One of the things that fuels the excitement of travel is the food culture that exists beyond your neighborhood. After booking our first b&b in Sultanahmet, I started doing my research. What I found was not the plethora of dining options I imagined but a sea of tourist spots and overpriced at that.
Although the best restaurants were found in other neighborhoods, we found a few (plus some hangout spots) to suit our needs.
For a Turkish Breakfast spread that keeps you coming back for more
Ahmet Effendi Evi B&B
Sultan Ahmet Mh. Keresteci Hakkı Sokak 31, 34122 Istanbúl
It’s no secret we loved our b&b. It’s been said that part of what makes a hotel good in Istanbul is its breakfast, so choose wisely. This b&b had an amazing spread that kept us going straight through to late lunches each day. My favorite new foods included yogurt with tahini and grape molasses.
Ahmet Effendi Evi Hotel (included in all room rates)
For home-cooked style meals with exceptional setting:
Directly next to main entrance of Suleyman Mosque
I know, you’ve read never order anything without prices. There is a menu right by the door if you need but rest assured, prices are very reasonable. Ask the waiter to take a look at all of the options inside!
For good, no nonsense Köfte on the main drag:
This is a suitable spot right next to the Aya Sofia, Blue Mosque and the rest of the big sites. What you see is what you get- great for those (like me!) who can’t make a decision.
This photo of Sultanahmet Koftecisi is courtesy of TripAdvisor
For a no frills meal with heart-warming hospitality
Hacitahsinbey Cad. (Off of Divanyolu)
On a tiny side street off the the chaos of Divanlu, we frequented this tiny place offering great pide and other hot dishes. While it took quite a while when I ordered something other than pide, it was well, well worth the wait. The Eggplant Kebap was among the best meals I had in Istanbul.
For a traditional nargile experience
Walk through the Arasta Bazaar and make a right at the end. Walk down windy street (watch for the cars!) and you will see it on your right.
Alright, so this isn’t a dining experience but it deserves recognition nonetheless. This spot is shabbily lovely and bodes an incredible view of the Blue Mosque if you’re seated outside. Nargile (or hookah) is flavored tobacco, the best being apple in my novice opinion.
For a romantic lunch away from it all
Hit up the corner stores and if you’re in the vicinity of any markets grab goods there, too. While the markets are preferable, your corner stores house perfectly fine cheeses, olives, dried fruits and ayran. Find a sunny location and dig in… it doesn’t get any cheaper or fun than this.
Wandering around and settling on a place to eat is one of the best parts of traveling. It can be quite overwhelming at times but I what I wish for you and myself is to remember you’re on an adventure. Try not to obsess over finding the perfect spot but instead try something new and allow yourself to let go a bit. You never know, you might stumble upon something amazing that wasn’t listed in your tried and true guide book but is a place you can call your own.