Think of Ramadan as a kind of month-long biathalon that consists of an all-day race to beat back the hunger and thirst of fasting, followed by an all-night marathon of eating and drinking in order to fortify the body for the next day’s fast. In recent years in Turkey, iftar, the traditional break fast meal that used to mostly consist of some dates and a freshly baked round of Ramadan pide (pictured here), has started to become an increasingly trendy affair, with ministers, businessmen and anyone trying to make an impression hosting evermore lavish ones.
Still, even if you’re not fasting, a traditional iftar meal at the right place remains a unique and tasty window into life during the Ramadan period. Below is a list of recommended spots for iftar in Istanbul (note – all highly recommend making reservations):
This upscalish restaurant near the lovely Chora Church prides itself on its devotion to cooking according to ancient Ottoman recipes. For whatever reason, we’ve usually found the place uncomfortably devoid of customers during most of the year, but during Ramadan Asitane fills up with fast breakers looking for an Ottoman-style iftar. The restaurant’s garden is a particularly pleasant place to spend the evening.
Fixed menu 65 TL
Address: Kariye Camii Sokak No: 6, Edirnekapı, İstanbul
Tel: (212) 635-7997
Although no excuse is needed to visit this well-known spot, one of our favorite restaurants in Istanbul, during Ramadan they are serving up a special iftar menu which, like the restaurant’s regular menu, will likely change daily and feature lesser
known regional specialties from around Turkey. Highly recommeneded.
Fixed menu 45 TL
Address: Guneslibahce Sokak 43, Kadiköy
Located in the Asian sides’ Uskudar neighborhood, this classic restaurant is an esnaf lokanta (tradesmen’s cafeteria) that has grown into something bigger and classier, with an almost overwhelming selection of very nicely made prepared dishes served from what seems like a mile-long steam table.
A la carte
Address: Selmanipak cd. No:9 Üsküdar İstanbul
Tel: (216) 341-5444
Unlike Kanaat, Şahin has remained a humble, yet bustling, esnaf lokanta, with two small floors and a smaller menu of classic dishes prepared with a lot of love. It’s another one of our favorite places in town.
A la carte
Address: Orhan Adli Apaydın Sk. No:11/A, Beyoglu, Istanbul
Phone: (212) 244-2543
Istanbul’s Eyup neighborhood and its complex of mosques and mausoleums is a major pilgrimage site and a favorite spot for families who want to have an outdoor iftar. During Ramadan, the historic neighborhood has an almost carnival like atmosphere after sundown. Sultanzade Sofrası, a restaurant serving food from the Hatay region and overlooking Eyup’s main square, is a great perch from which to take in the neighborhood’s iftar vibe.
“Luxury” iftar menu, 35 TL
limited menu, 26 TL
Address: Kalenderhane Cad. No: 35/ 3, Eyüp-İstanbul.
Tel: (212) 615-34 55