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— 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-restaurantsRead more...
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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.
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.
"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.
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.