Beyoglu is one of the historical districts of Istanbul. However, when compared to the Old City (Sultanahmet and its surroundings) on the opposite side, it has a very modern style. In this article you can find the best restaurants in Taksim, Istiklal Street, Karakoy and Cihangir neighborhoods of Beyoglu District.
The Rise of Beyoglu in 19th Century
Beyoglu is one of the first neighborhoods when it comes to reflecting the cosmopolite culture of the Ottoman Empire. The streets of Beyoglu started to become more lively, especially after the second half of the 19th century and these streets are as colorful as ever.
As Beyoglu was the center of embassies, theatre halls, luxurious hotels, and business centers, these developments contributed a lot to Beyoglu’s neighborhoods. Today, such places in Beyoglu as Karakoy, Galata, Cihangir, Pera, and Istiklal Avenue are still popular.
Moreover, being the melting pot of various cultures created its unique food culture too. And tons of restaurants in Beyoglu (aka Taksim) still keep this rich culture alive all around the neighborhood.
Best Restaurants in Taksim, Karakoy, Istiklal Street
In this post, I’ve listed the best restaurants in Taksim, Karakoy, Cihangir and Istiklal Street (all in Beyoglu district) for the visitors who plan to enjoy some magnificent food. I hope you will have an unforgettable experience.
Before I start the article, I would like to point out that the Covid epidemic had devastating effects on Istanbul’s restaurant and entertainment industry. Some restaurants have closed temporarily, while others have closed completely. For this reason, I recommend you to call and check the latest situation before going to restaurants in Beyoglu.
1. Asmali Cavit
Asmalı Cavit is one of the restaurants that has an important place in the tavern culture of Istanbul since the beginning of the 2000s. Turkish taverns are called “meyhane” and serve delicious Turkish appetizers and Turkish raki.
Its roasted spinach beet, marinated haddock, brain salad, and yaprak ciger (fried sliced liver) are among the most delicious options at Asmali Cavit. Also, you shouldn’t forget to taste Asmali Cavit’s little meatballs that should be dipped in its special sauce.
This is a family business which is managed by Mr. Cavit. His daughter and nieces help him run the place. It’s located right in the middle of Asmalimescit and opposite to Yakup 2 (another famous tavern) and the second floor of Asmali Cavit is really spacious.
Mikla was opened to represent an “Istanbulite” restaurant in 2005 and it’s among the best restaurants in Istanbul with the view and modern presentation of food it offers. And the restaurant initiated a successful “New Anatolia Kitchen” concept and brings a new approach to how Anatolian food is cooked.
At Mikla, à la carte menu of 3 steps is served and the menu is composed of starters, main courses, and desserts. Moreover, a tasting menu of 7 steps is offered too. With its continually updated menus, Mikla maintains its high quality and delicious food standards.
Mehmet Gurs, the chef of the restaurant, has a Turkish father and Swedish mother and tries to create a blend of Scandinavian cooking techniques and Turkish Cuisine. You can try specialties like lamb heart, whole-wheat manti, and Iskenderun shrimp as well as light desserts such as cherry-goat cheese.
Mikla is located on Mesrutiyet Street, also known as “Pera”, in Beyoglu. The restaurant, which is a 10-minute walk from both Galata Tower and Taksim Square, is one of the best restaurants in Taksim.
3. Karakoy Lokantasi
Karakoy Lokantasi is located on Karakoy’s famous Kemankes Street and it’s both meyhane and restaurant that is open till 12:00 every night. It’s an ideal place to meet friends for drinks and have lunch or dinner.
The menu at Karakoy Lokantasi is really rich. You can find a dish for any taste, be it boiled tongue, smoked anchovy, fried chicken, fried lamb, fish or pork rib. It should be added that the traditional Turkish food menu of the restaurant is mouth watering.
Located close to both Sultanahmet and Taksim Square, the place is known as the best restaurant in Karakoy. The location of the restaurant is very close to the Galata Bridge, which connects Istanbul Old City and Beyoglu.
4. 360 Istanbul
360 Istanbul is located on Historical Misir Apartment in Beyoglu and it is included in the best restaurants of Istanbul with its location, the view it offers, and different cocktails.
360 Istanbul has been awarded numerous times thanks to its rich menu and it’s one of the prominent places where you can enjoy your cocktail while you can listen to great music and experience a marvellous Istanbul view.
In addition to its cocktails, you can try different dishes from local kitchens such as lentil meatballs, kibbeh, hummus or delicacies like roast duck with cherry and green risotto with sausage from the world kitchen.
One of the most important features of 360 Istanbul is that it turns into a club after 10:00 in the evening and has an important place in the nightlife of the city. The restaurant is very easy to find as it serves in one of the buildings on Istiklal Street.
5. Haci Abdullah
Haci Abdullah is the oldest place on our list of best restaurants in Taksim. The restaurant, which has existed since the 19th century, has been serving since 1958 at its present location. Located next to the Aga Mosque, very close to Taksim Square, the restaurant draws attention with its traditional Turkish dishes.
The chefs that were trained by Mr. Abdullah has managed the restaurant after his death and it’s one of the rare restaurants where you can find classical Ottoman dishes like pilaf with vermicelli, elbasan tava (a dish made with lamb and rice baked with yogurt and eggs) and desserts like hashish dessert.
Haci Abdullah is a place recommended by tour guides and gourmets of Istanbul due to its historical features. If you want to experience Ottoman cuisine, you can try this place.
