Where to eat and where to sleep in Istanbul – near Taksim

There seem to be many good eateries in the vicinity of Istanbul’s Taksim Square, Unfortunately, we had just four nights in the city and were only able to try a few restaurants in this area.  We learned about most of them while watching the Istanbul episode of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’.  Several of our top recommendations listed here are located on or around the main pedestrian street, İstiklal Caddesi, that connects Taksim Square with the neighborhood around the Galata Tower.

Kızılkayalar Hamburgers – wedged in amongst a row of street side fast food joints, this little kiosk serves delicious and extremely inexpensive ‘soggy burgers’ and döner.  Arriving late to our hotel on our first night in the city, we realized that getting a table at a restaurant could be difficult, and though Gayla was quite skeptical of the quality, we decided to try the neighborhood street food.  And, were quite pleased.  The burger is less meat and more bun, but high on spice and flavor, bordering on addictive. We went back for more.  Multiple times.  During the same visit.   Several burgers, a chicken döner, and drinks came to about 6 Euros (20 TL).  Not a bad choice for our intro to Instanbul.   Kızılkayalar is located at Siraselviler Avenue No. 2, near Taksim Square.

Dürümzade – tucked away at the edge of a gritty neighborhood, this little grillroom serves delicious grilled flatbread wraps called dürüm.  What makes these light and crispy wraps so flavorful is that the flatbread is used to catch the spicy drippings from the meats and then grilled with the meat on open flames.  The menu is simple: your choice of meat (chicken, beef, lamb, liver) and portion size (single or double = 1 kebab or 2), and served with parsley, onions, and tomatoes.  Your professionally wrapped dürüm is presented to you, nice and neat, in a plastic sleeve to contain the juices.  The menu also includes platters, but we think the wraps are the way to go.  And like our experience with the soggy burgers, we ordered seconds, and left wishing we’d had the time and appetite for more.  Two single dürüm, one double, and three drinks came to around 9 Euros (28 TL).  Dürümzade is located at Hüseyinağa Mh., 34435 Beyoğlu/Istanbul, about 15 minute’s walk from Taksim Square. It’s longer if you get lost.

Latife Hanım Meyhanesi – this classier restaurant serves an interesting selection of mezze (small portions of fish, meats, and vegetables similar to Spanish tapas or Venetian cicchetti). Make your selections from the large platter the waiter presents to your table and pay for what you take.  We enjoyed a few familiar dishes like pickled sardines, stuffed peppers, goat’s cheese, olives, and peppered yoghurt (really good!).  As is customary with mezze, we tried Turkish raki, the traditional anise-flavored alcoholic beverage.  Latife Hanım Meyhanesi is pricier than the other eateries mentioned here, but the food and service are good.  The restaurant is located at Bekar Sokağı, No: 22/A, Beyoğlu, just steps from İstiklal Caddesi and about 5 minutes from Taksim.

Mado – Judging by the number of locals and regional tourists inside, this classy ice cream parlor/confectionary is the place to stop for a taste of traditional Turkish sweets. Their display cases are topped with towers of pistachio desserts and filled with mounds of Turkish Delight (Lokum), trays of baklava, and pretty cakes.   We enjoyed a hearty piece of their Shredded Wheat Dessert with Pistachio Filling, a scoop (also available in slices) of dense and slightly chewy goat’s milk ice cream, and a strong cup of Turkish coffee.   Mado has several locations, but this particular one can be found on Istiklal Caddesi, about 10 minute’s from Taksim Square.

Tatbak –  another restaurant featured on Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’. They were spotlighted for their lahmacun, Turkish pizza topped with minced meat served with lemon and parsley.  We enjoyed ours with a salad (fresh tomatoes, onions, and pickled peppers) and an order of yogurtlu kebap (lamb kebab served on warm bread with yogurt, tomato sauce, and fresh tomatoes).  We were pleased with our meal and the service, but weren’t exactly blown away.  Tatbak is located at Akkavak Sokak 28/a, Nişantaşı, north of Taksim Square.  It’s kind of out of the way and may not be a convenient option for some.  It’s a 10-minute walk from the Metro (Line M2: Osmanbey).

Where to sleep:

We chose this hotel for its reasonable room rates and close proximity to both public transportation and the airport shuttle bus terminal

Taksim Life Hotel – is clean, comfortable and conveniently located just off of Taksim Square.  It’s a short walk from the hotel to the majority of the eateries listed here, and right around the corner from the Metro/Funicular.  Taksim Life Hotel, Şehit Muhtar Cad. Anar Çeşmesi Sok. No:13.

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  1. By Good Cheap Food in Taksim Square Istanbul - The "soggy burger" as seen on Anthony Bourdain - Most Technology Source 3 Dec ’17 at 11:49 am

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