustling Istiklal Caddesi. Best known as a lunch spot, Gölge Kahve offers an array of homemade sweets and treats to accompany an afternoon tea or coffee. In traditional Turkish style, the menu changes daily and features a daily combination menu of hand-made soups and dishes, ranging from rice-stuffed vegetables and pasta to hamburgers and vegetarian options. Gölge Kahve remains an ideal place either for a midday meal or an afternoon with a book and a cup of tea.

Auf Restaurant

Bar, Restaurant, Turkish
Map View
Turkish Circassian Chicken ala Svensker
Turkish Circassian Chicken ala Svensker | © jeffreyw/Flickr
Part of the NuPera group, Auf offers a chic European dining room experience adjacent to the Pera Museum. Auf’s lunchtime service consists of a tantalising buffet of Turkish specialties with an international flair, presented in front of an open kitchen. The dinnertime menu presents upscale dishes ranging from lamb shank and beef tenderloin to mussels, with meat and cheese boards galore. Auf’s delicatessen alter ego is Kauf, a purveyor of cheeses and charcuteries rare within Turkey. The restaurant’s expertly staffed bar remains an equally unmissable part of this all-in-one establishment.

Ficcin Restaurant

Restaurant, Turkish, $$$
Map View
Ficcin offers somewhat of a middle ground between high-end restaurants and skewer-grilled meat joints, specialising in Circassian cuisine at affordable prices. Spread across several storefronts lining Kallavi Sokak, the venue ensures a lively dining experience. Circassian specialties appear alongside Turkish classics, including manti which is larger than usual and stuffed with potato, chicken soup and the eponymous ficcin, a layered pastry-like dish stuffed with flavorful meat. The signature speciality, however, remains çerkez tavugu, a creamy mixture of walnuts, shredded chicken and garlic.

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