Friday, September 23, 2011

Review: Hardal "Eat Drink Play"

Dear readers,

After my post on Set Fish Restaurant, I decided to do another restaurant/cafe review...and my pick for this post is Hardal on Atiye Sokak in Nişantaşı.

But... as always, before I begin to write about Hardal, I want to give you some other info on my day yesterday, which included my 3rd visit to Hardal.

It was kind of a bleak day in Istanbul... cloudy, overcast and rain in the forecast! After being spoiled with wonderful weather for months, the thought of rain (even though we do need it!) wasn't a happy prospect!

Especially since I was going to the Hilton Hotel in Harbiye (steps from Taksim, the center of the city) to attend the IWI (International Women of Istanbul) Orientation meeting and planned a day out with my sister Meltem which included a leisurely lunch.

Hilton Hotel
The Hilton Hotel is the oldest international hotel chain in Istanbul and their landmark hotel on spacious beautifully landscaped grounds in Harbiye has been around for over 50+ years! In fact, it holds a special place in my heart because my dad - who was in the hotel business - did his internship here in the mid 1950s when it first opened.

The IWI ( is a non-proft organization which I have been a member of for about 10 years now. It is made up of foreign women (or Turkish women with a foreign passport), with I believe about 700 members from different nationalities. The purpose is to bring together women from different backgrounds to share information, organize all sorts of events, etc. It has a board made up of volunteers and the funds gathered from the membership dues and events are used to prepare the monthly Lale Magazine and a major portion of the funds from the events (i.e. Christmas Bazaar) are donated to a number of Turkish charitable organizations that the IWI supports.

The Orientation meeting is held every year in mid-September so that new members can join and existing members can renew their memberships. It is held in the hotel's ballroom and there are many stands set up where members can get information on the different clubs they can join and many schools also set up stands to give information on educational opportunities for expat kids. Also,some magazines (Time Out, Cornucoppia, etc.) set up stands to introduce their magazines to newcomers to Istanbul. When I was at The Guide Istanbul, we set up a stand each year where IWI members could sign up for a subscription or just buy the lastest issue of the magazine. This year, they had a stand again and below is a picture of me with Seray Ulucan Kanberoğlu, who is the Advertising Manager at the magazine: we worked together for nearly 10 years before I left my job at the end of December, 2010.

The event ends at around 1:00pm and my sister and I initially had every intention of having lunch at Al Bushra, an excellent Lebanese restaurant, which is on the grounds of the hotel. During the winter months, it moves back indoors and is on the 9th floor of the hotel with a lovely view of the Bosphorus. Unfortunately, at lunchtime, there were no customers - I guess the potential bad weather deterred people from sitting outside - so we decided to go to Nişantaşı instead. Also, her friend Denise - who I had met several years ago, but never had the chance to get together with again - joined us too.

As the "expert" on where to eat in Istanbul, Meltem and Denise asked me where should we go... There are many places to choose from in Nişantaşı and we have been to most of them ... but I decided to recommend a place that neither had gone too, but I had the chance to go to twice in the last month (the last time on this past Tuesday!) and thought they would enjoy it too... in other words, Hardal!

Hardal is located on Atiye Street, parallel to Teşvikiye Street and Abdi Ipekçi Street in the heart of Nişantaşı. Just a few short months ago, this one block street was transformed into a "pedestrian only" street by the municipality of Şişli. So, now there are many side by side restaurants and cafes as well as high-end boutiques and jewelry shops lining the street. Most of them have been around for awhile (The House Cafe, Casita, Salomanje, Gönül Paksoy Boutique, Ela Cindoruk-Nazan Pak jewelry store, etc.), but the newcomers on the eating and drinking front are Hardal and Elio (Italian). There was some controversy with this decision: some liked it, while others did not. The pros were that the street "got cleaned" up from unnecessary traffic and received a facelift. The cons came from the dwellers on the street - with all the new cafes/restaurants open until the late hours and major crowds, people living on the street did not appreciate the noise and crowds. Also, the "dolmuş" (shared ride in a minibus) stop (this minibus took passengers to the Asian side of the city) on the corner of Atiye Sokak and Teşvikiye Street had to be moved to another location.

I went to Hardal for the first time during the Ramadan Holiday at the beginning of September with my little "Luka" and my friend Yazgülü Aldoğan, a journalist. As it was the holiday, the city was pretty much empty and we had no problem getting a seat at Hardal - or actually any other restaurants/cafes on this street or all of Istanbul! Luka was a "hit" that day with Hardal's staff and put on his charm as he always does - he is so lovable and friendly! The second time I went was this past Tuesday to meet another friend - who I had not seen in ages - for lunch. So, yesterday was my 3rd time in the past 3 weeks, so I felt compelled to review Hardal.

