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Book now    Give as a gift    US$125/adult
  • 2-7 people Beyoğlu ~5.5 hours 9:30am;  5pm
     Everyday

Quick bite: With Beyoğlu’s cosmopolitan history as a backdrop, on this walk we will eat our way through the classic and unknown eateries of the neighborhood, the old and the new, tasting specialties from all over Turkey. 

Until recently, Greek, Armenian and Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) were the languages spoken in most kitchens in Istanbul’s historic district of Beyoğlu. Though the old cosmopolitans who populated the belle époque apartment buildings of Istanbul’s “European Quarter” have largely been replaced by a vibrant blend of rural Anatolians and global bohemians, hidden traces of these unique cultures remain, creating a very unique dining culture – at once rough and refined.

With Beyoğlu’s cosmopolitan history as a backdrop, on this walk we will eat our way through the classic and unknown eateries of the neighborhood, the old and the new, tasting specialties from all over Turkey.

Beginning with a selection of specialties in a timeless neighborhood lokanta, we’ll visit a pickle-maker and other artisans. Winding our way through the district’s atmospheric side streets, there will be specialties from across the country, ranging from the far Northeast on the Black Sea to the distinct cuisine of Hatay in the Southeast. We’ll visit a hidden Armenian church inside a bustling fish market between samplings at street vendors fishmongers and grill joints and, finally, the we’ll treat ourselves to the best Turkish coffee in the city. Depending on the day and what the walk comes across, there will be several other culinary surprises along the way, all of them telling the fascinating tale of what is perhaps Istanbul’s most iconic neighborhood.

Fee includes everything consumed on the walk.  Some special features:

Explores a residential neighborhood Sometimes includes a home-visit.
Includes a market visit Best route for vegetarians. Can be modified for vegans.
Can be modified for gluten-fee No pork served on the walk
Very easy terrain.  Best route for strollers. Alcohol served in the evening route

What is included in the fee?

In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk – almost a dozen different edible specialties – are included in the price.

Why is the Culinary Backstreet tour more expensive than some other walking tours?

Our approach is different than most tour companies. Each of our culinary walks is the outcome of considerable research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our ongoing publishing of articles, from restaurant reviews to features about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new material into the culinary walks, so they evolve and constantly improve. Though costly, we believe that this is how to create the quality experiences we strive for.

We practice honest tourism  and would never accept a free lunch or any sort of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses that we believe in, helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities we love so dearly.

What is the payment process?

We require a $50 per person deposit to complete the online booking. Then, we accept the remaining $75 per person in cash (USD, Euro, or Turkish lira) on the day of the walk.  If at any time you want to pay for your balance electronically, please just click ‘view booking’ on your confirmation email and there is an option to ‘pay balance’.

What is your cancellation policy?

100% will be refunded if given 1 week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more.

Are your walks public or private? How many people are on them?

Our walks are 2-7 people and are open to the public. If you would like to do a private walk, we may be able to arrange one for an additional fee. Please contact us at [email protected] for more information.

Can I get a discount if I join more than one walk?

Yes, we offer a 10% discount to those who join more than one walk. Please email us at [email protected] if you’d like to join multiple walks.

Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies?

This can vary based on a number of factors, including the food item in question. Please email us at [email protected] to discuss your situation before booking.

Are your walks suitable for vegetarians and pescetarians?

We recommend this walk for vegeterians , as it gives us the most flexibility in terms of substitutions.

Are your walks suitable for a gluten free diet? 

Gluten free is difficult in Turkey as many of the dishes are wheat based. We can accommodate a gluten free diet on our Hidden Beyoglu walk, but there are a few stops that gluten free participants may need to opt out of.

Is alcohol served on the walk?

No.

Is the food offered on the walks halal?

This is difficult to answer. In Turkey the halal certification process is relatively new, so though many butchers are halal they may not be certified and though many restaurants use halal products they may not advertise or even recognize it. Because of this, we cannot confidently say that all of the food is halal.

How physically demanding are the walks?

The walks are all about 2KM (1.25 miles) of fairly flat terrain. The streets and sidewalks of Istanbul can be a bit unpredictable so we recommend good walking shoes. All our walks include numerous breaks along the way.  We recommend this walk for those with some mobility issues.

Can children join the walks?

Of course! But please note that Istanbul’s streets – narrow, uneven and often lacking a sidewalk – can be challenging with a stroller.

We offer a 50% discount to children 12 years old and younger. We do not charge for children 6 and under.

Do you offer walks during Ramazan?

We do offer this walk during Ramazan and many local holidays.

Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return, once the tour is over?

Our tour prices don’t include transportation. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own.

Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.

How much food will I get to try?

This is really up to you. We generally make between 9 and 12 eating stops on our walk and try to include some breaks from eating along the way. The price includes as much food as you’re open to trying. We offer a suggested portion size at each stop and you can take our recommendation if you’d like. Our walks often involve street food and sharing food.

