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Istanbul
Erol Lokantası: The Un-Tourist Trap

Şenol Erol is trying to remain optimistic about running the last esnaf lokantası in Sultanahmet, where the market seems to demand tourist traps over traditional tradesman’s restaurants. “I guess that makes us unique, doing things the old way,” he says, as if this vintage eatery needed a tagline. Continue »

Istanbul
First Stop: Aslı Aydıntaşbaş's Istanbul

Editor’s note: We asked Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, a columnist for Turkish daily Milliyet, where she heads first for food when she returns to Istanbul after a trip abroad. Continue »

Istanbul
Spring (Food) Break 2014: Istanbul

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.
Continue »

Istanbul
Erzincan Tandır Ekmeği: Village Loaves for City Folks

In the Kurtuluş district of Istanbul, we’ve lately been exploring links to older, nearly lost Istanbul culinary traditions. Spending time in the sweetshops, milk bars and şarküteri of this district, we’ve seen a glimmer, if faded, of the “Old Istanbul” that people remember from the 1950s and ’60s, when the city’s historic minorities – Greeks, Armenians and Jews – played a prominent role in the culinary scene of the city. Continue »

Istanbul
First Stop: Ana Sortun's Istanbul

Editor’s note: In the inaugural post of our new recurring feature, First Stop, we ask Chef Ana Sortun of the much-beloved restaurant Oleana and bakery Sofra in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she heads first for food when she arrives in Istanbul.  Continue »

Istanbul
Trileçe: The Balkan Cake of Mystery

It’s hard to imagine Istanbul without its pastane windows stacked high with trays of ivory-colored flaky mille-feuille and coolers lined with row after row of chocolate-topped éclairs. And of course, the sweets scene in Istanbul would not be complete without the much-loved profiterole. Continue »

Istanbul
Karaköy Lokantası: A Dockside Winner

When Karaköy was still “the docks” and filled with shop windows advertising boat tickets to Odessa alongside cubby-sized import and export offices, Karaköy Lokantası felt like a culinary mirage. Continue »

Istanbul
Mourning in Istanbul: The Bread of Political Affliction

Since coming to Istanbul more than a decade ago, we have come to associate a loaf of the city’s iconic crusty white bread with satisfying lunches in an esnaf lokantası, using chunks of the humble loaf to sop up whatever was left on our plate. Since Tuesday, though, a loaf of bread has become something else in Istanbul: a symbol of both mourning and protest. Continue »

Istanbul
Grills and Thrills: Istanbul's Top 5 Kebab Restaurants

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. Continue »

Istanbul
Çiya Sofrası: Loquat Kebabs and Mesopotamian Truffles at Istanbul’s Culinary Shrine

For us, one of the highlights of spring in Istanbul is a visit to Çiya Sofrası, the Asian-side eatery that is very likely the best restaurant in Istanbul. It’s certainly not the fanciest or most cutting-edge place in town, but we rarely leave Çiya without having a profoundly new and memorable taste experience. Continue »

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When it comes to exploring a city's authentic dining scene, while the stomach should ideally serve as the best compass, the truth is that it's hard to find your way without good local advice. That's where Culinary Backstreets' food walks come in.
Istanbul Eats: Exploring The Culinary Backstreets
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