Collected by Bonnie Wong
Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Erzak Ambarı Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Smaller than the Grand Bazaar but more intense, the Spice Market is equal parts tourist trap and necessary shopping stop for cooks and foodies. Meet the original spice girl at Ucuzcular (remember Area 51 to find her booth), one of the few...
Silivri, Istanbul, Turkey
by Sylvia Kouvali The mosque here was built for an admiral who, they say, demanded that the architect Sinan build him ‘something like that,’ as he pointed across to the Aya Sofia. The complex also includes a newly renovated hammam where I take...
Cankurtaran Mh., 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
If these palace walls could talk they’d recite plans for military campaigns and tales of love, lust and betrayal that make this former residence and imperial seat of the Ottoman Empire so intriguing. Walk the tile-and-mosaic-lined corridors...
Beyazıt Mh., 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Soon after conquering Constantinople and defeating the Byzantines in 1453, Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II commissioned the beginnings of the Grand Bazaar to reinvigorate trade with the city. More than 550 years later, the bazaar is one of the oldest...
Vişnezade Mahallesi, Dolmabahçe Cd., 34357 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
This decadent palace, which overlooks the Bosphorus from the European side, holds great importance to Turkey. The late-19th-century sultans resided here and ruled the Ottoman Empire from here, and while the Turkish Republic's capital is in Ankara,...
Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Ayasofya Meydanı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Walk into Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya) and look up to the heavens to see why so many conquerors and their respective religions claimed this basilica turned mosque turned museum as their own. Visitors will swoon over the Byzantine gilded mosaics,...
Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Get on the Turyol ferry across the Bosphorus for a budget friendly no frills tour offering excellent views of Istanbul. Departing every hour from Eminonu between 10am and 7pm, this simple 1.5 hour round trip cruises along the Asian and European...
Rumeli Hisarı, Yahya Kemal Cd., 34470 Sarıyer/İstanbul, Turkey
Most visitors to Istanbul probably don’t realize that there is a fortress there. Located on the western shore of the Bosphorus (just south of Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge) is a fortress that dates back to pre-Ottoman rule. Rumeli Hisarı...
Caferağa Mahallesi, Moda Cd. No:166, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Turkey
A cross between baklava and a croissant, katmer is a sweet, airy, pistachio-drenched Turkish breakfast pastry guaranteed to give you a sugar high that will last the whole day. Made from sheets of thin phyllo dough, kaymak (clotted cream), sugar,...
Tomtom Mahallesi, Ara Güler Sk No:2, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Cafe Ara was a perfect stop on a rainy chilly day in the Taksim/Beyoglu part of Karakoy, Istanbul, Turkey. The cafe is named after a magnificent Turkish photographer who worked in Istanbul and whose large format black and white images adorn the...
Alemdar Mh., İncili Çavuş Sk. No:15, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
On arrival to Istanbul, many tourists order the chicken şiş (chicken kebab) for a meal because it's familiar and safe, but they're really missing out on some of the best food in the world! I encourage anyone visiting Turkey to gastro-travel...
Sinanpaşa Mahallesi, Köyiçi Meydanı Sk., 34353 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
One of my favorite foods in Turkey (and there are many) is a serving of fresh kaymak clotted cream, drizzled with honey, and spread on bread. You can buy it in the supermarket or find it in some breakfast spots, but everyone's favorite is Pando in...
by Sylvia Kouvali The neighorhood’s best bakery is across the street from istanbul"Rodeo. They make goodlahmacun, something between an unrolled pita and a thin-crust pizza. Thepides, pizza-like baked breads, are also excellent.Lüleci Hendek Cd....
Gümüşsuyu Mahallesi, 34437 Beyoğlu/Istanbul, Turkey
Warm, fragrant, and filling, these borek are typical Turkish quick eats. They can be stuffed with either ground spiced meat (occasionally with black currents and/or pine nuts) or a cheese and parsley mix. They are enjoyed best fresh out of the...
Caferağa Mahallesi, Güneşli Bahçe Sk. No:43, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Turkey
One afternoon, I dragged my travel companions—a German, a Turk, and two New Yorkers—to Kadıköy, a neighborhood on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, to dine at Çiya. Everyone was cranky and hungry by the time we found it, but I knew the...
My Turkish friend Erem introduced me to these highly addictive "wet burgers" the minute I got to my hotel near Taksim Square. After a 17-hour flight, the compact burger—a garlicky patty inside a soft bun that's been doused in tomato sauce—...
Rıhtım Cad. Katlı Otopark Altı No: 3-4 Karaköy, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
While in Turkey I enjoyed traditional desserts like baklava, but I learned to eat them in an nontraditional way. Did you know there was baklava etiquette in Istanbul? My friend Fatih took me to Karaköy Güllüoğlu, the famous baklava sweet shop in...
At the north end of the Galata Bridge, and just before the start of the seafood market, stands a small kiosk where a man grills mackerel filets for sandwiches. A few shakes of spices, some salad, a squeeze of lemon, and you're on your way to the...
Hoca Paşa Mahallesi, 34110 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
This was my official welcome to Turkey. After taking the train from the airport to our new home in Istanbul - the area Gulhane - we ducked into a tiny cafe on a quiet corner for a coffee. Not only was the cup and saucer bright and beautiful, the...
Firuzağa Mah., Cihangir Mahallesi, Türkgücü Cad. 59/A, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
After a morning of wandering Istanbul's winding streets, it is a treat to find a delicious eatery like Datli Maya, ready to welcome you with brick-oven baked bites in the form of lahmacun (similar to a thin-crust pizza) and other delicious menu...
Sultanahmet Mh., Sultan Ahmet Mahallesi, Kabasakal Cad Arasta Çarşısı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
The very chill owner of Arasta 79 has one of the best shops in Istanbul. Ikat scarves, knotted silk jewelry strung with chunky jewels, delicate crochet strings of flowers, pestemals in every weave and color, bright Suzani and Uzbeki ceramics. If...
Tomtom Mahallesi, Yeni Çarşı Cd. No:54, 34433 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Chef Arzu Gurdamar runs her kitchen like she runs her life—with whimsy, flair, and a dollop of determination. She is a thoroughly modern Istanbullu, a woman who goes her own way—and rides a Harley Davidson in her (virtually non-existent) spare...
Mahallesi, Simitçi Şakir Sk. No:16, 34080 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Are you a coffee lover or foodie searching for a unique Turkish culinary experience? Then after a satisfying meal in Turkey ask your waiter if they serve "menengiç" coffee from South Eastern Turkey. Menengiç is a pistachio-flavored caffeine-free...
5, Mollafenari Mahallesi, Nuruosmaniye Cad. Armaggan No:41, 34120 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Just outside of the Grand Bazaar on the top floor of the Armaggan store is Nar Lokantasi. With a more upscale feel than most other places in the area lunch (or dinner) here is a nice rest from a day of shopping. The food is Classical Turkish and...
Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Kara Ali Kaptan Sok. No:7, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
The blocks of Karikoy from the Galata Bridge going east to Istanbul Modern have emerged as one of the hottest areas in the city in recent years. In this transitioning neighborhood, there are still plenty of local barbershops and offices and shops...
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