Still have questions? Please email us at [email protected].

Route maps are for planning purposes only.  A detailed confirmation email will be sent upon booking with actual meeting point of your walk.

MAPA ISTAMBUL-04

turkish wine

Grape Expectations

Turkish wine is something of a paradox. Despite being one of the oldest winemaking countries on earth, Turkey is by no means a big wine-drinking country. Go to any bar or meyhane in Istanbul and you’re more likely to see people guzzling large pints of frothy beer or swirling delicate glasses containing cloudy rakı. April 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in ExileFebruary 11, 2013 Mustafa Amca (0)    Posted in IstanbulMay 26, 2017 Taralli (0) Posted in Naples

Ozzie’s Kokoreç

It’s just shy of noon when we step into the new location of Ozzie’s Kokoreç in Istanbul’s Asmalımescit neighborhood. Proprietor and usta Oğuzhan Sayı and his wife Gizem are preparing for another busy day in their compact, sharply-designed new restaurant. May 23, 2017 Mahir Lokantası (0) Posted in IstanbulApril 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in ExileJune 14, 2017 Friggitoria Masardona (0) Posted in Naples

Hayata Sarıl Lokantası

It’s dinnertime and every table is full at Hayata Sarıl Lokantası, a cozy restaurant with crisp white walls, a patterned-tile floor, and cheery flowers on the café-style tables. “Are you going to serve that sometime tonight?” a floor manager barks sarcastically into the cramped kitchen, where black-apron-clad servers scramble to fill new plates while a tiny dishwasher churns through the old ones, steaming up the room like a sauna on an already sultry Istanbul summer night. April 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in ExileAugust 23, 2012 Köfteci Hüseyin (0) Posted in IstanbulAugust 10, 2012 Istanbul’s Top Street Foods, Part 1 (0) Posted in Istanbul

Dose & Istos Café

A café at its best is so much more than the sum of its parts: it’s a place where people can easily mingle, share ideas, and dertleşmek, or commiserate over their troubles, all while imbibing caffeine. At the same time, it’s a place where visitors might feel an invisible thread of common beliefs connecting them, an unspoken camaraderie, even if they don’t socialize with anyone. May 23, 2017 Mahir Lokantası (0) Posted in IstanbulMay 30, 2018 Kapnikarea (0) Posted in AthensJune 13, 2017 Out of Sight (0) Posted in Athens

Kenan Usta Ocakbaşı

If Istanbul had a city museum, in the 20th-century exhibition we’d expect to walk into a life-sized recreation of Kenan Usta Ocakbaşı, a seminal grill joint in the Beyoğlu district. May 18, 2017 El Bisaura (0) Posted in BarcelonaMay 18, 2015 Kenan Usta Ocakbaşı (0) Posted in IstanbulApril 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in Exile

Fry Days

The assumption that falafel is a Turkish staple is a misunderstanding of global proportions. Perhaps this mix-up is due to its appearance on the menu of what seems like every Turkish restaurant outside of the country. Yet for years falafel has been largely absent from Turkey. June 14, 2017 Friggitoria Masardona (0) Posted in NaplesMay 15, 2017 Biscoito Globo (0) Posted in RioApril 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in Exile

Ramadan’s Iftar

Think of Ramadan, which just began in many parts of the world, as a kind of monthlong biathlon 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. July 9, 2014 Ramadan’s Iftar (0)   Posted in IstanbulJune 22, 2015 Ramadan’s Iftar (0) Posted in IstanbulMay 23, 2017 Mahir Lokantası (0) Posted in Istanbul

Fıccın

When Leyla Kılıç Karakaynak opened up a tiny restaurant on Kallavi Street in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district in 1996, she couldn’t have predicted that she would end up practically running the whole street. April 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in ExileMay 23, 2017 Mahir Lokantası (0) Posted in IstanbulMay 8, 2017 Kondo Honten (0) Posted in Tokyo

Lakerda

The fatty torik – the Turkish name for a large, mature Atlantic bonito, similar to the little tunny – courses the straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles for just a short period each year in November and December. February 10, 2015 Lakerda (0) Posted in IstanbulMay 18, 2017 El Bisaura (0) Posted in BarcelonaJune 7, 2017 Queens International Night Market (0) Posted in Queens

Asır

Editor’s Note: The recent string of terror attacks in Istanbul has left us heartbroken over the violent cruelty being inflicted on the city we love. It has also made us more determined to tell the stories of places like the one in this review, veteran establishments that have seen Istanbul go through both good and bad times and which speak of this city’s incredible resilience. April 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in ExileJanuary 7, 2015 İsmail Amca’s Menemen (0)   Posted in IstanbulNovember 12, 2012 Hamsi (7) Posted in Istanbul

