A food-lover's paradise Istanbul

| March 11, 2010

Istanbul, the European capital of culture in 2010,  is currently proving to be one of Cox & Kings’ most popular short breaks. Michael Pullman recently sampled some of the city’s culinary delights.

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There are enough good restaurants in Istanbul to eat out every night for a month and still not get bored. To escape the crowds of tourists, dinner on the Asian side (which involves an atmospheric 20-minute night-time ferry ride) cannot be recommended highly enough.

The excellent-value Ciya Sofresi (below) has been winning plaudits for its superb cuisine for years. The dishes are priced by weight, allowing you to try as many different options of the cold starter and hot main dishes as you like and the bill will still be reasonable. It is located in Kadikoy, at the end of a long and lively street full of fruit, vegetable and fish markets, as well as a number of other excellent no-frills restaurants.

Turkey's varied geography and climate mean it is self-sufficient in terms of food production so everything in Istanbul tastes fresh, especially the seafood/fish from the Bosphorus. In fact you can see rows and rows of locals fishing off the side of Galata Bridge every night, and in the evenings men carrying plates of mussels wander around the bar areas selling snacks to the locals.

Other restaurants worth trying include the Imbat Restaurant for its superb views over the Golden Horn, and the many restaurants and bars in Beyoglu area, Istanbul's liveliest area for nightlife  and home to many of the city's more upmarket eateries.  Most locals seem to prefer to eat outside in this area, so whilst the restaurants may look full, there is often space inside if you ask. The cozy-looking restaurant we chose appeared full, but as the waiter led us upstairs through a labyrinth of passageways and rooms to find us a table we felt like we were in the famous one-take club scene from Goodfellas.  A lot of dining space is important in Istanbul, as turnover is slow, with meals being lazy affairs punctuated by multiple rounds of ordering and raki.

 The street-food, in particular the kebabs, are also worth sampling. Lying just outside the Euro zone, the city currently represents good value for money. For foodies, as well as culture lovers, 2010 is a great year to visit Istanbul.

Cox & Kings offers a range of group and private holiday options in Istanbul. For luxury Turkey holidays see more>


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