Love Affair with Everywhere--Istanbul part II

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

So, I am back in what has become my favorite city.....Istanbul.
This time I am here for work, so if you are looking for tourist activities/recommendations, check out my previous post at

This post will just highlight some restaurants...
As mentioned, I went on business, so was with our local customers the whole time. I love hangin out with people who are from a place and who are so proud to show off their city. I feel that way about my hometown and love being able to show people the 'other side', if you will, of a city.

For lunch and dinner, they took me to some wonderful 'lesser known by tourists' places in the city. Here are a couple I was particularly impressed with:

Assk cafe on the bosphorus. Great location on the bosphorus with a pleasant staff and fabulous light lunch food. Really popular with the locals, you wont find many tourists here. We had a work lunch, but my host tells me Sunday brunch there is the best in the city. I go the Izmir salad..yummy...  
Assk Kahve--Kuruçesme Mh., Muallim Naci Caddesi 64

For dinner we headed to Lokanta Maya, definitely my favorite meal. Cozy, quiet atmosphere in the center of a bustling city, definitely a good place for a nice quiet dinner. Serves small plates and every single thing we ordered was delicious--2 of my faves were the octopus and the linguine asparagus! There is a variety, so if you like meat you can get some meat dishes, same with fish and veggies. We ordered a local Turkish red wine which was new for me. It was a bit dry at first, but once it was allowed to breathe, it was quite delightful with our meal.
Couldn't find an actual website, but here is their blog with the address They are located close to the main bus station on the old city side of the galata bridge.
Lokanta Maya
Kemankeş caddesi no: 35 A
Karaköy, İstanbul
212 2526884

One night we did go to a tourist popular restaurant, Balikci Sabahattin, since it is hailed as one of the best seafood places in the city. Its located in the old city--sultanahmet--near the aya sofya and blue mosque. My hosts have been going there for more than 20 years and they said that even though they have outgrown their space and become popular with tourists that the food has remained consistent. That's quite a feat for a restaurant. Recommend making reservations. We sat outside. i would highly recommend that if the weather is even slightly pleasant that you sit outside. Here they bring all the appetizers on a tray and you just select which ones you want. No menu needed. Just look and choose. Pretty cool in my opinion. 

For lunch we stopped into another little cafe on the bosphorus in between meetings. Gazebo Cafe was SUPER cute. Seemed like it was a house turned into a restaurant. There were only 5 people there. 3 men having a business lunch and us. I loved the atmosphere. It was obvious that unless you are looking for this place, you probably won't find it. Great views, fantastic staff and yummy food...again! I had the saffron risotto. Was wonderful.
Gazebo cafe

Yeniköy Mh. Köybaşı Caddesi 125

And finally, my last meal, we went to a typical turkish restaurant Konyale which is taken after the coastal town of Konya. As you can tell, I ate and ate and ate some more on this visit. Any of you who know me know that while I enjoy food and love trying new things, I don't actually eat that much food. So we got here and they were so excited for me to try Turkish food that I feel like I might have eaten a bit of every dish on the menu. The appetizers were a sampler of probably 6 items (all very yummy I might add) and then the food, ordered lamb for me, and then dessert was another sampler of 5 items, i am now obsessed with Turkish halva with ice cream. I must say, everything I had was really lovely. 

Following dinner, we went to Asia! Ha...since I hadn't crossed over the bridge yet, my host offered to take me across the Bosphorus bridge (connecting Europe to Asia) and so we went over to Baghdad (bagdat in Turkish). Was pretty cool to see that there really is a difference from one side to the other even though it is the same city, and the only thing connecting them in a bridge! It's also cool to be able to see the exact location where you are going from one continent to another but staying in the same city and country! Not much to see or do on that side, but I would recommend driving over (just to say you did) at some point during your visit.

It's true what they say about experiencing a place with a local. I am very grateful to have met such wonderful people who are so proud to be Turkish, who have lived in Istanbul their whole lives and who were so gracious to allow me to be a part of their lives for a few days.

I love Istanbul and hope I will return soon. Next time I hope to be able to see more of this incredible country.

And now, another day in Dubai and I get to go home. Until next time...

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Pinar Alcan on

Aşşk Kahve is one of the best cafe to have breakfast or brunch near the sea.
dinner is also an exclusive and romantic experience both in Kurucesme and Nisantasi branches. I hardly recommend home mede foods in Assk Kahve

richard brown on

If I had to explain this cafe in a few words, it would be romantic, cozy, amazing view and food. If you go to Istanbul, going to this restaurant is a must!

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