Everyone is in need of a quick getaway every once in a while! I finally got to take some time off last month and picked Istanbul to be my destination of choice. Five amazing days in a city with so much history, culture, shopping, and countless dining options!
In case you’re planning a visit to Istanbul anytime soon, I’ve rounded up some of my personal favorites for you to choose from. I’m more of a conservative eater, so you will not see any fish or any traditional Turkish food in my choices. In any case enjoy your trip and happy dining!
The swanky high-end neighborhood of Nisantasi is home to several luxury brand boutiques including Prada, Gucci, and Versace. The residential streets are perfectly painted and colorful plants adorn the terraces. Following an elaborate tour of the Bosphorus that day, we arrived in this lavish area shortly before sunset. There is a variety of dining hot spots on every street; bars and restaurants are all packed with beautiful people who are ready to celebrate the weekend. We took a table in “Salomanje”, a bar/ cafe that serves an international and Italian menu. We ordered a creamy Alfredo pasta and herbed chicken with rosemary French fries. Both dishes were equally tasty and perfectly cooked. The ambiance was lively and the waiters spoke perfect English. I truly recommend this place!
Address: Harbiye Mahallesi, Tesvikiye Caddesi, Atiye Sokak, No 4/12 Sisli, Istanbul
What to Wear: Wear your favorite jeans with a flowing top and a statement necklace. Heels will help you blend in with the crowd, but flats are perfectly fine if you’ve been walking around all day.
You’re going to be walking a lot, so there’s no doubt that you’re going to be craving some refreshing ice cream. We stayed at the Moevenpick Hotel Istanbul, where the lobby was beautifully decorated with an ice cream cart carrying the tastiest flavors of Moevenpick Ice Cream. In case you’re not familiar with the brand, this ice cream is 100% Swiss made and has a variety of flavors from chocolate to caramel, raspberry, strawberry, etc.. The good news is that you don’t have to stay at Moevenpick Hotel Istanbul in order to savor these tasty flavors; several restaurants in the city carry this ice cream brand, including La Sirene in Bebek.
If you’re traveling to Istanbul this summer, then one item that should be on your checklist is: dessert at the Four Seasons Istanbul at the Bosphorus. This hotel is probably one of the best you will visit in your lifetime. The views of the Bosphorus, the first Bosphorus bridge, and parts of Istanbul that are on the Asian continent are truly unparalleled. The service is flawless, to the extent that your purse gets its own table-seriously! The waiters know what they’re selling and their suggestions perfectly complement your desires. For example, I had the best profiteroles EVER! The vanilla ice cream filling is perfectly sweet and the chocolate sauce with a hint of orange melts in your mouth, as the tiny chocolate crumbles tickle your palate! This dessert is a must!
Address: Ciragan Caddesi No. 28, 34349 Istanbul, Besiktas
What to Wear: Put your heels on! Even though you’re going for sunset dessert and drinks, everyone is impeccably dressed here, so make sure to spice up your outfit with your favorite sandals!
A short drive away from the Four Seasons, lies the charming town of Bebek. “Bebek”, meaning “baby” is home to the Turkish favorite “Kitchinette”. This restaurant is practically mushrooming in most areas of Istanbul, and rightfully so. The mood is so relaxed and the service is generous. This branch of Kitchinette is perched on top of a quiet street in a garden like setting. You can conveniently have a late lunch in a relaxed atmosphere. The menu- also international- features a variety of salads, pizzas, and mains. We chose the classics: a Mozzarella salad, hand cut fries, and a Margarita pizza. While pizza wasn’t a memorable one, the fries were perfectly seasoned and crispy. Enjoy a light meal and your favorite drink as you watch passers-by on a Saturday afternoon.
Address: Bebek Mh. , Ipek Sk, 34354, Istanbul
What to Wear: Pair your favorite summer dress with some trendy flats for an afternoon lunch or an early dinner.
A visit to Istanbul is incomplete without having some Kaak, chestnuts, or grilled corn from the many vendors lining the city’s streets. Blend in and feel like a local by stocking up on these trademark Turkish offerings throughout your trip!
And just because it is SO GOOD, I had to go back to the Four Seasons for a proper dinner meal. As breath-taking the view is in the afternoon, it is probably even better after the sun sets. We had a great dinner experience consisting of salads, pastas, and mante (although I would say that the mante served in our restaurants in Lebanon is way better). We also sipped a fantastic 2011 Chardonnay called Plato- which is made of grapes found only in Istanbul. (We made sure to pick some up the next day at the airport )
What to Wear: Go all out for dinner at the Four Seasons. An LBD would be perfect with your favorite colorful heels. Keep a shawl or a light bolero with you since it gets pretty breezy at night.
That’s a round up of my culinary findings in Istanbul. Feel free to tell me about your favorites in the comments section!