Hardal, which means "mustard" in Turkish, is a cafe, restaurant and bar, their motto is "eat, drink, play" and the location on Atiye Sokak is their 2nd branch. Their first - in Asmalımescit on Minare Sokak opened last year.

The decor at both venues is the same: a bright orange awning, several tables in the front; a spacious, modern & eclectic look with a large bar indoors and a small terrace in the back of the restaurant. As I mentioned in my earlier post on Hardal, I just wish the chairs were a little more comfortable and had a cushion because you do wind up getting numb and fidget quite a bit in your seat if you sit for a long time!

The menu at Hardal is very extensive... it includes anything and everything from International cuisine - from basic appetizers, salads, sandwiches and mains to pizza, pasta, noodles and fajitas! A comment on the menu's design... it is huge and not designed very well at all in my opinion (as well as those of the friends I went with)! You literally receive a vinyl covered book with vinyl pages filled with pictures and the menu selections. Ok, it is a cafe - a relaxed atmosphere, but the menu itself is a bit cheesy and very "diner"ish!

On the other hand - and definitely more importantly - the prices are very reasonable for Nişantaşı and the food very very good! On my first visit, I had an appetizer: avocado and mozzarella cheese with cherry tomatoes (Denise ordered this on my recommendation); the second time I ordered a main course -  grilled köfte (Turkish style meatballs) with a side of fries and salad and this time, I ordered grilled calamari. My sister order a grilled salmon salad. Each one of our dishes cost between 17 TL and 19 TL. While waiting for our meal to arrive, we asked for some bread and a dish of olive oil with balsamic vinegar. One problem though... Hardal does not have any whole wheat bread. Don't get me wrong, the bread is good, but only includes white bread, corn bread and white bread with sundried tomatoes - not very dietetic! Not that eating bread and olive oil is dietetic to begin with!  

The portions were quite generous and we were all happy with our selections which we had with a foreign brand of red wine (14 TL), mint lemonade and iced tea. We were there a little longer than we thought, so after having a cup of coffee each (espresso, macchiato and capuccino), I had another glass of wine! I did mention I do love my wine before right? The total bill for our meal cost about 112 TL and we left a 10 TL tip.

Now, let me mention the atmosphere and service...

Even though we were sitting in close quarters with the other tables, it was surprising that we did not hear their conversation and they didn't hear ours. There are two rows of tables (for 4 and 2 people) with a total of 6 tables outside. The tables are just the right size, so that once served, there is enough room between the plates and the other stuff placed on the table (bread basket, olive oil, salt/pepper shakers).

When it comes to the service, it is a little sporadic - but the waiters have such a good attitude, you tend to look past it! For example, if you are in a rush, you will find the service slow - sometimes it takes a long time to just get a beverage. They can make mistakes... my friend wanted balsamic vinegar for her carpaccio when I was there on Tuesday and she got soy sauce instead (didn't realize it of course until she tasted the carpaccio!), but they were very quick at giving her a new dish. Finally, some waiters are not very knowledgeable and cannot give you detailed information on menu items.

All in all... I definitely recommend Hardal for a casual and moderately priced meal in the "all expensive" and chi chi and trendy Nişantaşı!

Atiye Sokak No. 7 Nişantaşı
Tel: (0212) 219 73 23

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Set Fish Restaurant... to go or not to go?

After about a two week hiatus.. I am back to writing about Istanbul... I hope you enjoyed my series on the lovely summer resort town of Bodrum - a place that is definitely worth a visit!

I have now been back in Istanbul for about 10 days and it has been a little hectic! The weather is still very "summery" here, but we are expecting rain in Istanbul tomorrow and the weather will drop a couple of degrees to about 27 centigrades, but it is still considered warm for this time of year - so we will enjoy the mild weather as long as we can!

Socially, I had a dry spell last week and just needed to catch up on my work and didn't do anything major until this past Sunday!

Once again, it was a beautiful and sunny day - but a little windy - especially by the Bosphorus.

We decided to go out for a "family" lunch, something we hadn't done in months as my sis, brother-in-law and nephew were in Çeşme for the entire summer. So, we started our "traditional" outings - taking mom with us - by going to Set Fish Restaurant in Kireçburnu.

Kireçburnu is the next neighborhood after Tarabya on the Bosphorus waterfront and is filled with side by side seafood restaurants and a lovely park. From Set Fish, you get a direct view of the Bosphorus and Black Sea!

The Bosphorus and Black Sea (the area behind the tanker)

Kireçburnu Park
Set Fish as been around since 1967 - I think I visited this restaurant for the first time sometime in the 1980s during a trip to Istanbul when I lived in New York, but I'm not sure. I believe at that time, it was located across the street from its current location - almost on the Bosphorus waterfront.

As a location for a "family" outing to have fish, we "re-discovered" Set Fish about a couple of years ago. The eatery is very spacious with indoor and outdoor seating areas, but to be quite frank with you - everytime we go there - we say "it's the last time", but wind up going again! 

