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.
Leb-i Derya, Kumbaraci Yokusu No. 57, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 (0) 212 293 4989
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.
Canim Cigerim, Minare Sokak No.1, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 (0) 212-252-6060
Meze by Lemon Tree
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.
Meze by Lemon Tree, Mesrutiyet Caddesi No.83, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 (0) 212 252 83 02
Just as any trip to the neighborhood of Galata begins with a visit to the iconic Galata Tower (one of Istanbul’s most historic monuments dating back to 1348 ) so should it begin with a visit to Kiva. Located at the base of Galata’s eponymous tower, Kiva rivals only the notorious Çiya for some of Istanbul’s most original and sought-after Anatolian cuisine. With a menu as extensive and rich as the vast Anatolian heartland from which its items originate, Kiva is worth a return visit, if not solely for its spectacular view of the Galata Tower and the bustle of passersby. Classic standouts on the menu are the stuffed grape leaves in plum sauce (sarma) and stuffed eggplants. While many of the dishes are exotic even by Turkish standards, Kiva’s display case of house dishes gives perhaps the best idea of what’s in store.
Kiva Han, Galata Kulesi Meydani No:4, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 (0) 212 292 98 98
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.
Dürümzade, Kalyoncu Küllük Caddesi 26/A, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 (0) 212-249-0147
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.
Mikla, Mesrutiyet Caddesi No. 15, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 (212) 293 5656
Fureyya Galata Balikcisi
Fureyya is undoubtedly Galata’s best address for reasonably priced, tasty fish. While much of Istanbul’s formerly maritime foodscape has evolved into overpriced fish restaurants or has been subsumed by international or Anatolian cuisine, Fureyya offers a taste of authentic fare fished in Istanbul’s environs. Fureyya serves grilled and fried whole fish, as well as specialties ranging from traditional Turkish ravioli-like manti stuffed with fish, to charcoal-grilled fishcakes and fish dürüm or wraps. The only downside to this neighborhood gem is its limited seating capacity.
Fureyya Galata Balikcisi, Serdar-i Ekrem Sokak No.2, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 (0) 212-252-4853
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.
Gölge Kahve, Olivya Geçidi No.7, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 (0) 212 251 8430
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.
Auf Restaurant, Mesrutiyet Caddesi No. 67, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 (0) 212 245 60 70
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.
Ficcin, Kallavi Sokak No.13, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 (0) 212 243 83 53