Istanbul is one of the world’s most mesmerizing capitals. A visit to this contradictory city leaves many people in soulful contemplation, and with an array of unforgettable memories. It may have something to do with the fact that this bustling Turkish gem lies on the border of two continents; but it really does seem Istanbul enjoys its split-personality syndrome. Inherently Turkish yet jovially multicultural, unnervingly hectic yet soothingly tranquil; this East-meets-West city can be all you desire, and more.
The suburb of Taksim is considered the heart and soul of Istanbul, and booking a holiday rental apartment here will save you on numerous counts. First of all, having the city’s action outside your front door means you need not battle with Istanbul’s insane traffic and, on an even more crucial point, Taksim is home to the city’s best restaurants! What better way to discover Istanbul…then by eating your way through it?
Enjoy the gastronomic assortment Taksim has to offer, by taking your taste buds on a ‘best of’ guided tour of this trendy area. Go on…taste a brand new world!
The best view in town
To enjoy great food and magnificent views head to 360 Istanbul, an enticing eatery on the western end of Istiklal Caddesi. This restaurant and club is housed on the terraced roof of a 200 year old building and, as the name suggests, gifts sweeping views of the city. Make sure you come early enough to enjoy a sundowner before dinner, and be mesmerized by the spectacle of a breathtaking sun setting over the Sea of Marmara.
360 Istanbul offers a varied dinner menu, the cuisine a pleasant blend of Turkish and International flavours. The meals may not necessarily send you into an epicurean trance, but that’s ok. You really wouldn’t want anything deterring you from the magic views! The owner’s insistence that the service be ‘fun’ can be taken quite literally. You can, indeed, have quite a comical experience at 360, especially if your Turkish is a tad rusty. But we believe it all adds to the fun!
This joint comes truly alive after 10pm, when 360 morphs into one of the city’s hottest nightclubs. If you have an aversion to hot young things in micro skirts, we suggest you have an early dinner and head home. Otherwise, well, stay and enjoy the hot young things in micro skirts.
The best Black Sea fare in town
Turkey is a rather large country, so it is not surprising to learn that gastronomic delights from every region can differ considerably. For your chance to flavour the best of Black Sea cuisine head to Hayvore, an appetizing new restaurant on Turnacıbaşı Caddesi.
Here you can savour the regional specialty hamsi (anchovies), cooked in a myriad of different ways. Have them stuffed in cornbread (hamsi ekmek) or in a rice pilaf (hamsi pilav) and even in a sweet treat (hamsi tatlisis).!Should you happen to be ready to gag right about now, we beg you to leave your inhibitions behind and give this hairy little fish a break! If you believe that putting anchovies on pizza should be made illegal, you may very well change your mind once you see them glazed with honey.
The best delights in town
There’s no point in beating around the bush…holidaying in Istanbul and not gorging on Turkish delights is just unthinkable. Turkish Delights (or lokum in the local lingo) are bite-size sweet jelly cubes, infused with rosewater and flavoured with everything from pistachios and coconut, to cinnamon and mint. Lokum have been an integral part of Turkish cuisine for over 500 years and are utterly addictive. Their rich taste and gooey texture have made lokum internationally renowned, and you will no doubt see infinite stalls selling these ‘morsels of contentment’ all over Taksim.
For the best lokum in the area however, head to Ozsut Café, on 215 Istitkal Caddesi. This family owned business has a cult following, and offers so many different types of desserts (including lokum) that a quick stop-over usually turns into an hour-long gorgefest. Incidentally, their Black Forest Cake rates as one of the best outside Germany, so leave some room for a slice of that too. Oksum also makes a mean Turkish coffee and, if you’re lucky, the owner may even be inclined to read your coffee fortune. She may envisage copious amounts of indulgence; but that’s just Istanbul for you.