There are soooooo many seafood restaurants in Istanbul, but finding "just" the right one - depending on what you are looking for, is difficult. We tried many places and Mavi Balık ( in Kuruçeşme is a place we used to go to often (but stopped for some reason) as well as a few more "no frills" nameless eateries past Sarıyer in Rumeli Kavağı. Iskele ( in Rumelihisarı (right after Bebek) is another place we like to go too also. Living on the European side of the city, we prefer restaurants on this side of town, even though there are many on the Asian side that have boat services that shuttle you back and forth, if you don't want to deal with the traffic on the bridges. Also, we prefer to eat with a Bosphorus view even though there are many good seafood restaurants in other parts of the city too.

For example, for a family seafood lunch on the weekend, we prefer to go to a place that is casual and the prices modest, otherwise you can leave your shirt at the door when you leave!

For those that are not familiar with how seafood restaurants work in Turkey - you do not get a menu or "see" the prices before you order. Sure, if you ask for a menu, they will give you one, but it is not very informative and the prices can be deceiving. But, as I had written in an article I prepared for The Guide Istanbul ( on seafood restaurants a couple of years ago, do not feel embarrassed to ask for the price of the fish (even at the fanciest restaurant) you are planning to order - if you do not want any surprises on the bill afterwards. Why don't you get a menu? Well, first.. the hot and cold appetizer selections can change from day to day depending on the season and whether or not the restaurant was able to obtain the required ingredients. The price and types of fish also change daily - again based on supply and demand.

Back to Set Fish... we arrived at around 1:00pm and were lucky enough to get a table with a Bosphorus view - even though the restaurant is not right on the water.

View from our table at Set Fish Restaurant
Within 30 minutes of our arrival, the place filled up! The area we were sitting was the "outdoor" area, however, to protect again the sun, they had awnings covering the ceiling. The first problem was here... the awnings were not stable and moved with the wind and made a tremendous amount of noise that grated on your nerves after awhile. We even thought they would get unscrewed and fall on top of your heads - but of course this didn't happen.

We set about ordering our cold appetizers from the tray that came to our table displaying the selections. We were careful - most times we make the mistake of ordering too many appetizers and then we don't have enough room for the main course. We ordered the eggplant salad (patlıcan salatası), white cheese (beyaz peynir - everyone calls it feta, but feta is different in taste from the Turkish white cheese) and melon (kavun), green bell peppers in yogurt sauce, sea bass in a curry sauce (yess! curry sauce!), red gurnard (kırlangıç) fish in a spicy sauce and a mixed green salad. All the appetizers were tasty.

At most seafood restaurant, you can order one portion of an appetizer and share it easily with 4 people (not major portions, but still enough to go around), but at Set Fish, the portions are smaller so we had to order double portions of some.

To accompany our meal, my brother-in-law and I ordered a small bottle of Tekirdağ rakı (similar to ouzo but not as sweet) while my sis and mom had Cola Zero. I said we ordered a half bottle, but Set Fish does not have 1/2 bottles of rakı.. rather they "approximate" how much you are drinking and serve from the full bottle. We also received toasted white bread: but we prefer whole wheat and for some reason, it took an extra long time for the bread to arrive - even though baskets of white bread was being delivered to other tables at great speed!

We only ordered two hot appetizers: fried calamari and a dish called "Çin Lokma" which is fish balls with sweet and sour sauce. Both were very good and as you can see, some "Chinese" ingredients have made it into the dishes of Set Fish's dishes! They also use soy sauce in some.

What we ate doesn't sound like a lot... but take my word for it.. it was! By the time you eat "a little of this and a little of that" with LOTS of bread, you do get stuffed!

My nephew Arman is 10 years old and as a typical adolescent... he didn't eat any of the appetizers we ordered! One day he will indulge in these wonderful tastes! But, he does like fish - but mainly the smaller fish and fried! He had two choices today ... istavrit (horse mackerel) or barbunya (red mullet): he chose istavrit.

He ate as much as a typical skinny 10 year-old eats and then immediately he ordered a gooey dessert called a "volcano" (it is warm halvah with chocolate sauce and a side of vanilla ice cream). Of course, we ate the rest of his fish which was very good.

Since, we were basically full.. we decided to order one fish and share it. Palamut (bonito) is in season now and my mom likes this fish alot, so that's what we ordered. Normally, bonito should be fried.. but we asked that half be fried and the other half grilled.

With great anticipation, we waited for the fish to arrive. All fish dishes at seafood restaurants are served with a side of sliced tomatoes, sliced raw red onions and a few leaves of arugula. Unfortunately, this was the best part of this dish!!! Disappointingly, even though the fish was very fresh, the chef killed it! It had absolutely no taste.. it wasn't seasoned at all.. and we think that the oil he used to cook the fish was not "fresh" enough and probably used to cook too many fish! We were happy that we only ordered one!