Pickles for Generations

Pickles are serious business in this shop, which has been passed down from generation to generation. An unusual, surprisingly delicious selection of pickled fruits and veggies are often encountered on our Istanbul walks.   May 23, 2017 Scenes from the Old City (0) We spotted this jubilant fellow on our Old City walk in Istanbul trying to sell his […] Posted in IstanbulMay 2, 2017 Seasonal Strawberries in Tbilisi (0) Flashback to the end of March, when we encountered the first strawberries of the season […] Posted in TbilisiJune 8, 2017 The Freshest Catch at an Athens Taverna (0) Kolias Taverna proudly displays its fresh fish and seafood offerings. Tavernas and […] Posted in Athens

Ali Usta’s Çig Köfte: When Meatless Meatballs Sell Like Hotcakes

Locals are crazy for Ali Usta’s çiğ köfte. Ali Usta is a delicious character who has his tiny shop in the backstreets of Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar. Çiğ köfte made with bulgur, herbs and spices suits every vegetarian’s palate if one can eat hot, spicy food. This huge container is empty by late afternoon. Be there on time! A favorite stop on our Bazaar quarter tour. May 23, 2017 Scenes from the Old City (0) We spotted this jubilant fellow on our Old City walk in Istanbul trying to sell his […] Posted in IstanbulMay 2, 2017 Seasonal Strawberries in Tbilisi (0) Flashback to the end of March, when we encountered the first strawberries of the season […] Posted in TbilisiMay 26, 2017 Sightly Seafood at a Tokyo Fish Market (0) Wonderful spreads of the freshest catches are among the swirling array of visual […] Posted in Tokyo

Hayvore

The Black Sea area is Turkey’s culinary misfit; it’s not really about kebabs or mezes. If anything, the food—cornbread, collard greens, smoky bean stews—seems to have been mysteriously transplanted from the American Deep South. It’s simple, filling, down-home food, and Hayvore is a great—and affordable—spot to get acquainted with it. May 25, 2017 Atila del Sur Comedor (0) Posted in OaxacaMay 23, 2017 Mahir Lokantası (0) Posted in IstanbulOctober 22, 2012 Klemuri (1) Posted in Istanbul

Easter in Istanbul

In the Istanbul neighborhood of Kurtuluş, which is home to a large Armenian population, a number of shops are decorated on account of Easter, and the smell of traditional sakızlı Paskalya çöreği–puffy loaves of ever-so-slightly sweet bread baked with mastic gum–is thick in the air. May 23, 2017 Scenes from the Old City (0) We spotted this jubilant fellow on our Old City walk in Istanbul trying to sell his […] Posted in IstanbulMay 16, 2017 Mornings in Barcelona (0) Mornings in Barcelona start with a strong “tallat” coffee and “pa amb tomàquet” (bread […] Posted in BarcelonaMay 26, 2017 Sightly Seafood at a Tokyo Fish Market (0) Wonderful spreads of the freshest catches are among the swirling array of visual […] Posted in Tokyo

Hidden Beyoğlu

Mari

Editor’s note: We regret to report that Mari, which was run by the former chef and owners of Mekan, has now closed.  May 9, 2017 Arsi’s Pateseria (0) Posted in QueensMay 25, 2017 Atila del Sur Comedor (0) Posted in OaxacaFebruary 10, 2017 Lakerda (0) Posted in Istanbul

Farewell, Yorgo

On any given night, bustling, narrow Nevizade Street in the heart of Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district buzzes with thick crowds of evening revelers searching for the best table while clean-shaven waiters in their customary uniform of pressed white shirts and V-neck sweaters attempt to lure the crowds into their establishments. February 10, 2017 Lakerda (0) Posted in IstanbulFebruary 10, 2015 Lakerda (0) Posted in IstanbulNovember 12, 2012 Hamsi (7) Posted in Istanbul

Kelle

Don’t people just love to fight about food? Punch-ups over which city makes the best pizza, brawls about what’s the right way to barbecue. Louis and Ella nearly called the whole thing off over the pronunciation of the word “tomato.” June 14, 2017 Friggitoria Masardona (0) Posted in NaplesJune 2, 2017 In Vienna, a Dying Breed of Butcher (0) Posted in ElsewhereMay 26, 2017 Taralli (0) Posted in Naples

Ramadan’s Iftar

Think of Ramadan, which just began in many parts of the world, as a kind of monthlong biathlon 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. July 9, 2014 Ramadan’s Iftar (0)   Posted in IstanbulJune 8, 2017 Ramadan’s Iftar (0) Posted in IstanbulJune 7, 2018 Fast Food (0) Posted in Istanbul

Van Kahvaltı Evi

In Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish eastern provinces, breakfast is not just for breakfast anymore. May 26, 2017 Taralli (0) Posted in NaplesJune 2, 2017 In Vienna, a Dying Breed of Butcher (0) Posted in ElsewhereJanuary 17, 2014 Cuma (0) Posted in Istanbul

