Editor’s note: This feature is the first piece in a series covering locally owned neighborhood eateries that offer an alternative to the food courts and chain restaurants in Istanbul’s most popular shopping malls. We’ll be digging into the streets around Cevahir and Akmerkez malls next. Please send us your tips, anti-mallrats!
With the brutally forceful clearing of Gezi Park of its temporary inhabitants by Turkish police, the recent protests in Istanbul  have lost the imposing physical presence that, incredibly, lasted for two weeks. These days, protestors are tossing ideas onto social media walls to see what might stick. To keep the resistance alive, we’ve been urged, via Facebook, to take part in all sorts of acts, passive and active, madcap and practical. But the one that really struck a chord with us is a campaign not to spend any money in shopping malls, not to even enter shopping malls, and to spend only what we must at small, local shops. Boycott the mall? Now, that’s a battle we’ve been waging since the late 1980s.
We feel for the local tailors and small health food markets that are threatened by the Gap and GNC, but our cause is in the food court, where Colonel Sanders is rattling his saber at the local eateries that have been feeding Istanbul neighborhoods for generations. To assist readers in resisting the temptation to stop in for a quick bite of fast food, we’ve spent the past week grazing in the side streets around a few of the city’s largest malls. We have good news to share: there is much to eat beyond the food court. We start with a guide to supporting the small esnaf (tradespeople) in the shadows of Demirören, the goliath mall on İstiklal Caddesi.
The rest of this new feature can be found on CulinaryBackstreets.com, here .