Quite simply the best patisserie in the heart of old Istanbul. Eat your honey sweet Baklava while listening to the Blue Mosque's call to prayer. Or ask Çigdem's staff to wrap up your pastries so you can take them home for your friends.
Alemdar Mh., Divan Yolu Caddesi 62, Istanbul, Turkey
Google map: bit.ly/qTbE1r
Amedros was quite a haven for us while in Istanbul, since most places seem to be either cheap kebab joints or pricey designer restaurants. Though just off the touristy Divan Yolu, it is a delightful bistro. Very friendly, multilingual and efficient staff, nice modern design and delicious Ottoman influenced food.
These dishes include lamb in a sauce made from pomegranate syrup, chicken served on a bed of rice with almonds, apricots and saffron, courgettes stuffed with minced lamb - yum. There are also various intriguingly cooked steaks, the usual pasta etc, but the Ottoman food is the best. Reasonable prices, considering that wine in Istanbul costs. Two starters, two mains, a beer and two glasses or wine came to about 44 quid. You can spend far more in this touristy area for far less. Next time I'm going to try the Cappadocian stew cooked in a clay pot and brought to the table aflame - it seems a favourite.
Hoca Rüstem Sokak 7 just off the Divan Yolu tourist street in Sultanahmet, and near the Sultanahmet tram stop.
Divanyolu Cad. Hoca Rüstem Sok. No: 7
+90 212 522 83 56
Google map: bit.ly/eRWEJd
Without a doubt one of the finest vantage points Istanbul has to offer. We took the free shuttle service from Taksim Square to SantalIstanbul (a former power station, now the Museum of Energy/gallery space on the Golden Horn, www.santralistanbul.com), spent the morning there, then hopped in a dolmus down to Eyup. A cable car brings you up to the shady, hillside cafe. It's a little touristy, but get a good seat and with cay pretty much on tap, you will be well and truly rooted. The Halic (Golden Horn) ferry snakes back via Haskoy. Look out for the partially submerged submarine, an exhibit belonging to the Rahmi M. Koc transport museum.
Pierre Loti Cafe, Eyup
Karyagdi Sok., EYUP
Phone: +90 (212) 581 26 96
Google map: tinyurl.com/ycz2aee
It's only a simple cafe in the Grand Bazaar, but the tables on the "street" provide a lovely, inexpensive spot to sit and watch the world go by. You'll find it at a junction just north of the musical instrument section, not far off the goldsellers' street.
A delightful medium sized cafe on the European banks of the Bosphorous. There is a good variety of food on offer, both Turkish and international, and their salads are particularly good as is their chocolate-almond cake.
One of the nicest times to visit this cafe is between 5 and 7pm in summer when you can watch the sun setting over the Bosphorous and the sea ferry's travelling across it.
Just for information, Ask (pronounced Ashk) means love in Turkish.
Its on the city's beach road next to the Makro centre
Ortaköy is an area of Istanbul on the European side of the Bosphorous just under the first bridge.
There are many cafes and little shops in which to poke around but they are a little more expensive than the norm.
Despite this you can sit with a drink, watch the boats glide past, and admire the bridge which is lovely by day or night. Heaven!
Ortaköy is very easy to get to from any central area. Buses or minibuses going up the Bosphorous coast road all pass through it and a taxi from Taksim will cost about 10 lira. Ferries go there and if you cannot get one to Ortaköy then go to Beşiktaş and get a minibus for the remaining 2 km.
Walking through the underground cistern in the half-light listening to the sounds of dripping water mingle with the strains of classical music is an eerie but magical experience.
Reputedly the orginal cistern was built by Constantine the Great with the curent one enlarged and rebuilt by Justinian in 532. It is an amazing feat of engineering seeing the columns (approx. 336) stretch away in front of you and above towards the arched roof.
Don't miss the Weeping Column and the Medussa Head column bases (thought to mark a shrine to water nymphs).
There is also a small coffee shop in the cistern.
13 Yerebatan Caddesi, Sultanahmet
Tram stop Sultanahmet
0212 522 12 59
I came across this little cafe/restaurant during my visit to Istanbul and felt moved to write to you about two ladies I met there - Ayse Cetin and Emine Tuncel. They are the sisters who run this establishment located just 350 metres from Taksim Square. We stopped in for a drink to escape the city bustle and discovered a wonderful garden hidden at the back. Both the ladies were born and raised in the 100-year-old apartment, the ground floor of which is now the business. We even saw their 90+ year-old mother sitting in the garden reading her paper.
Emine spoke good English as she had lived in the UK for over 30 years and both sisters were so helpful when we badgered them with questions and requests for tips on things to do. In an area that was crowded with bars/cafes and restaurants, we found this place to be excellent value and quality and we ended up eating breakfast, lunch and dinner there on separate occasions. I would recommend a visit here to anyone. You couldn't hope to meet a nicer pair of Istanbulites in an authentic atmosphere.
96 Siraselviler Cadesi (opposite the German Hospital)
Situated in a peaceful, quite courtyard very close to Divan Yolu, Yerebatan Sarayi and Aya Sofya this is a perfect place to stop for lunch or a drink.
The medresseh itself houses workshops and exhibition rooms highlighting traditional Turkish crafts such as calligraphy, ceramics, jewellery and so on which you can look round either before or after your meal.
The food was well prepared and very tasty and our kick-boxing, friendly and attentive waiter was great!
The menu reflects more of a cafe than a restaurant feel with dishes such as lamb meatballs served with chilli and spaghetti and scrambled eggs with tomatoes and chilli
Caferiye Sokak., Sogukkuyu Cikmazi No 1
Quite easy to miss but is signposted from Caferiye Sokak
Tiny, traditional and the sort of place you find by accident, Aytekin Cay and Nargile Café is centrally located on a quiet street just off Taksim Square.
Perfect for a breather from the city’s frenetic pace, “Cay” or tea and “Nargile” (shisha/water pipe) are exactly what you should come here for as they do little else – but they do it well.
Seating is predominantly outside on the pavement and consists of stools and knee-high tables, but any discomfort is soon forgotten over a competitive game of backgammon.
Şehit Muhtar Cad. No: 71, Taksim;
tel: 212 361 8402
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