Istanbul is known for its unusual variety of restaurants, and this place does not disappoint. Housed in the Old British Jail, just down the road from the Galata Tower landmark in the Old City, the Galata House is run by loving proprietors Nadire and Mete Göktuğ. The husband-and-wife team have brought to life an intimate and unique experience: Mete is one of Istanbul’s most prominent heritage architects, and he lovingly restored the jail building, which functioned as such from 1904 to 1919, and subsequently as a house for English police and court clerks, a residence for Austrian nuns, and a workshop for various metalworkers and jewelers. But history is not all the deliciously odd dive has to offer – the couple use recipes from Nadire’s Georgian mother, serving simple yet elegant comfort food. If you are lucky, they might sing and play the piano to serenade your dining experience.
–Galata Kulesi Sokak 61 Galata, www.thegalatahouse.com
2) Kuru Fasülyeci Erzincanlı Ali Baba
Simple, authentic, delicious. What else could a traveler want? Well, it’s a bargain, too. Hungry locals of all stripes converge at this longtime institution, located just opposite the Süleymaniye Mosque. This unassuming diner has been dishing up its signature kuru fasulye (Anatolian-style white beans cooked in a spicy tomato sauce) since 1924. It is all the more delicious when accompanied by rice pilaf and pickles. Another outlet next door, the Kanaat Fasülyeci, is nearly as old and serves up more of the same simple eats.
–Prof Sıddık Sami Onar Caddesi 11 Süleymaniye Süleymaniye, www.kurufasulyeci.com
The term ocakbaşıs may not roll easily off the tongue for non-Turkish speakers, but the delightful smoky, succulent specialty will melt in the mouth. Khorasani is a stylish, sleek kebap house that challenges perceptions about the simple and ubiquitous Turkish specialty. Indeed, the chef hails from southeastern Anatolia and the menu follows his regional gastronomy, meaning that a few spicy dishes highlight the menu. A great address in the Sultanahmet dining scene. -Ticarethane Sokak 39-41, www.khorasanirestaurant.com
Before opening this intimate and elaborate restaurant in Istanbul, Turkish chefs Cokşun Uysal and Esra Muslu trained in Melbourne and London. Their international training and the elegant atmosphere complement the ambitious menu, of which a selection of creative amuse-bouche and delectable home-baked bread rolls are just the beginning. Each course is a treat for the senses. Think roasted lamb and braised lamb shank with red cabbage; tahini humus and a cognac-plum puree; and dessert of flourless chocolate mousse cake served with rosewater ice cream. A special degustation menu is offered on Thursday nights for the reasonable price of 100 lira, and each course includes paired wines. -Meşrutiyet Caddesi 67 Tepebaşı Nu Pera Bldg, www.moreishrestaurant.com
Restaurateur Hamdi Arpacı opened a street stand near the Spice Bazaar in the 1960s, where he served delicious grilled kebaps in the style of his southeastern hometown Urfa. He developed such a following from the unassuming stand that he soon started his restaurant, which has grown into an institution for its consistently delicious dishes and the phenomenal views from its top-floor terrace. As you dine on delicacies hailing from across the country, you are treated to views of the Old City, Golden Horn and Galata. Must-tastes include yoğurtlu şakşuka (yoghurt meze with fried eggplant, peppers and potato), içli köfte (meatballs rolled in bulgur), lahmacun (thin, meat-topped pizza), and the house-made baklava or künefe traditional sweets. -Kalçın Sokak 17, Eminönü Eminönü, http://www.hamdirestorant.com.tr/
For more information about dining options in and around the city, please do not hesitate to contact Hotel Buyuk Keban. If you choose to book your stay with us, our receptionist at the front desk will be more than happy to help you. Dine and sleep in style! Contact us today!