6. 9 Ece Aksoy
9 Ece Aksoy has been in service for 2 years at Asmalimescit and with its original style, it quickly grabbed itself a place in the list of best restaurants in Beyoglu. 9 Ece Aksoy highlights the Mediterranean flavors of Turkish cuisine, which is a blend of different cultures.
Here, you can find unique dishes such as fried tomatoes with spicy sauce or rooster marinated with wine. Also, its wine menu is worth taking a look at too. We highly recommend 9 Ece Aksoy as it offers delicious food and original style.
Ficcin is a place where you can have breakfast and lunch. Therefore, it’s a popular place among workers. Ficcin, which is preferred for a short lunch break during the day, serves as a meyhane (Turkish tavern) in the evenings.
In its menu, you can try Circassian manti and Circassian chicken if you like Circassian food. Moreover, its appetizers made with fish are really delicious. Additionally, its unique delicacies such as Chinese chicken should not be missed, either.
You should also note that different set menus are offered for lunch meals at Ficcin. Overall, we can easily say it’s one of the best restaurants in Beyoglu and you can watch the passers-by on Istiklal Street while you enjoy your dinner at your table on Kallavi Street.
8. Zubeyir Ocakbasi
Zubeyir Ocakbasi is a family restaurant run by two brothers named Hamit and Zubeyir. Serving since the early 2000s, the restaurant stands out among the best meat restaurants in Istanbul.
Thanks to the 20 years of experience of its owners, Zubeyir Ocakbasi offers both traditional and original dishes. Zubeyir Ocakbasi is considered as one of the best restaurants near Taksim Square.
Havyore is a word meaning “I am here” in the local language of the Black Sea. Hizir Chef founded Havyore after gaining experience in Istanbul’s food industry for 15 years. The restaurant represents the Black Sea (Northern coasts), which has an important place in Turkish cuisine.
In its menu, you can try beans, omelet with anchovies, pilaf, laz boregi (a dessert made with milk, vanilla, butter on layers of pastry), and baked rice pudding. And we can say that it has a lot of regulars who enjoy these Black Sea delicacies.
Located on Istiklal Street, which stretches between Taksim Square and Galata Tower, the restaurant offers its visitors examples of the Black Sea cuisine, famous for its seafood.
10. Leb-i Derya
Leb-i Derya means a place with a sea view in Turkish. As the name suggests, the restaurant has a magnificent view and is located on Kumbaraci Yokusu. Leb-i Derya has delicious appetizers such as Madame Nazen’s topik (chickpea and potato ball), marinated beetroot with cumin, mackerel with thyme, and gypsy salad.
Additionally, if you are a seafood lover, its warm starters are definitely worth trying. Stuffed baby calamari, grilled whole Ayvalik calamari, fish meatballs, and bean salad with mussels are some of the starters that you can taste. If you want fish as your main course, it depends on the season, but if you opt to have beef, you can go for rib steak at Leb-i Derya.
Leb-i Derya, which is very close to Galata Tower, is an ideal place for those who want to have a nice dinner in Beyoglu. I suggest you make a reservation before going as it is a very popular restaurant.
11. Munhasir Doner and Kebap
Munhasir Doner and Kebap is a restaurant recommended by Vedat Milor, one of Istanbul’s most famous gourmets. Located in the middle of Istiklal Street, the restaurant has a spacious courtyard on the second floor.
Delicious dishes at Munhasir Doner & Kebap have made this restaurant one of the must-visit places especially if you are a meat lover. And, therefore, it’s a highly popular place among both local and foreign visitors.
In its menu, you can find doner on pilaf, doner on a plate or Iskender kebab. Moreover, Adana kebab, Urfa kebab, and walnut kebab are some other items you can try here. By the way, Munhasir remained closed for a long time during the Covid period. For this reason, it is useful to check the latest status before you go.
12. Nicole Restaurant
Nicole Restaurant is located on the terrace of Tomtom Suites Hotel and it offers a majestic view that includes the garden of the Embassy of Italy and even the Princes’ Islands. The restaurant derives its name from the manager of the building, Agnès Marthe Nicole, in which members of the Franciscans treated the sick. And there are 3 menu options in Nicole Restaurant, which are Discovery, Nicole, and Nicole 5.
Nicole Restaurant draws attention with the dishes made with local and seasonal ingredients and château style wines. The chef of the restaurant is Aylin Yazicioglu, who received her training in Paris and Spain.
Asparagus is included in all of its menus and calamari, duck and the fish of the day are some of the items in the menus and you can have a sweet ending with a delicious dessert. Please also note that Nicole Restaurant is open from 18:30 to 21:30 every day except for Sundays and Mondays.
13. No:19 Dining
No:19 Dining is located at Cukurcuma (Cihangir) and its chef is a half Turkish and half Syrian citizen named Aylin Jabbulique. The place offers a warm and sincere atmosphere and you can try main courses such as chicken with cilantro, islim kebab (lamb stew with vegetables), chicken curry or imam bayildi. Additionally, you can also taste appetizers from the Arab kitchen at No:19 Dining.
And if you are a vegetarian, there are dishes you can find in its vegetarian menu. However, whatever you choose to eat here, we recommend everyone to try a special cheese dessert from Syria which is made with cheese, semolina, and the aroma of three different flowers from Syria.
Best Restaurants in Taksim (Beyoglu) by Serhat Engul