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T+L's Irresistible Istanbul Restaurants

Travel + Leisure · Guide to Istanbul · created over 2 years ago

Forget trendy and mod. When it comes to dining in Europe, we're forever seduced by the authentic, the inimitable, the timeless. Here, our favorite dishes to eat in Istanbul. By Anya Von Bremzen. Adapted from "Irresistible European Restaurants," Travel + Leisure, October 2011. http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/europes-most-irresistible-restaurants

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    raki at Münferit

    A contemporary meyhane with triple-distilled raki (made by the owner's family) and delicious updates of classic meze.

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    Kebap at Çiya Sofrası in Istanbul, Istanbul Province

    Chef-ethnographer Musa Dagdeviren still threads the city's best minced-meat skewers: laced with pistachios, grilled inside eggplants, or sauced with sour cherries.

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  • Döner Kebap at Beyti in Istanbul

    This roast-meat mecca by the airport has the world's greatest döner kebab.

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  • Lakerda at Kiyi in Istanbul - Europe

    Locals maintain an almost irrational devotion to their trusted old fish restaurants along the Bosporus. My personal grail is Kiyi, in Tarabya, way up toward the Black Sea, where the air is salty and bracing. Lakerda, the fatty, thick-cut, lightly cured Black Sea bonito, is part of the time-hallowed ritual.

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    Lamb Stew at Kantin Lokanta in Istanbul, Turkey

    Chef Semsa Denizsel is the Alice Waters of Turkey, evangelical about everything local and seasonal. "Bugun" (today) is the most important word at her chic, understated place. Check the small blackboard daily menu for the diaphanous stew of young grass-fed Thrakia lamb, favas, flat beans, and artichokes.

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  • Lady's Thighs at Aslan Restaurant in Istanbul, Turkey

    "Esnaf lokantas" are humble lunch canteens whose stewy, motherly fare nourishes a (mostly Muslim) clientele of workers and shopkeepers. Unusually for an esnaf lokanta, Aslan, near the Nuruosmaniye mosque, serves alcohol. Order a light Turkish red with the Ottoman-style "lady's thigh"—minced chicken cylinders fried in pale lacy batter—and eggplant baked to a creamy softness beneath a juicy ground-lamb topping.

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  • Börek at Karaköy Lokantası in Istanbul, Istanbul Province

    The meyhane of the moment in the gentrifying docks area by the Galata Bridge keeps its glass meze display artful with some three dozen items—and that's just cold starters. The oozy cheese borek is loaded with shreds of aromatic pastirma, a cured beef.

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