Excerpt of my book "5 routes to explore Istanbul in 5 days" already available in paper and ebook format.
[...] For dinner you have complete freedom to choose the restaurant that suits you. In the city there is excess supply so I'll give some practical advice. There are several types of restaurant. The most common are self titled as "lokanta". Would be equivalent to a cheap menu restaurant.
Usually in lokanta you can find any food but in general provide very basic menu. Then there are restaurants that are titled according to the type of food they provide. The Donerci specialize in grilled meats while Kebapci in making all kinds of skewered meat and sometimes fish. The Donerci would be the equivalent of doner kebap found in Europe. The Kofteci make a type of meatball that I personally hate but which are very popular in Turkey. The Pideci serves a kind of Turkish pizza very popular but that I do not recommend it because is usually very spicy. Oddly enough there are corbaci - pronounced chorbayi - who are specialized in serving ... soup. If you go to one of these corbaci and it's winter I recommend lentil soup - mercimek çorbasi - which is extraordinarily tasty. Another type of very specialized restaurant are the gözlemeci. Gözlemeci serves filo pastry filled with cheese, meat, potatoes etc. Usually you can distinguish gözlemeci because at the entrance there is one or two women wearing traditional peasant costumes sitting on cushions making up the difficult filo pastry - "yufka" for Turks -.
|Gözlemeci with the cook working in the restaurant dresser|
Finally, to my knowledge, they are the manti, a type of restaurant where you will never find me because they serve a recipe that I hate. The manti is a kind of ravioli cooked and bathed in a spicy yogurt sauce with sumac, garlic and paprika. When I sleep I have nightmares about them, but for many Turkish and foreign are a delicacy.
Some restaurants indicate "Iskender kebap". If you are lucky to find one do not let go. Iskender kebap is the supreme delicacy of Turkish cuisine. It is a recipe made with pita bread base over which tomatoe sauce, grilled meat (döner kebap) and yogurt is served, accompanied by a vegetable.
Of course there are also restaurants serving a little of everything. And if you want to try all kinds of hot and cold dishes do not miss to go to the meze. In the meze the waiter brings to your table a cart full of all kinds of meals. The waiters will serve until the diner says "Enough!" which in Turkish it is "Yeter". I've only eaten meze in Turkey during Ramadan, to attend the Iftar after sunset. As there are some dishes that are cooked only at that time it is worth to enjoy meze at that time. There are fish restaurants but generally is not the specialty most applauded in Istanbul. Indeed the best fish restaurants of Turkey are located in the Turkish Aegean and the Black Sea. However there are a few fish establishments in Istanbul run by chefs from these regions and are quite good. There's one where you can eat a tasty bread made from anchovies, besides squid and mussels.
To accompany your meal you can order a drink, raki (grape brandy that is mixed with water), wine or beer. Locals often take ayran, which is very slightly salty liquid yogurt. Boza is also taken, but is falling into disuse. Turkish wine and beers are of good quality. They can be taken without restrictions despite being a predominantly Muslim country.
In the next chapter we will review another route, which goes from Taksim to Ortaköy [...]