FridayFiled under Reviews (Eats)
These days, writing about Istanbul’s old-school restaurants can be heartbreaking work. No sooner do we find out about a classic lunch spot than it turns out the place is about to be closed down to make way for yet another development project. Meanwhile, Istanbul’s relentless drive to modernize and “clean up” its streets has meant there is less and less room for traditional food vendors to operate. We weren’t surprised to learn that one of our favorite street food sellers, the bespectacled man who provided freshly peeled cucumbers by the Galata Tower, recently gave up his iconic perch after being relentlessly squeezed by the municipal authorities.
We were fully prepared, then, to be heartbroken yet again when we found İstiridye Balık Lokantası, a venerable fish restaurant, no longer at its decades-old location on Mumhane Caddesi, a street in the waterfront Karaköy area that has so many good restaurants along it that it acts as a kind of a culinary vortex, radiating a magnetic pull that we find hard to resist.
Fortunately, it turned out to be a false alarm. Rather than closed, the 80-year-old İstiridye had simply moved down the street. While the new space is smaller and brighter, lacking the clubby aura that the previous dark-wood-paneled location exuded, the dedicated clientele remains the same: a lunchtime crowd of local office workers and executives with exacting tastes. Karaköy, once a busy port area, remains a mostly commercial zone (though one that’s increasingly home to new galleries and hip cafes), with elegant buildings housing shipping and holding companies. The people who come to İstiridye expect the restaurant to serve food whose quality is consistent, because, it would appear, many of them seem to come here every day.
Read the rest of the review on Culinary Backstreets. The original review was published March 8, 2010, and has been updated.
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no responses - Posted 08.20.13
More so than any other district in Istanbul, Perşembe Pazarı – the city’s hardware zone – brings together what we love most about this city: thriving street life, hard-to-grasp commercial enterprises, remnants of history and, of course, excellent hidden spots to eat. A chickpea and pilaf cart is pushed past ...continue
no responses - Posted 05.23.13
Istanbul Eats, together with Caravansarai Art Space, is hosting a monthlong celebration of Perşembe Pazarı’s esnaf lokantaları (tradesmen’s restaurants) by launching a competition. And you are invited! The month of June is dedicated to revealing and enjoying the hidden (or sometimes very visible) treasures of Perşembe Pazarı, a hardware-selling neighborhood in ...continue
1 response - Posted 03.28.13
Editor’s note: We eagerly await the coming of spring each year, not just for the nicer weather but also because some of our favorite foods and dishes are at their best – or indeed, are only available – for a short period during this season. Here we take a look ...continue
1 response - Posted 02.04.13
One of the big downsides to Istanbul’s otherwise great food scene is the lack of a credible Mexican option. We’re not asking for anything special, just a place that serves simple, tasty tacos or burritos. But when the craving for Mexican gets strong, we don’t despair; we just head down ...continue
no responses - Posted 12.28.12
After four years of publishing weekly dispatches from Istanbul’s culinary backstreets, we are still regularly surprised by new discoveries, impressed by the staying power of old standards and shocked by how quickly so much can change. For better or for worse, it is that dynamism that Istanbulites line up for, ...continue
no responses - Posted 11.12.12
The arrival of fall in Istanbul usually means one thing for us: hamsi season is about to begin. Hamsi, of course, are the minuscule fish (Black Sea anchovies) that Istanbulites are mad about, and the coming of fall and the cooling of the waters of the Black Sea mark the beginning ...continue
6 responses - Posted 02.06.12
We generally wouldn’t recommend pulling yourself up into the back of a broken-down truck with no license plates that’s sitting in an empty lot down by the river, but Osman’s truck offers a rare glimpse of Istanbul if there really were no rules, and, not to mention, great views of ...continue
1 response - Posted 11.14.11
On a narrow alley just beyond the back gate of the Hırdavatçılar Çarşısı in Karaköy, we distinctly heard the bleat of a sheep. Turning the corner, we saw men wearing coveralls and vests with “Makita” stitched over the breast seated at low tables laughing through mouthfuls of flatbread. “Me-e-e-e-eh,” one ...continue
no responses - Posted 10.17.11
In the category of ambience, Köfteci Cemal scores high marks quite effortlessly. On a street of mostly demolished row shops down in Karaköy’s Perşembe Pazarı hardware market, Cemal makes his presence known with a bright yellow paint job and the word köfteci spray-painted on the front, back and sides of ...continue
1 response - Posted 05.30.11
(Editor’s Note: This guest post is by Jennifer Hattam, an American journalist living in Beyoğlu whose personal blog can be found here.) My first encounters with Turkish fish menus were nothing short of perplexing, and not because levrek (sea bass), çupra (sea bream), kalkan (turbot) and the like were such unfamiliar ...continue