Kenan Usta Ocakbaşı

If Istanbul had a city museum, in the 20th-century exhibition we’d expect to walk into a life-sized recreation of Kenan Usta Ocakbaşı, a seminal grill joint in the Beyoğlu district. September 14, 2017 Kenan Usta Ocakbaşı (0) Posted in IstanbulMay 18, 2017 El Bisaura (0) Posted in BarcelonaMarch 6, 2014 Grills and Thrills (2) If there are an estimated 17 million souls in Istanbul, then there are at least that […] Posted in Istanbul

Lakerda

The fatty torik – the Turkish name for a large, mature Atlantic bonito, similar to the little tunny – courses the straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles for just a short period each year in November and December. February 10, 2017 Lakerda (0) Posted in IstanbulMay 18, 2017 El Bisaura (0) Posted in BarcelonaJune 7, 2017 Queens International Night Market (0) Posted in Queens

Bean Week

Editor’s note: Readers protested vigorously when they saw that we had left Ali Baba off our list, so we’ve put him back on the list, by popular demand. May 26, 2017 Taralli (0) Posted in NaplesApril 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in ExileJanuary 18, 2013 Istanbul’s Top 5 Beaneries (3) Posted in Istanbul

İsmail Amca’s Menemen

Times are changing in Tarlabaşı, one of the most culturally diverse, interesting and occasionally dangerous neighborhoods of Istanbul. April 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in ExileJanuary 2, 2017 Asır (0) Posted in IstanbulMay 11, 2017 Angola in Lisbon: Go Deep (0) Posted in Lisbon

Murat Kelle Paça

Editor’s note: It’s Soup Week at Culinary Backstreets, and to kick things off, our Istanbul correspondent takes us to an eatery in Beyoğlu whose hearty broths refuel late-night revelers and daytime workers alike. May 12, 2017 La Gaspacheria (0) Posted in Mexico CityMay 29, 2017 Suju Dining Rokkaku (0) Posted in TokyoApril 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in Exile

Farooj al Zaeem

Farooj al Zaeem is, pretty much, the best kind of restaurant made to resemble the worst kind of restaurant. If the neighborhood – one of Beyoğlu’s most unkempt snatches – doesn’t send you running, then the look of this place, like a knockoff polo shirt with misspellings, will signal that something here is not right. April 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in ExileMay 23, 2017 Mahir Lokantası (0) Posted in IstanbulMay 23, 2017 Scenes from the Old City (0) We spotted this jubilant fellow on our Old City walk in Istanbul trying to sell his […] Posted in Istanbul

Meşhur Tarihi Kalkanoğlu Pilavcısı

The brothers Altu and Erol Aslan, who operate the Yeni Melek corner store on Ayhan Işık Sokak in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu neighborhood, have a legitimate complaint against their next-door neighbor, Tarihi Kalkanoğlu Pilavcısı. April 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in ExileJanuary 30, 2015 Bean Week (4) Posted in IstanbulMay 23, 2017 Mahir Lokantası (0) Posted in Istanbul

Gastronomika

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? In fact, over at Gastronomika, a new Istanbul culinary project, the food is served not only free of charge but also with an intriguing – and ambitious – backstory. April 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in ExileMay 26, 2017 Taralli (0) Posted in NaplesJune 20, 2013 Mall Busters: Istanbul Beyond the Food Court (1) Posted in Istanbul

Mandabatmaz

It’s a dirty secret nobody wants to talk about, but let’s put it out there: finding a good cup of Turkish coffee in Turkey can sometimes be very difficult. May 23, 2017 Mahir Lokantası (0) Posted in IstanbulJanuary 31, 2019 Mocha Arabica (0) Posted in IstanbulJune 4, 2013 Ask CB: Local Cafés in Barcelona? (1) Posted in Barcelona

Ramadan’s Iftar

Think of Ramadan, which began in late June in many parts of the world, as a kind of monthlong biathlon 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. June 22, 2015 Ramadan’s Iftar (0) Posted in IstanbulJune 8, 2017 Ramadan’s Iftar (0) Posted in IstanbulJune 7, 2018 Fast Food (0) Posted in Istanbul

Çukur Meyhane

Editor’s note: The departure of Aret, our favorite garson in the city, had us reconsidering our love of this little cubbyhole meyhane where we’ve spent so many nights over the years. March 18, 2013 Çukur Meyhane (2) It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Meg Ryan’s big moment at Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met […] Posted in IstanbulNovember 26, 2012 Asmalı Cavit (0) Posted in IstanbulNovember 12, 2012 Hamsi (7) Posted in Istanbul

