Saturday, May 4, 2013


Dear readers,

The countdown has begun! About two weeks ago I wrote my first post about Gastro Istanbul where I gave you an overview of the gastronomy event that will take place for the very first time between May 9-12, 2013 at Küçükçiftlik Park in Istanbul. In this post, I will give you more detailed information on the restaurants, cafes, clubs, catering companies and culinary schools that will be participating as well as some other interesting tidbits to entice you to attend! 

Also, note that approximately 200 TURYID (Turkish Restaurant and Entertainment Association) member restaurants will be offering special festival menus as their venues between May 7-12, 2013 to show their support of this important festival. Admission to the Festival is 10 TL for adults and 5 TL for students and children under the age of 12. Tickets can be purchased at the door or from Biletix ( 

If you are visiting my blog for the first time, maybe before reading this post, you might want to check out my previous post for the Festival's overview info.

As of today, 37 venues will be participating at the Festival. Each will have their own stand and offer visitors a variety of their dishes which will be priced between 5 TL and 20 TL/each.

It will be impossible for me to write detailed information on each and every venue, in fact, although I am familiar with all by name, there are some places on this list that I haven't gone too... 

Bebek Balıkçısı... is my favorite seafood restaurant in Istanbul! Located right on the Bosphorus in Bebek (hence it's name), the food and service at this modestly sized restaurant is truly top notch (and of course, so are the prices, but well worth it!)!

Bebek Balıkçısı
Always, always make a reservation before going and don't make the mistake I do... don't overload on the delicious starters and make sure to leave room for the catch of the day!

Park Fora is another seafood restaurant participating at the Festival and is also located along the Bosphorus waterfront in Kuruçeşme (a few blocks from  Reina Night Club). I've heard wonderful reviews about this place, but unfortunately have not yet had a chance to try it out for myself...

Park Fora/Kuruçeşme
I don't know what more I can say about Lucca that I haven't said already in my previous posts!

Lucca is always on the top of my list of places to go and is my "home away from home"... you can say I'm a "regular" and I love their food, service (the wait staff has been around for years!) is excellent, the crowd and ambiance is always great - not to mention the perfectly prepared cocktails and extensive moderately priced wine list! No matter what time of day/night you go, the energy is always high and once again, I do recommend making reservations - especially for the evenings and finding a table outside is nearly impossible, but not out of reach! In fact, as soon as I finish writing this post and walk my dog Luka, I will be going to Lucca this afternoon for a few hours to relax and spend time with my friends listening to DJ Salih Saka who will be spinning between 4:00pm - 8:00pm this evening!

For a fine dining experience, Frankie Istanbul, Mikla, Raika, Sunset Grill & Bar, Ulus 29/Food Bar 29 and Vogue should definitely be on your list of restaurants to visit in Istanbul...

Frankie Istanbul is one of the "newbies" among the rest on this list. Open since 2012, it is located on the terrace of the Sofa Hotel in Nişantaşı, but independently operated and managed. Besides having a good selection of International/Mediterranean style dishes, you can also visit their bar/lounge for drinks and there is live music (jazz, contemporary, etc) several nights every week...

Frankie Istanbul (restaurant section)
Frankie Istanbul (lounge/bar)
Mikla also offers a superb view of the old city from it's perch on the top floor of the Marmara Pera Hotel in Tepebaşı (independently operated and managed) and also has a terrace where you can have cocktails before dinner during the summer months. The owner/chef Mehmet Gürs is a wizard in the kitchen and weeps up delectable Mediterranean/International dishes with a twist and only with the freshest and best ingredients purchased from the different regions in Turkey! 
Mikla Restaurant (from their website)
Mikla Terrace (from their website)
Raika opened a few short months ago and is located on the top floor of the Marmara Hotel in Taksim. Once again, this restaurant is also independently operated and managed from the hotel and specializes in Turkish cuisine. Besides the main dining room, there is a bar/lounge with live music on Friday nights. You can read my blog post on Raika for more detailed information.

Raika Restaurant
Sunset Grill & Bar and Ulus 29/Food Bar 29 are steps from each other on adjacent hilltops in Ulus offering magnificent views of the Bosphorus and places I enjoy to frequent as well. Both restaurants specialize in Turkish and International cuisine, but Sunset also has sushi/sashimi selections as well as Japanese cuisine. Also, Food Bar 29 is the more casual section of Ulus 29 and is adjacent to the main dining room and has a separate menu. 