We topped off our meal with espresso and tea - no dessert. It was nearly 4:00pm now and I felt like I had gone through the ringer! My sis felt the same way! My mom is 85 years old and has a hearing problem, so she did not "hear" most of the noise and my brother-in-law never likes to "rock the boat", so he didn't say anything and kids will be kids - Arman was having fun building a boat with 2 large plastic water bottles, napkins and toothpicks - and making friends with the other kids at the restaurant!

Like I previously said, between the noise from the expanding awning, the noise from the tables packed with families with babies and children (the acoustics were pretty bad) added to the noise pollution, so we were more than ready to leave! The service was good, but not great... the waiters are very good, but the bus boys left a lot to be desired and were a bit scattered!

We asked for our bill and knew we wouldn't be thing about Set Fish is that the prices are very reasonable! Our bill for 5 people was 163 TL! I can't remember all the prices, but the fish my nephew had was 10 TL, the one we had was 25 TL, half a bottle of rakı was 35 TL - so we paid about 93 TL for the other stuff: the most expensive was the mixed green salad at 20 TL! There is also a minimal küver (or cover charge) for water and bread (1,5 TL/person).

All in all.. did we have a nice day? Yes... Was it a great day and meal... no!  I must admit... I am bit of a snob! I give tremendous importance to a venue's ambiance... service... food.. etc. as I have been going out to all sorts of restaurants since I was a mere child! Dad really spoiled us too as he was in the hotel industry, so my sis and I learned the "finer" things in life at an early age. But, then again, every meal and every venue cannot be perfect - in fact no place is! But, you try to find the optimum environment at each outing. I'm not going to say don't go to Set Fish... that would be silly! If it was really bad, I wouldn't have even written about it or gone many times myself. I'm just saying... just manage your expectations! Who knows, you might even run into me there one day!

Finally, make sure you have cash with you when you go to Set Fish as credit cards are not accepted. (Haydar Aliyev Caddesi No. 18, Kireçburnu; Tel: (0212) 262 04 11; There website is in Turkish only and you cannot make reservations for lunch on Sundays.

Now... if you ask me, "so what is your favorite seafood restaurant in Istanbul? My answer - hands down - is Bebek Balıkçısı (; Tel: (0212) 263 34 47) in Bebek. The food is always incredible... the service always up to par... the ambiance superb... reservations always a must.. not noisy... cosy... right on the waterfront... and expensive, but worth every penny! I like to "save" going to Bebek Balıkçısı for more special occasions and dinner versus lunch. 


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bodrum Finale: "The Wedding"

Dear readers,

If you have been following my posts re: Bodrum, you know the whole purpose of my recent trip to Bodrum was to attend the wedding of my good friend Zeyno Gürses to Batu Dölay - a wonderful guy! They make such a great couple and I am soooo happy that they found each other! Zeyno will continue to use her maiden name and is now Zeyno Gürses Dölay (this has become more and more common in Turkey - especially among women in the work force)

As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I arrived in Bodrum a few days before the wedding - on Thursday (the wedding was on Saturday, September 10). We had a fun filled bacherolette party on Thursday night (see earlier post) and then I had a action packed day on Friday running around the Bodrum peninsula (see earlier post). I decided that I would take it easy the day of the wedding, so that I had enough energy for the evening festivities!

So... I hung out at the pool at my hotel all day and prepared my first post on Bodrum - before heading out for a "late" lunch before going to the hairdresser.

The wedding was going to start at 7:00pm with cocktails, but Zeyno asked me to arrive earlier - around 6:00pm to join the wedding party's pre-wedding preparations.

I don't know about you - but I am really bad at making sure I eat at weddings, cocktail parties and all sorts of other events. I am tooooo busy enjoying myself to get something to eat (unless a waiter walks around with canapes) and that spells TROUBLE with capital letters - as I love my wine!

So... that is why I decided to eat before going to the hairdresser and went to Liman Köftecisi, right on Neyzen Tevfik Street (a few blocks from my hotel) and around the corner from the hairdresser.

I decided I needed "meat" or protein to keep my energy up and besides.. I mentioned this place in an earlier post and I just HAD to have the "Liman Köfte" special before leaving Bodrum!

Liman Köfte "special"
Köfte is the Turkish version of a meatball and is usually oval and not round. It is a main course unto itself and prepared in a variety of ways - grilled, fried, sometimes stuffed with kaşar cheese (similar to a mild cheddar cheese) and typically served with a side of rice pilaf and grilled tomato slices and roasted green peppers. You can also have a köfte sandwich if on the run.