Spring (Food) Break 2014

With all of the anticipation of local elections in March, the scandalous graft-laden tapes leaked via social media, the communication fog brought on by the ban of Twitter and YouTube and the subsequent call for a vote recount in many cities, this city’s stomach had good reason to be distracted. But one cannot survive on a diet of daily news alone. In case you all forgot, Spring is here. March 28, 2013 Spring (Food) Break 2013: Istanbul (0) Posted in IstanbulDecember 28, 2012 Best Bites of 2012: Istanbul (0) Posted in IstanbulMarch 30, 2019 Spring in Athens (0) Posted in Athens

Grills and Thrills

If there are an estimated 17 million souls in Istanbul, then there are at least that many opinions on the best kebab house in town. There are stodgy oak-paneled rooms with country-club appeal, where well-dressed businessmen marvel at heaping plates of delicious grilled meat. And there are 24/7 hole-in-the-walls, where lines form out the door for kebab that is just as tasty and expertly cooked. June 12, 2017 Goat Cheese and Fried Honeybees (0) Posted in ShanghaiMay 18, 2017 El Bisaura (0) Posted in BarcelonaDecember 23, 2013 Best Bites of 2013 (0) Posted in Istanbul

Barba

Editor’s note: [We’re pleased to report that Barba has reopened in a new location. See below for address.] We’re going on a Global Bar Crawl this week, and today we’re stopping at a building in Istanbul that has five floors of bars and clubs. Tomorrow we head to Mexico City for some mezcal. June 6, 2017 Ushitora (0) Posted in TokyoJune 13, 2017 Out of Sight (0) Posted in AthensAugust 26, 2016 Behind Bars (0) Posted in Istanbul

Zübeyir

Finding a kebab restaurant in Istanbul is not hard. There must be thousands of them. But finding the right kind of place, especially if you want to make it a bit more of a meal, can be surprisingly difficult. May 18, 2017 El Bisaura (0) Posted in BarcelonaMarch 6, 2014 Grills and Thrills (2) If there are an estimated 17 million souls in Istanbul, then there are at least that […] Posted in IstanbulAugust 14, 2012 Beyoğlu Öğretmenevi (0) Posted in Istanbul

Antiochia

In Istanbul, we’ve noted an inverse relationship between a restaurant’s atmosphere and what’s coming out of the kitchen. In most cases, as furniture design goes slick, as bathrooms get properly lit and ventilated, as the wait staff becomes customer-savvy, the quality of the kitchen inevitably goes down. May 18, 2017 El Bisaura (0) Posted in BarcelonaJanuary 17, 2018 Hot Ticket to Hatay (0) Posted in IstanbulJuly 2, 2013 Hatay Has Kral Sofrası (0) Posted in Istanbul

Dürümzade

Istanbul’s after-midnight dining options tend to be of the offal variety – tripe soup, chopped lamb’s intestines – thought to be curatives after a night of hard drinking. Luckily, not all late-night eats in the city involve innards. At Dürümzade – a grill joint positioned right on the fringe of the rowdy, bar-lined streets of the Beyoğlu’s fish market – we’ve found a dürüm, or Turkish wrap, that’s equally satisfying at 2 a.m. or 2 p.m. May 18, 2017 El Bisaura (0) Posted in BarcelonaDecember 15, 2015 Best Bites 2015 (0) Posted in IstanbulSeptember 21, 2012 The Grand Bazaar Eats (0) Posted in Istanbul

Cuma

Editor’s note: Our last dispatch for Breakfast Week takes us to a charming spot in Beyoğlu, where followers of Istanbul’s two competing schools of breakfast can enjoy their morning meals side by side. May 27, 2015 Van Kahvaltı Evi (0) Posted in IstanbulJanuary 14, 2013 On the Anchovy Trail (0) Posted in IstanbulOctober 22, 2012 Klemuri (1) Posted in Istanbul

Best Bites of 2013

Editor’s note: This is the final installment of “Best Bites of 2013,” a roundup of our top culinary experiences over the last year. Be sure to check out the “best bites” in all the other cities CB covers. Breakfast in Erzincan We were strangers in a strange land – eastern Turkey’s Erzincan, to be exact – and Yalçın Kaya welcomed us into his cheese shop with such gracious fervor that it didn’t surprise us to find out that this Anatolian cheesemonger moonlights as an imam. March 6, 2014 Grills and Thrills (2) If there are an estimated 17 million souls in Istanbul, then there are at least that […] Posted in IstanbulMay 26, 2017 Taralli (0) Posted in NaplesJune 8, 2017 Ramadan’s Iftar (0) Posted in Istanbul

Yeni Lokanta

It is puzzling that Istanbul, a city of some 15 million people with an increasingly lavish lifestyle, a world-famous cuisine and a booming tourism industry, has so little sparkle when it comes to fine dining. We’re surprised that the Prime Minister himself has not jumped into the culinary scrum by demanding no fewer than three Michelin stars from every restaurant. The city still has yet to answer with one. June 20, 2013 Mall Busters: Istanbul Beyond the Food Court (1) Posted in IstanbulApril 28, 2017 Saruja (0) Posted in Istanbul, The Syrian Kitchen in ExileOctober 29, 2018 Ozzie’s Kokoreç (0) Posted in Istanbul