Sunset Grill & Bar (from my photo archives)
Ulus 29/Food Bar 29
Vogue has been around for over 10 years (and I have been a customer since the opening night party I attended!) and also offers a lovely view of the Bosphorus from the top floor of the BJK Plaza Building in Akaretler. Their menu includes Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine as well as excellent sushi/sashimi selections. Besides the main dining room, the L-shaped terrace is open during the summer for dining as well as for "clubbing" after dinner.
Vogue Restaurant
Man of the popular cafes/bistros in town are also participating at the festival. They are: Big Chefs, Carlotta, Kırıntı, Kitchenette, Masa, Midpoint, Numnum and Sosa. The Ankara based Big Chefs has numerous branches around the city and their most impressive branch is on the waterfront in Tarabya very close to the newly re-opened Tarabya Hotel. Carlotta and Kitchenette are my two favorite cafes (once again with many branches throughout the city) and I love the different salads at Carlotta and especially the "Fit for you" section on Kitchenette's menu. Kırıntı, Midpoint and Numnum mainly attract the younger crowd. The only single location cafes on this list are Sosa (at Kanyon Shopping Mall) and Masa (IstinyePark shopping mall). Masa is especially a meeting point during the summer with a huge garden/terrace right in the center of the chichi shops (Louis Vuitton, Armani, Gucci, Dior, etc) in the outdoor square of the mall.

Big Chefs/Tarabya
Sosa and Numnum at Kanyon (from my photo archives)

Masa/IstinyePark (from my photo archives)
A potpourri of other restaurants are also represented at Gastro Istanbul. For excellent traditional Turkish cuisine, Borsa and Divan also have stands. Both have been around for many many years and Divan is part of the Divan Hotel Group and is known for offering a refined dining experience. Borsa has several branches in the city and has an excellent selection of  all types of Turkish dishes. Köşebaşı is very well-known among meat/kebab lovers and Edirne Kırkpınar Lokantası is a casual style restaurant (numerous branches throughout the city) and popular among "köfte" and fried liver lovers... Located in Baltalimanı, Portaxe is a very large restaurant with indoor/outdoor seating and quite popular with the Sunday brunch crowd and offers a superb view of the Bosphorus from it's hilltop location overlooking Baltalimanı on the Bosphorus shoreline... Let's not forget sushi lovers! Sushico (several branches) is one of Istanbul's popular sushi restaurants but includes Chinese and Thai selections as well!

Edirne Kırpınar Köfte
Da Mario and Cento per Cento specialize in Italian cuisine. The food at Da Mario is always exceptional and is one of the longest standing Italian restaurants in Istanbul and is located in a lovely 2-story villa with a garden on a secluded street in Etiler. On the other hand, Cento per Cento, a fairly newcomer is located on the posh Abdi Ipekçi Street in Nişantaşı with indoor and outdoor seating areas.

Da Mario's garden
Cento per Cento
Ca'd'Oro, Leb-i Derya, Maria'nın Bahçesi, Suada and Yalı Hatun Restaurant at the Les Ottomans Hotel round out the other venues that serve Mediterranean/International cuisine. Ca'd'Oro is located in Karaköy on the terrace of the Salt Museum with a view of the old city (refer to my blog post for additional info), while Leb-i Derya has two branches in the heart of Beyoğlu, both with lovely panoramic views of the city. Maria'nın Bahçesi has two branches in Istanbul: one in Küçükyalı on the Asian side of the city and the other in Etiler on the European side. Both are located in lovely villas with indoor and outdoor dining areas and specializes in Aegean/Greek cuisine. The chef/owner is Maria and she runs her restaurants with her two sons. Suada, which means "water island" is literally on the water in Kuruçeşme! It's an incredible spot with numerous restaurants and a swimming pool very popular during the summer! Some of the venues are open year round! Also, Suada is owned and managed by the owners of Reina Night Club, so you know you are in for a treat! Finally, Yalı Hatun is located on the deluxe boutique  Les Ottomans Hotel right on the Bosphorus in Kuruçeşme.

Leb-i Derya/Richmond Hotel (from their website)  
Les Ottomans Hotel
There are also 2 popular live music clubs participating at Gastro Istanbul too: Babylon and Hayal Kahvesi - both located in Beyoğlu. Although known more so for their lively concerts (Turkish & Internationally known musicians), they also serve food.

Hayal Kahvesi
Okay folks! We're almost done! There are 37 participating venues, so I just didn't want to list their names, but also wanted to give you brief info on all the spots too - especially useful for first time visitors!

The last participants at Gastro Istanbul are Istanbul Gourmet and Yemekhane, catering companies and the following Culinary Schools: Doors Akademi, Muftak Sanatlar Akademisi (Culinary Arts Academy of Istanbul) and USLA (International Hospitality Academy).

As you can see, the list is quite impressive and very diverse! Although this is still a drop in the bucket when it comes to the choices and selections of restaurants in Istanbul, it is a start for a "first time" every organized Gastronomy Festival!

I highly recommend that you visit Gastro Istanbul if you live or are visiting Istanbul. The Festival is open from 10:00am to 10:00pm. I'm sure you won't be disappointed and besides what I wrote about in my two blog posts, there will be so many other activities going on - from DJ and live music performances to most importantly a tent organized by the Turkish Culinary Association where there will be many panel discussions, seminars, cooking demos and more! Let's not forget the "market tent" where you can pick up fruits and vegetables to take home!

Hope to see you there!

Stay well,


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