Join Culinary Backstreets

Sign up with email

or

Already a member? Log in.

Log in to Culinary Backstreets

Trouble logging in?

Not a member? Sign up!

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Turkey’s European Union membership bid may be stuck in the mud, but a different dynamic is at work on the food front. To wit: the European Commission has granted Gaziantep baklava a spot on its list of protected designations of origin and geographical indications. It’s the first Turkish product and the 16th non-EU food to make it on the list. In honor of this much-deserved recognition, we’ve put together our own list of favorite places to get baklava in Istanbul and Gaziantep.

1. Karaköy Güllüoğlu

Karaköy Güllüoğlu, photo by Monique Jaques

Located a stone’s throw from the Bosphorus, this shop has been catering to Istanbul sweet tooths since 1949. Done up in borderline tacky décor that looks like it is meant to evoke late Ottoman splendor, the place serves more than a dozen different kinds of phyllo-based sweets, including pistachio or walnut baklava, none of them resembling the cardboard-like, past-their-prime versions that are often dished out outside the Middle East.

2. İmam Çağdaş 

İmam Çağdaş, photo by Yigal Schleifer

Founded in 1887, this kebab and baklava emporium in Gaziantep is run by Burhan Çağdaş, the grandson of İmam Dede. To best enjoy the shop’s exceptional pastry, he recommends forgoing knife and fork, taking it between two fingers and placing it upside-down before taking a bite.

3. Antebi

Antebi, photo by Ansel Mullins

The Gaziantep-style kebab restaurant on Istanbul’s Asian side serves a sweet flaky pastry bussed 850 miles straight in from Zeki İnal Baklavacısı in the baklava motherland. It’s available only on Saturdays and Sundays. Be sure to call ahead to make sure that a shipment is coming.

4. Rumeli Tatlı ve Börek Evi

Rumeli Tatlı ve Börek Evi, by Meliz

At this tiny place, just a block or two from the Hippodrome in the Sultanahmet, the pastry is crispy on top, overstuffed with walnuts, and the syrup-soaked layers on the bottom never have time to turn into the chewy wad that one sometimes gets with mass-produced baklava. Rumeli baklava is so special that it is accepted currency among many in the bazaar (especially for payment of debts incurred over backgammon or pişti).

5. Sakarya Tatlıcısı

Ayva tatlısı at Sakarya Tatlıcısı, photo by Yigal Schleifer

Nestled in Beyoğlu’s historic fish market, this pastry and sweets shop with its Old World charm is one of our favorites for not just ayva tatlısı, the seasonal fall specialty of quince in syrup, but also baklava and other traditional desserts. Although most people breeze into the shop and get their dessert to go, we prefer to sit down at one of Sakarya’s two tables, order a tea with our dessert and take in the atmosphere of the fish market.

6. Bizim Ev

Bizim Ev, photo by Meliz

The baklava at this storefront on one of the arcaded stretches of Moda Caddesi is worth a trip on the ferry and up the hill to Kadıköy. And while you’re there, you should also get the Laz böreği: layers of yufka (phyllo), buttery and moist, dusted with confectioner’s sugar, in a symbiotic balance with the custard, which is neither too sweet, nor too eggy, neither too runny, nor too stiff. Just right.

Related stories

February 28, 2015

CB on the Road: Join Us in Gaziantep!

By Istanbul Eats
Istanbul -- We are very happy to announce that in May we’ll be offering a springtime edition of “Culinary Secrets of Gaziantep,” our three-day eating and hands-on cooking adventure in Turkey’s gastronomic mecca. An ancient city not far from Turkey’s southern border, a meeting point between the Arab Middle East and Turkish Anatolia, Gaziantep over the centuries…
March 1, 2013

Phaleron: Athens’ Culinary Museum of Innocence

By Nicolas Nicolaides
Athens -- Editor’s note: This guest feature was written by Nicolas Nicolaides, an Istanbul-born Greek who moved to Athens in 1988. Nicolaides is a Ph.D. student in history at the University of Athens whose research focuses on the Karamanlılar (Greeks from Central Anatolia). Once a resort town on the outskirts of the Greek capital, Phaleron – only…
May 2, 2014

CB on the Road: Getting Souped Up at Gaziantep's Metanet

By Istanbul Eats
Istanbul -- It is impossible to sleep late in Gaziantep, despite the tranquility of the historic quarter, the calming, hunker-in-and-go-back-to-sleep effect of the hotel room’s thick stone walls and the comforting, dusty smell of antique furniture. Even the promise of a nice breakfast spread served between 7:30 and 10 a.m. could not keep us from hitting this…