Mall Busters: Istanbul Beyond the Food Court

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. July 27, 2012 Lades 2 (0) The no-frills Lades 2 presents diners with that age-old question: what to eat first, the […] Posted in IstanbulAugust 20, 2013 Perşembe Pazarı: The Nuts & Bolts of Eating in Istanbul’s Hardware District (0) More so than any other district in Istanbul, Perşembe Pazarı – the city’s hardware zone […] Posted in IstanbulOctober 17, 2013 Gülebru Kantin (3) Posted in Istanbul

Drinking Culture: Tapping the Ayran (Powder) Keg

Editor’s note: While the fate of the Gezi Park occupation is being hotly discussed, we’ve been spending our time sipping deeper into Turkey’s other great debate: what is the country’s national drink? In the spirit of national reconciliation, here is our report. The recent protests that raged across Turkey may have been sparked by the government’s ham-fisted efforts to bulldoze a precious stand of trees in Istanbul’s Gezi Park, but the country’s eaters and drinkers had already gotten a taste of Ankara’s increasingly meddlesome overreach during the weeks and months before. May 23, 2017 Mahir Lokantası (0) Posted in IstanbulMarch 8, 2013 Gazoz: Turkish Fizzardry (0)   Posted in IstanbulAugust 28, 2017 Fry Days (0) Posted in Istanbul

Perazin

In an opinion piece published recently in the Latitude blog of The New York Times, veteran Turkey correspondent Andrew Finkel’s brutally honest appraisal of the state of “New Turkish Cuisine” called much of Istanbul’s restaurant establishment – down to the customers – into question. We’ve had similar misgivings after meals in some upscale nouveau meyhanes where fussy food and too much attention to interior design end up spoiling an atmosphere that is supposed to be fun. November 26, 2012 Asmalı Cavit (0) Posted in IstanbulMarch 18, 2013 Çukur Meyhane (2) It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Meg Ryan’s big moment at Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met […] Posted in IstanbulMay 29, 2014 Çukur Meyhane (0) Editor’s note: The departure of Aret, our favorite garson in the city, had us […] Posted in Istanbul

Spring (Food) Break 2013: Istanbul

Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment of “Spring (Food) Break 2013,” featuring our favorite foods of the spring season in each city Culinary Backstreets covers. This year’s Nevruz celebration, an ancient welcoming of spring, may be remembered for its political significance in which a peace deal was struck between Turkish leaders and Kurdish rebels. But once the shoulder-shrugging, line-dancing, fire-jumping and ululating are over, the real bounty of the season will continue to be celebrated all over Turkey and in many Istanbul restaurants, from the chic to the shabby. April 16, 2014 Spring (Food) Break 2014 (0) Posted in IstanbulDecember 28, 2012 Best Bites of 2012: Istanbul (0) Posted in IstanbulMarch 25, 2013 Spring (Food) Break 2013: Athens (1) Posted in Athens

Çukur Meyhane

It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Meg Ryan’s big moment at Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met Sally, but a low-register, guttural moan of pleasure was detected from our table when we tasted the shredded celery root in yogurt, a house specialty meze at Çukur Meyhane. And we weren’t faking it. May 29, 2014 Çukur Meyhane (0) Editor’s note: The departure of Aret, our favorite garson in the city, had us […] Posted in IstanbulNovember 26, 2012 Asmalı Cavit (0) Posted in IstanbulApril 15, 2013 Perazin (0) Posted in Istanbul

Gazoz: Turkish Fizzardry

In a 2003 TV commercial for Cola Turka, the actor Chevy Chase was seen speaking Turkish and then sporting a moustache, after taking just one sip of the intended challenger of Coke in this country. This sensational ad – which riffed on the old theme of American cultural imperialism through its number-one agent, Coca-Cola – was the first time that Turkish soft drinks caught our attention. June 14, 2013 Drinking Culture: Tapping the Ayran (Powder) Keg (8) Posted in IstanbulNovember 11, 2015 The Salepçi of Sütçüler (0) By the name of the place, you’d expect the Sütçüler (“Milkmen” in English) district near […] Posted in IstanbulAugust 7, 2015 Ask CB (0) Posted in Mexico City

Istanbul’s Burger Battle Goes International

As chronicled by Istanbul Eats, the Tünel end of Istanbul’s famed İstiklal boulevard was some two years ago the site of a heated burger war. It all started when a former Turkish basketball-player-turned-restaurateur who had spent time studying in California opened up Mano Burger, a mostly successful recreation of the kind of burger joints the owner frequented in the United States. June 14, 2013 Drinking Culture: Tapping the Ayran (Powder) Keg (8) Posted in IstanbulJune 7, 2017 Queens International Night Market (0) Posted in QueensOctober 29, 2015 Farewell, Yorgo (0) On any given night, bustling, narrow Nevizade Street in the heart of Istanbul’s Beyoğlu […] Posted in Istanbul