As you can see from the picture, the Liman Köftecisi restaurant's "house" special köfte resembles a kebab. Small pieces of pita bread is topped with a plain yogurt and tomato sauce (with out without garlic) and the round köfte (which has been sliced in half) is placed on top and the plate is further adorned with tomato slices and green peppers. If you like to eat "Turkish style" and like plain yogurt, you will definitely like this dish! However, if you don't, Liman also serves plain grilled köfte as well as köfte stuffed with kaşar cheese.

Normally, if you are very hungry, you would order a piyaz salad (navy bean) with sliced onions and parsley to accompany this dish - but it was more than enough for me and I left most of the pita bread because I am just eating TOO MUCH lately and I am NOT happy that I am gaining weight!

The menu at Liman Köftecisi also includes a few starters, salads and other mains and desserts. The prices are very moderate and this dish is the most expensive meal on the menu at 12.5 TL.

So, if you do go to Bodrum... definitely stop by Liman Köftecisi. They are open daily from noon to about midnight and usually very crowded. (Neyzen Tevfik Caddesi No. 172;  Tel: (0252) 316 50 60 - www.limankö

After a very quick lunch, I went to the hairdresser and then back to hotel to change and then jumped into a taxi to go to wedding site.

The wedding was being held at Bianca Beach Club in Bardakçı Bay, which is about 2 km from my hotel and a 11.5 TL cab ride away.

Located on the waterfront on the grounds of the Virgin Hotel (I really don't have anything nice to say about this hotel unfortunately, so I won't say anything except that the location is great, but the hotel needs a MAJOR upheaval!), the independently managed Bianca Beach Club has been at this location for the past two summer seasons: previously the beach club was in Gölköy. It is owned by Emre Ergani, a well-known Istanbul based "guru" on the night life scene with many popular venues in Istanbul, Bodrum and Çeşme (i.e. Biber Bar).

Zeyno, the bride was almost ready when I arrived and a flutter of friends and family were running around like chickens without heads... either having hair and make-up done, having pictures taken or like the groom - gulping down Johnnie Walker Black scotch (this is the group I joined)! I of course, immediately had a picture taken with the beautiful bride and my friend!

Now, let's fast forward to the wedding ceremony because I don't want to bore you with all the details... the ceremony itself was performed by a justice of the peace, the necessary documents were signed and the bride and groom were announced as husband and wife as tons of rice flew through the air!

Typical Turkish weddings are very quick - usually 5 - tops 10 minutes long! Also, there is no religious ceremony conducted - especially in more modern Turkish families. Even if there is a religious ceremony held, it is never done at the same time as the official ceremony.

Fast forward to end of wedding... we had a great time! There was lots of eating (yes... I did hit the buffet table this time as there was some delicious food!), drinking and dancing to DJ music. Also there was a FANTASTIC percussionist... Tufan Inci (aka Tufi - who really kicked up the beat at the end of the evening!

Just some final words about Bianca Beach ( before I end this post... The beach club is very spacious with a sundeck stretching out over the water too.

In season, Bianca Beach is home to the young and trendy vacationers primarly from Istanbul. Beach club by day, it is a club and restaurant by night. For more info, you can visit their website.

I spent Sunday morning sleeping in... packing and just relaxing at Kahve Dünyası at the Milta Bodrum Marina before I took a taxi to the airport for my 4:35pm flight home.

If you read my first post on Bodrum, I had mentioned that I took the Havaş Bus into town, but on the way home, I was too tired to bother with going to the bus terminal. The bus departs two hours before a THY (Turkish Airlines) flight ... in my case, it would have been at 2:30pm. I would have had to take a taxi to the bus terminal which would have cost about 12 TL and then pay 18 TL for the bus... but, I wanted to "treat" myself on the way home. So, I spoke to the taxi stand across the street from my hotel... the "normal" flat fee to the airport from Bodrum (prices change according to which village you are living from) is currently 90 TL, so I bargained! I didn't want to pay this much and paid the price (75 TL) I was willing to go up too! So, if you are in the same situation - try your luck! More than likely, a taxi driver will accept the price you offer!

Finally, I wish my friend Zeyno and her husband Batu ALL THE HAPPINESS IN THE WORLD - which they so deserve! I can't wait to see them when they return from their honeymoon!


Monday, September 12, 2011

BODRUM Part II/Maça Kızı... Kuum Beach... Tango and more!

Dear readers,

After a whirlwind 4 days in Bodrum, I came back home last night and let me tell you - I am exhausted!!! But with me, this is always the case.. "I always need a vacation from my vacation!"

My flight was at 4:35pm.. and by the time I walked through my door it was 7:30pm, but I did unpack and did a wash before crashing at about 11:00pm.

I woke up at about 7:30am and had some errands to run this morning and then I came home and did a major cleaning! My "Luka" is still with his aunt, so I took the opportunity to vacuum and mop... Luka for some reason goes NUTS when I vacuum!

Now... that this is done and I'm waiting for my honey to come home, I decided to prepare my second post from my trip to Bodrum... there will be a Part 3 - "The Wedding", but at a later date. Now that I am back, I have a couple of projects that I MUST start working on... I do have to earn a living!

