With only 48 hours to spend in Istanbul, you really don't want to have a bad meal. Doing my research before we left, one place that kept turning up with names like "Best Meals of 2012," My Last Meal on Earth Would Be,"—plus recommendations from trusted friends—was Çiya.
After a leisurely morning wander around the seaside neighborhood of Ortaköy, we hopped on a ferry, grabbed a glass of hot tea, and headed to the Asian side of Istanbul.
In Kadıköy we found young buskers playing traditional music on almost every corner, and vegetable and fish sellers shouting the praises of their wares. And all of the sidewalk cafes were full.
Çiya is spread out over three locations. We had the difficult choice of choosing one of them. We picked Çiya kebap.
We ordered a thin and spicy lahmacun—a kind of turkish pizza—to start and then moved on to our meaty mains: Ayvalý Taraklý, an intense dish of tiny lamb chops smothered in a pomegranate and fresh quince sauce; a classic kebap plate with hand-minced lamb with lots of fresh mint; Kağıt Kebap, a spicy hand-minced lamb and hot chili pepper kebab.
We were seated on the second floor with a view of the original Çiya Sofrasi, and we watched as plates from the two restaurants were passed back and forth.
After all that food, the sun broke through the clouds, and we headed back out to the streets—to the crowds of Sunday shoppers and the sounds of the muezzin call.
Have you been here? Share a tip or a photo with fellow travelers.
Loving Boating on the Bosphorus
Istanbul’s Bosphorus River separates the Asian side from the city's more frequently visited European side. It is tempting to limit your stay to the European side. But, getting out on the river is a must-do experience to fully enjoy Istanbul. You can simply go to the ferry docks and take a ride, hopping on whatever local ferry leaves next. Or, if you want to cross with purpose, choose a destination. We went to the Asian side for lunch, at Ciya, at one of a delightful group of three restaurants with outdoor tables in the heart of the Kadikoy food market. The owner and chef, Musa Dagdeviren serves a large assortment of delicious foods from multiple regions and ethnic groups across Turkey. His talents have been recognized by Western press including Food and Wine and Metropolitan Home, as well as AFAR Magazine. Ciya’s website describes the restaurants, menus, locations and background on the owner. www.ciya.com.tr. (You have to look a bit for the English button, which is at the bottom). A bonus is the fun of passing by the vendors in the colorful Kadikoy market.