Certainly the neighborhood’s best restaurant, Karaköy Lokantası serves up home-cooked style meals during the day and Turkish tavern style food in the evening. Make sure to try the hünkar beğendi (slow cooked lamb stew on a bed of smoky eggplant purée) for lunch and definitely make reservations in advance for dinner.
Kemankeş Caddesi No.37A, Karaköy, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 212 292 4455
The classic meyhane (Turkish tavern) menu is served in a modern atmosphere complete with an elaborate chandelier, antique objects, and crisp white tablecloths at Ma’Na. Try the delicious enginar (fresh artichoke cooked in olive oil), ciğer (liver with herbs and spices), yaprak sarma (stuffed vine leaves), sigara böreği (small filo dough rolls with melted cheese), or mücver (zucchini fritters) with plenty of rakı to wash it all down.
Rıhtım Caddesi, Fransiz Geçidi No.53/8, Karaköy, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 212 293 0993
İstanbul Modern Restaurant
Istanbul’s most important hub for modern art, Istanbul Modern also has a lovely restaurant on the top floor whose terrace faces a full view of the Bosphorus. The menu includes everything from homemade pastas to grilled meats. If you happen to be visiting the museum this is the perfect place for a break; or a cold glass of wine on the terrace.
Located on the top floor of a historic han (commercial building), Ali Ocakbaşı’s large windows overlook a full view of the Golden Horn and Sultanahmet. While you watch the ferries float by and breathe in the sea air, your table will be outfitted with some very delicious kebab varieties. Make sure to try the peynirli irmik tatlısı (semolina with ice cream) for dessert.
Tersane Caddesi Kardeşim Sokak No.45 Floor 4 Karaköy, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 212 293 1011
Mutfak Dili Ev Yemekleri
This unassuming esnaf (tradesmen) restaurant on a side street made it all the way to Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown show. Mutfak Dili, with its blue entrance, hand painted sign, and plastic tables and chairs, happens to have some of the city’s best home-cooked Turkish food. Simple dishes like salçalı köfte (meatballs covered in a tomato paste sauce), imambayıldı (aubergines stuffed with tomatoes and onions), or arnavut ciğeri (Albanian style fried and diced liver) are prepared lovingly and taste heavenly. The menu changes daily and the restaurant is only open for lunch Monday through Friday.
Tersane Caddesi, Ziyalı Sokak No. 8, Karaköy, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 212 254 1154
A very Mediterranean vibe is present all over Naif, from its dark blue and white interior to the menu that focuses on local and seasonal ingredients. Orzo pilaf with octopus; sorrel salad with avocado, green lentil sprouts and zucchini; oven baked lamb shank on a homemade farmers pasta with walnuts and Keş cheese; and oven baked quince with green apple and clotted cream are just some of the delicious options.
Mumhane Caddesi No.52, Karaköy, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 212 251 5335