Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Levent Çarşı: My "Routine" Food Shopping Neighborhood

Dear readers,

We all have our routines and habits (good and bad) right? Now, since I'm a food, travel & lifestyle blogger - I want share one of my routines: I go to Levent Çarşı on a weekly basis to do food shopping ...
Levent Çarşı, Istanbul
Of course, I could go to a supermarket and pick up everything I want, but when it comes to certain foodstuffs, I'm picky! 

Çarşı means "market", "bazaar", "shopping center" in Turkish so Levent Çarşı is an "open market" of sorts...

Why Levent Çarşı? Well... in the years I lived in Istanbul (over 20 years now), I've always lived in the area. My deceased parents owned an apartment in Levent since the late 1960s, so during our visits to Istanbul as a family and after moving back to Istanbul in 1995, I lived at home. I moved to Levazım in 2010 and for the past 2,5 years I have been living in Ulus (about 1,5km from Levent) ... so, Levent is my neighborhood.

Although about only 3-4 blocks in radius, Levent Çarşı is packed with banks, fastfood eateries, pharmacies, stationery stores, pastry shops, butchers, bakeries, fishmonger, delicatessens, florists, herb shop, dry fruits & nuts shops, watch repair shop etc.. It is also a hop, skip and jump from the Levent Metro station, and Metrocity Shopping Mall. 

So, I routinely go to Levent Çarşı once a week to make my "picky" purchases! In this post, I will only mention my "routine" stops, but feel free to visit for yourself - I'm sure you will find a shop to your liking too!

My first stop is Işıklar Et ve Gıda or Şarküteri (delicatessen), where I have been purchasing beyaz peyniri (white or feta cheese) for over 20 years! I've tried buying white cheese at other stores, but for some reason, none of them live up to the cheese I buy at Işıklar. 
Işıklar Et ve Gıda, Levent Çarşı - Istanbul
In the "old days" before health regulations were put in place, white cheese was sold directly out of tin cans that the deli purchased from different purveyors throughout the country. Today, the same white cheese is packaged. I like the quality of the "cow's milk" white cheese which is not too salty, soft or hard and the price is comparable to "supermarket" cheeses. 

Like most present day "deli's" in Istanbul, besides a wide selection of local cheeses, Işıklar also carries a nice selection of deli meats, olives, homemade hot & cold Turkish meze, limited amount of "supermarket"  local & international products and is also a butcher. So, they can be a "one stop" shopping haven too!

My next stop (but not every week as I have to watch my waistline), is the simit stand a few steps from Işıklar Şarküteri.
Simit stand, Levent Çarşı - Istanbul
Although there are now many shops where you can purchase simit at Levent Çarşı, I prefer buying mine from this stand. I'm sure it has changed hands,but this simit stand has been on this corner for the past 20+ years! I don't know where they purchase the simit they sell, but it's always delicious & crunchy - just the way I like it!  

Merkez Şarküteri is also another longstanding deli in the neighborhood. 
Merkez Şarküteri, Levent Çarşı - Istanbul
Merkez has been around since 1966... it's a little pricier than Işıklar, but their array of goods also include international cheeses, pork products (deli meats only), dried fruits & nuts and alcohol. Their hot & cold meze are absolutely delicious and top-notch, but since I'm always trying to watch my weight... I only routinely stop by to purchase black olives. Although the price is higher, the quality is very good and definitely worth it.

For the past year, I added a new store to my "routine": 
Onur Et Galerisi, Levent Çarşı - Istanbul
Onur Et, or butcher is not a newcomer to the neighborhood but it is now on my "path". Previously, they used to be at another location at Levent Çarşı and not really on my radar. But, I'm happy I discovered this butcher. I'm a big fan of tenderloin of beef (which I purchase in Ulus at Gourmet Garage), but I do stop by Onur Et to pick up other cuts of more modestly priced quality meat such as schnitzel, sirloin steak and ground meat (but not prepackaged).

I love bread! Although I have gone through periods where I haven't put a morsel in my mouth - I can't (and won't) do it forever! So, Komşufırın is an excellent bakery for bread lovers!
Komşufırın, Levent Çarşı - Istanbul
Komşufırın has branches all over the city and in fact, opened a 2nd branch in Levent. My favorites are Komşufırın's rye bread (they slice too), buckwheat bread and whole wheat or sour dough sandwich breads which are all baked on premises daily, and run out quickly. Other goodies which I purchase from time to time is their homemade pound cakes (apple, chocolate, etc.) and savory pastries - but only when I have company coming over! 

Last, but definitely not least I stop by New Pet Market to pick up goodies for my honey Luka before heading to the local major supermarket to pick up other basic goods before returning home. 
New Pet Market, Levent Çarşı - Istanbul
Luka, a Maltese, will be 7 years old in October and he is super spoiled! He came into my life when he was 7 months old on May 10, 2011 and is the best thing that happened to me! He lives on treats and "people" food (rarely eats his dog food unfortunately), so I stop by New Pet Market every week to replenish his supply. However, this shop also has a very good selection of other doggie products like clothing, collars, leashes, shampoos etc and the prices are not very very expensive. I also like the fact that they deliver and the guys that run the shop have met Luka and are major animal lovers. For example, they sell lower priced dried cat & dog food which you can purchase to feed strays and dogs and most importantly - they do not sell pets! I've been a customer since they opened over 8 years ago and will continue to be one! 

I hope you liked my mini "routine" tour of Levent Çarşı... but once again, I say visit for yourself and make your "own routines"! Feel free to share your experiences with me!

Happy shopping!

Stay well,

Levent Çarşı - Istanbul



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