Mustafa Amca

The Turkish proverb “At, avrat, silah ödünç verilmez” (“neither horse, wife nor weapon should be lent”) is sometimes repeated as a way to recall the nomadic warrior past of the Turks. The primal Turkish essentials are clearly stated, but what about the çay bardağı, the tea glass that has become such a ubiquitous Turkish icon? November 16, 2018 Grape Expectations (1) Posted in IstanbulMay 23, 2017 Mahir Lokantası (0) Posted in IstanbulMarch 18, 2013 Çukur Meyhane (2) It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Meg Ryan’s big moment at Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met […] Posted in Istanbul

Asmalı Cavit

We can’t prove it, but we suspect a network of tunnels lies underground in Beyoğlu that connects most of the meyhanes of Asmalımescit and Nevizade Sokak to the same mediocre kitchen, resulting in unexceptional mezes at scores of venues in this dining district. Following a number of tips, our search for a standout meyhane led us to the unassuming Asmalı Cavit on Asmalımescit Caddesi, where we’ve consistently had outstanding food. This traditional meyhane bucks the trend toward mediocrity with subtle but significant tweaks that, for us, make the meal. May 29, 2014 Çukur Meyhane (0) Editor’s note: The departure of Aret, our favorite garson in the city, had us […] Posted in IstanbulMarch 18, 2013 Çukur Meyhane (2) It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Meg Ryan’s big moment at Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met […] Posted in IstanbulOctober 22, 2012 Klemuri (1) Posted in Istanbul

Gram

Certain global phenomena, like sushi, the mojito and the sitcom Golden Girls, might have arrived a bit late in Turkey, but as the world scrambles to go local, eat seasonally and connect with traditional culinary roots, Turkey is way ahead of the pack. Gram, chef Didem Şenol’s carefully curated locavore deli in Şişhane, feels perfectly in step with the stripped- down style that chefs from New York to New Zealand are favoring today. May 31, 2017 Athens’ Suburban Gem (0) Posted in AthensMay 9, 2017 Arsi’s Pateseria (0) Posted in QueensMay 25, 2017 Atila del Sur Comedor (0) Posted in Oaxaca

Hamsi

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 of the best time of the year to eat the little suckers. In honor of hamsi season, we offer a list of six of our favorite places to try these tiny fish. June 12, 2017 Goat Cheese and Fried Honeybees (0) Posted in ShanghaiMay 18, 2017 El Bisaura (0) Posted in BarcelonaNovember 26, 2012 Asmalı Cavit (0) Posted in Istanbul

Sakarya Tatlıcısı

The arrival of fall always finds us heading instinctively, like salmon swimming towards their ancestral headwaters, to the Balık Pazarı, Beyoğlu’s historic fish market. Autumn is quince season in Turkey and that means the appearance – for a limited time only – of one of our favorite desserts, ayva tatlısı (literally meaning “quince dessert,” although “quince in syrup” might be more accurate). March 28, 2013 Spring (Food) Break 2013: Istanbul (0) Posted in IstanbulJuly 7, 2016 Ask CB (0)   Posted in ShanghaiJune 20, 2014 Ask CB (0) Dear Culinary Backstreets, I keep hearing buzz about “yangmei” season in Shanghai. […] Posted in Shanghai

Klemuri

Like Clark Kent hiding his Superman tights beneath a brown suit and glasses, Klemuri maintains the appearance of a predictable Beyoğlu café – wooden tables, shelves loaded with knickknacks, Buena Vista Social Club on the stereo, spinach crepes and a crispy chicken salad on the menu. But down in the kitchen, out of public view, Klemuri’s alter ego – a spry Laz cook – is waiting to save you from another boring “café” lunch. May 25, 2017 Atila del Sur Comedor (0) Posted in OaxacaNovember 26, 2012 Asmalı Cavit (0) Posted in IstanbulMarch 18, 2013 Çukur Meyhane (2) It wasn’t quite as dramatic as Meg Ryan’s big moment at Katz’s Deli in When Harry Met […] Posted in Istanbul

Şimşek Pide Salonu

Editor’s note: We regret to report that Şimşek Pide Salonu has closed. Turkey’s take on the pizza comes in two distinct varieties. There’s the Arabesque lahmacun, a round, ultra thin-crusted snack topped with a shmear of finely ground meat and seasoning. Then there’s pide, a more substantial canoe-shaped creation that’s a specialty of Turkey’s Black Sea region. May 25, 2017 Atila del Sur Comedor (0) Posted in OaxacaOctober 19, 2012 In Istanbul, Staying One Meal Ahead of the Wrecking Ball (5) Posted in IstanbulSeptember 17, 2012 Fatih Karadeniz Pidecisi (0) Posted in Istanbul