Now... let's return to Bodrum!!!

On Friday morning... after a night out at Yasu Meyhane (Tavern) I woke up in pain!  I did mention that we drank a lot of rakı right? Well, it was still in my system in the morning!

I dragged myself to the terrace of my hotel for breakfast (mainly coffee!) before breakfast service ended at 10:00am.

View from Marina Vista Hotel Terrace

Marina Vista Hotel Terrace
The view from the terrace was gorgeous... but once again, it was a super hot day, so I couldn't sit very long.

Then... I purchased a couple of  newspapers and hung out by the pool for an hour or so to get some sun. Afterwards, since I was still tired, I took a nap and then started my day - at around 1:00pm!

I had a "free" day today and wasn't getting together with anyone, so I decided to to go my old stomping ground - Göltürkbükü! This village in the Bodrum Peninsula is about 20 km from the city center and it is often called the "St Tropez" of Turkey because of the chi chi hotels, clubs, restaurants and homes of the "rich and famous" of Turkey. This is also the place where the glitterrati of Turkey and the International scene reside/visit during the summer season (June-August).

The main question was how to get there - the obvious choice being a taxi, but it is very expensive! So, I left the hotel and starting walking down Neyzen Tevfik Street towards the center of town as I decided what I would do and have included some more photographs of this popular beautiful tree lined street with cafes, restaurants and clubs on one side and the other lined with yacht charters which can be rented for daily tours of the nearby bays and coves.

If in the area and you are in the mood for a "good" cup of coffee (cold or hot), you can stop by Starbucks or Caffe Piu ( I had every intention of taking a break at the latter, but, alas it was full so I just continued walking. Besides coffee, Caffe Piu has a menu with some Italian treats (pizza, pasta, etc.) But, along the way, I asked a taxi stand the "flat fee" cost of going to Göltürkbükü and upon hearing that it was 70 TL - I decided to take a minibus instead. By no means am I cheap, but this is a ridiculous amount of money for a 20 km trip. Since Bodrum is a summer resort town, taxis tend to be expensive! So, this meant that I had to go to the bus terminal off of Cevat Şakir Street which was about 10 blocks from where I was when I made this decision! Thank god, I like to walk!

Caffe Piu
As I was getting closer to the Belediye Meydanı (Municipality Square), where Neyzen Tevfik Street begins, I noticed the landscape had changed (and for the better) since I last visited Bodrum last summer. The restaurants close to the square had "moved" as of November, 2010! The outdoor seating areas of these side by side restaurants used to be lined along the street and pedestrians walked through the middle of the restaurants! Now, the outdoor dining areas are adjacent to the restaurant's indoor seating areas - making it better for both customers of the eateries as well as pedestrians.

Körfez Restaurant

new pedestrian walkway
Körfez, which has been around since 1927 (at this location for the last 10+ years) is one of my favorite modestly priced seafood restraurants and is located at No. 2, Neyzen Tevfik Street (Tel: (0252) 313 82 48) and I highly recommend you stop by for lunch or dinner. Besides seafood, the menu includes starters and meat and chicken dishes as well.

Right when you get to the Belediye Meydanı and walk up towards the left, the name of this street is Cevat Şakir Street and leads you directly to the bus terminal. But, first I made a pit stop by walking straight and into the "Çarşı" (Market) area. This small area is a maze of little streets lined with all sorts of shops, eateries, banks, etc. where not only can you buy a very fancy watch for thousands of dollars, but also a t-shirt for $5! You can also grab a bite to eat at the Turkish style restaurants... to include Köfteci Bilal'in Yeri at Yeni Çarşı 2. Sokak. Until very recently, this place used to be called Özsakallı Köfte and very well known in the area for its köfte (Turkish style meatballs) and Turkish dishes. However, the partners had a falling out and split so, the name was changed, but it is still managed by one of the partners.


Köfteci Bilal'ın Yeri (previously called Özsakallı Köfte)
Now, back on Cevat Şakir Street, I walked to the bus terminal (otogar) without stopping anywhere else.

Cevat Şakir Street

Bus Terminal (Otogar)
The minibuses used to travel between the villages are all similar to the above picture. I asked to find out where the minibus to Göltürkbükü was and waited a few moments for it to show up. Since I was one of the first passengers, I sat in the front seat by the driver. The ride is 4,5 TL/one way (a real bargain) and I paid 9 TL because I didn't want anyone to sit next to me. We waited for about 10 minutes for it to fill up and then we were on our way. The first village we passed on our way was Torba. There are several very nice hotels right on the waterfront in Torba, otherwise, it is a very residential area with many summer homes.