Köfteci Hüseyin

In New York, consider the pizza. You’ve got Famous Ray’s Pizza, Ray’s Original Pizza, World-Famous Original Ray’s Pizza, and so on. Ray and his imitators just wouldn’t bother if New Yorkers believed pizza was “just a slice.” It’s the same story in Istanbul with köfte, a dish that to non-locals may seem like nothing more than grilled meatballs, but which Turks take very seriously. May 18, 2017 El Bisaura (0) Posted in BarcelonaOctober 19, 2012 In Istanbul, Staying One Meal Ahead of the Wrecking Ball (5) Posted in IstanbulOctober 12, 2012 Şimşek Pide Salonu (0) Posted in Istanbul

Beyoğlu Öğretmenevi

Like Atatürk statues and crescent-and-star flags etched into the sides of mountains, the öğretmenevi (“teacher’s house”) is an integral part of the Turkish landscape. Found in almost every city in Turkey, these government-run institutions serve as affordable guesthouses for educators on the road and – since anyone is welcome if space is available – for those traveling on a teacher’s budget. May 29, 2017 Suju Dining Rokkaku (0) Posted in TokyoJuly 15, 2013 Kalpazankaya Restaurant (0) Posted in IstanbulApril 8, 2013 Heyamola Ada Lokantası (1) Posted in Istanbul

Istanbul’s Top Street Foods, Part 1

We’re especially fond of Istanbul’s vibrant – and sometimes plain wacky – street food scene. Here we present three of our favorite street foods and the best places in the city to get them. May 15, 2017 Biscoito Globo (0) Posted in RioJune 14, 2017 Friggitoria Masardona (0) Posted in NaplesOctober 12, 2012 Şimşek Pide Salonu (0) Posted in Istanbul

Lades 2

The no-frills Lades 2 presents diners with that age-old question: what to eat first, the chicken or the eggs? A Turkish version of the American-style greasy-spoon diner, this restaurant specializes in all things fowl, from chicken soup to a variety of egg dishes and even a dessert that – we kid you not – weds a thick, milky pudding with chicken. June 20, 2013 Mall Busters: Istanbul Beyond the Food Court (1) Posted in IstanbulMay 23, 2017 Mahir Lokantası (0) Posted in IstanbulDecember 17, 2012 Lades (2) If Lades, which means “wishbone” in Turkish, provided an actual wishbone alongside the […] Posted in Istanbul

Şahin Lokantası

For Turks, mealtime is often a complicated emotional drama, one that revolves around a lifelong effort to return to the culinary womb – in other words, Mother’s kitchen. In Turkey, Mom’s cooking sets the standard by which all others are judged and, truth be told, some of the finest meals we’ve had here have been home-cooked ones. May 25, 2017 Atila del Sur Comedor (0) Posted in OaxacaMay 23, 2017 Mahir Lokantası (0) Posted in IstanbulMarch 29, 2016 Hayvore (0) Posted in Istanbul

Untitled-34    By the time the tour draws to a close, bellies have been stretched by pickled turnip juice; ravioli sprinkled with dried mint, red pepper flakes and ground sumac; and delicately spiced eggplant stuffed with ground beef. By now, the walkers have tasted the history that lives on through a pickle, a working-day lunch or a tiny cup of thick, black coffee. Read more

Untitled-35 Halfway through our backstreet tour of the Beyoglu district of Istanbul, Megan has been leading us a merry dance through some of the city’s best kept secrets, places which you won’t find in the guidebooks but that the locals flock to. After an early start, we meet in Cihangir. This once poor, conservative area, off the tourist trail, has transformed, through the process of gentrification, into a trendy neighbourhood, full of artisans and a café culture. Read more

Untitled-37 With plates almost emptied, we are allowed into the kitchen, where we meet the staff who speak as much English as we do Turkish. We converse in a language of smiles and “mmm”s, lifting pot lids after being granted approval to our questioning eyebrows, snapping photos as they stir okra stews, custards and curds. Katerina does her best to translate as our questions become more intricate, and I’m sure they are laughing at our in-depth questions about a series of dishes which to them hold all the intrigue of Vegemite on toast. Read more

Untitled-36 By the end of the six hour walking tour, we walked in and around Istiklal, taking side streets and coming across cafes and restaurants that tourists like us probably wouldn’t have come across. Throughout the day, I stepped out of my food comfortzone again and again by eating whatever it was we were served. Read more

Untitled-38 While discovering the food of any city is of interest to us, there was so much more we learned on these tours – something about the history of the movie business in Istanbul; the location of former hammams; hidden churches; the best views of the old city. But mainly it was about the food. Read more

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