Torba Bay
About 25 minutes after leaving Bodrum, we arrived in Göltürkbükü and I got off at the final stop which is located right by the bridge that connects the "St. Tropez" side of the Göltürkbükü waterfront to the more modest "other" side!

Göltürkbükü Bay

The "Bridge"

I just took a picture by the bridge and decided to walk in this area later - it was nearly 3:00pm and I was very hungry and I wanted to go to Maça Kızı Hotel first.

Maça Kızı
Maça Kızı ( is located on a hilltop at the furthest point on the Göltürkbükü boardwalk on a lovely private bay. It can be accessed from the boardwalk but since it was far from where I was, I decided to take a taxi.

I go to Maça Kızı on each one of my trips to Bodrum and a few years ago, I also stayed at the hotel and let me tell you right off the top - it is very expensive, but if you can afford it, worth a visit.

The hotel's beach club and bar are on the waterfront and the hotel's fine dining restaurant one level up.

Maça Kızı Restaurant

Maça Kızı Restaurant
Normally, Maça Kızı is packed to the hilt with "beautiful" people from around the world.. but usually the crowds die down after the first week of September, so I was very lucky and easily got a seat at the bar.

After first soaking in the view, I then asked to see a menu. The chef at Maça Kızı is Aret Sahakyan and he works wonders in the kitchen. The bar menu is limited compared to the dinner menu and includes mainly salads, starters and sandwiches. I was a bit indecisive, but in the end.. I ordered a lahmacun (Turkish version of a pizza, but prepared with minced meat and in this case, topped with parsley and sumac, a spicy herb) and a glass of white wine.

Like I said, Maça Kızı is expensive... the price of the lahmacun was 30 TL (normally costs about 4-5 TL at a meat & kebab restaurant), but the wine was reasonable at 16 TL. However, cocktails are on the expensive side and start at 35 TL. If you do not prefer spicy food, make sure to tell the waiter if you order this dish, because it is very spicy - thank god, I love spicy food! Also, the bill includes a 12% service charge, so you need not to tip further unless you want to of course!

I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and left Maça Kızı around 5:00pm and decided to walk along the Göltürkbükü boardwalk for a while before heading to my next stop. At the exit to Maça Kızı from the restaurant level, there is a walkway that you can pass through down some flight of stairs to reach the boardwalk and that is what I did.

When I reached the sea level, I was amazed at how empty Göltürkbükü was! In fact, it had almost already shut down! Most of the seaside venues had already closed and the ones that were open - like Maki Hotel, Ship Ahoy and Divan Palmira Hotel had hardly any customers! But, this is not very unusual for Göltürkbükü - the season is shorter here than other places in Bodrum.

Göltürkbükü boardwalk - general view

Maki Hotel Bar & Lounge

Divan Palmira Hotel restaurant & beach club

Ship Ahoy
I will give you brief info on the places I mentioned above. The Maki Hotel ( has changed ownership a few times in the last few years, but it is a nice hotel (I stayed there about 5 years ago) with a good restaurant, but even though I had stayed in a suite with a seaview, the room was quite small. Ship Ahoy is a longstanding bar with a very big following and gets very very crowded in-season: the DJ is very good and the drinks expensive. Next door is the 5-star deluxe Divan Bodrum Palmira ( which tends to attract an older crowd. I stayed at this hotel a couple of times and the rooms are very spacious, elegantly decorated with huge bathrooms. The rooms have a seaview (limited number) or garden view.

Even though it was about 5:30pm, it was quite hot, so I decided not to walk on the other side of the bridge and ended my tour at the Divan Bodrum Palmira and took a taxi to Kuum Hotel, backtracking towards the Göltürkbükü village center.

Located on a hilltop with a magnificent view of the Göltürkbükü Bay, what strikes you first is the very interesting architecture of the Kuum Hotel ( Kuum opened several years ago and I had the opportunity to see most of their guest rooms and they are exquisite! All rooms have a seaview, they are very spacious with a contemporary design and rain showers, so you can imagine, it is expensive!

This year, the managment of the hotel's beach club and restaurant was given to Metin Fadıllıoğlu, a name well-known on the Istanbul restaurant and nightlife scene: he is the owner of Ulus 29, Club 29 and Nişantaşı Brasserie ( I wanted to see what he had done differently with the venues and I liked what I saw. First, the beach club section now "appears" to be bigger because the bar was moved from the center of the space making more room for lounges and seating areas (I didn't take any pictures of this area because I did not want to impose on the "elite" customers who were sunbathing). But, what really impressed me was the restaurant, which is to the right of the beach club down a short walkway and where I hung out and had a watermelon martini (actually 2!!)

Kuum Restaurant

Kuum Lounge (to the left of restaurant)

Kuum Lounge Bar
It was sooooo lovely and peaceful here that it was the perfect end to my visit to Göltürkbükü. The prices of cocktails start at 25 TL (mine was 30 TL) and the bill includes a 10% tip, so you need not to tip further, unless you want too!

I left Kuum and crossed the street and waited for a minibus to pass by instead of going back to the original point of departure, which is a 11,5 TL cab ride away. I only waited about 10 minutes and once again was lucky enough to sit in the front seat by the driver and paid double so that no one else sat next to me when we picked up passengers along the way.

By 7:30pm I was back in Bodrum and since it was a lovely night, I decided to walk back to my hotel.. actually to Tango, which is right next door and where I planned on having dinner.

Compared to Göltürkbükü, Bodrum was very lively and crowded. This is not unusual as this is the main area in the peninsula.

I want to mention another place that I recommend you try if you plan on visiting Bodrum. As you walk down Cevat Şakir Street towards the Belediye Meydanı, a couple of blocks beforehand, on the right hand side of the street right by the fruit and vegetable stores is a little alley... called Meyhaneler Çarşısı... a.k.a. Tavern Row. If you don't know about it, it is very easy to miss!

Meyhaneler Çarşısı

Meyhaneler Çarşısı

Fishmonger at Meyhaneler Çarşısı
I only found out about this area a couple of years ago even though I have been visiting Bodrum for years! There are about 7 taverns/restaurants, a couple of butchers and fishmongers on this small L-shaped alley. When you dine at one of the restaurants, you purchase your own fish or meat and then the restaurant only charges you for cooking your meal (which is about 5 TL now). Each tavern has about 10-15 hot and cold appetizers which are moderately priced which you can order to accompany your meal. If you want to get some "local" color, I highly recommend you visit one of these taverns. And.. as the night progresses, street gypsies will entertain you with typical Turkish music. Don't forget to order rakı to enjoy your typical Turkish experience... but of course, wine and beer are also served!

One final place I want to mention in the area and on Neyzen Tevfik Street.. at about the half way point when walking towards the Milta Bodrum Marina is Küba Restaurant & Bar (

Küba has been around for almost 15 years now and is still the hottest restaurant and bar in town frequented by the glitterati from around the world. It is not very big, with a small dining area - the food is very very good and the bar always lively and jumping with great music and cheer. It gets very crowded on the weekends, so it is best to make a reservation - even for the bar! (Tel: (0252) 313 44 50).

I finally arrived at Tango at around 8:30pm and I was lucky to find a place to sit as I hadn't made a reservation (; Tel: (0252) 316 08 98).

Tango, owned by an Istanbulite and friend, opened a couple of years ago and became an instant hit! So much so that now they have a branch at the Yalıkavak and Turgutreis Marinas along with a smaller eatery at the Oasis Shopping Mall in Bodrum.

As its name suggests, Tango specializes in meats from Argentina and prepared Argentinian style. The menu includes a good selection of appetizers, mains (dry aged meats) and desserts and even though I didn' have it this time, I recommend the "Parisienne". I also love the decor of Tango - you really feel like you are in a restaurant in Argentina!

After ordering my meal (thinly sliced tenderloin of beef on a toasted bun with a side of grilled vegetables and french fries), a plate of olive oil with olives, herbs and spices and warm homemade grain bread is served to tide you over.

I am probably one of but a few Turkish people (including men) who does not mind dining alone - especially at a trendy and chic restaurant! I do travel quite a bit - sometimes with friends or family, or sometimes alone - so you get used to it AND... I always wind up making new friends!

In fact, that is what happened at Tango! A little while after I sat down, 2 guys (not Turkish) came and sat at a table for 4 next to me. Hearing their conversation, I realized they were from Scandanavia, but not sure which country. A little while later, another friend joined them and to get to his seat, he made a funny comment, which I responded to and we all laughed. This was a segway into a conversation we would wind up having as the evening progressed! I honestly don't remember what topic started the conversation, but I had the opportunity to meet Calle (the 3rd arrival), Per and Bengt (the first two to arrive) and Michael.. who was the last to arrive. I found out that they were from Sweden and that Calle, who has his own business, currently lives in Barcelona. We also realized that we were staying at the same hotel and we also spoke about Istanbul, which they have visited before coming to Bodrum. Calle was leaving Bodrum early the next morning, so I wouldn't be seeing him again.. but when we said goodnight, I said "hope to see you at breakfast" to Per and Bengt. We exchanged cards and said let's keep in touch as they planned on coming to Turkey again and probably doing some business as well... so guys.. if you are reading this post - HI!!! I hope you are all well! I didn't get a chance to speak to Michael because he came late and was not staying at our hotel.. 

All in all... it was a lovely day capped off with a great meal and meeting new people was a definite bonus! I stopped by Kahve Dünyası (across the street from my hotel) for an iced coffee which I took back to my room and gulped down before going to sleep - I am not one of those people who can't sleep after drinking caffeine - and fell asleep right away! The next day of my trip is "The Wedding" of my good friend Zeyno... so I have to be fresh!