Leyla Yvonne Ergil
Istanbul has made an impressive entrance into the realm of international fare, with restaurants cafes and even stands, preparing some unsuspecting comfort food classics from all over the world
One of the greatest challenges for expats is missing some foods from back home. But Istanbul is quickly bridging the gap with more and more places opening up that are bringing some countries’ classics to the big city.
Whether you decide to chase down those dishes you miss or to try an entirely new type of cuisine, the following are some newer venues offering different flavor profiles in some of Istanbul’s most beloved areas. This means an outing to these locales will also warrant discovering the neighborhoods that house them.
Check out these 10 new foodie trends that have made their way to Istanbul.
New York Bagel & Coffee
While Türkiye does indeed have the simit, most Americans will agree that we still tend to long for the classic bagel and lavish spread combo, that has been our go-to for breakfast. Well, New York Bagel & Coffee has you covered. Not only do they have a wide variety of freshly baked bagels daily, but they also have half a dozen spreads, including scallion and jalapeno cream cheese and prepare scrumptious bagel sandwiches, sweet and savory and also offer delivery services.
A small shop but one that does have a few outside tables, New York Bagel & Coffee makes you feel like you are visiting a neighborhood café that could be anywhere from California to New York, but indeed it is located in the heart of Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district. The neighborhood of Çukurcuma is certainly one of the most colorful with its windy roads hiding galleries and vintage shops, making this place not only a public attraction but also a spot to check out one of the trendiest areas in town.
Nata Lisboa Istanbul
Located on a side street off the historical Galata Tower in Beyoğlu, Nata Lisboa has brought Portugal’s favorite dessert to Istanbul along with a full menu of appetizing sandwiches, salads and pastries. Named after Portugal’s popular egg custard tart, the stylishly retro-decorated Nata has comfortable seating inside and out and is located in a destination that boasts Istanbul’s most awe-inspiring tower and viewing point by the way of Galata Tower and has streets housing galleries and creative crafts. Heading up the hill from where it stands will get you to Istiklal Avenue, while walking down the hill will take you into Karaköy, which with its restaurants and galleries is a hip spot of town.
While it might be tiny, Sale Pepe is a pizza shop that packs a lot of flavor and character having brought the trending Tokyo-style Neapolitan pizza to Istanbul. Located in Kadıköy’s Yeldeğirmeni neighborhood, Sale Pepe makes for the perfect spot to try this new style of pizza, which they provide using top-notch ingredients and Italian cheeses Their bubbly-crusted pies also have vegan options and innovative combos such as the Jam Session, made of stracciatella aka burrata cheese and black cherry jam. The seating is on stools and a counter from where you can watch the pizzas being prepared and they also deliver.
Turp Moda Vegan
This particular venue has transformed Turkish comfort food classics such as doner and tantuni wraps into vegan versions made from tempeh as well as a vegan pastrami sandwich. Their menu offers the opportunity to discover the new wave of developing meat substitutes for many people’s favorite meals. Operating out of a quaint shop in Kadıköy’s Moda neighborhood with half a dozen tables outside, this is another great base from which to walk the bustling streets that end up at the landscaped park-like shore of the Marmara side of the Bosphorus.
You could also just head a few doors away to Eywa Sebastian, the purveyors of the perfect San Sebastian cheesecake that is trending all over Türkiye. Theirs, lavished in chocolate or plain, are the focus of this special little shop that this summer also branched out into Bodrum’s Bitez and Yalıkavak neighborhoods.
The Taco Roll
For some reason, finding an authentic Mexican restaurant in Istanbul has always been a challenge and the newest to take it on is The Taco Roll. Located in Caddebostan and now in the new-age food court Vertical Istanbul, this restaurant has comfortable seating and all of the classics spanning from tacos to burritos, quesadillas, and nachos.
While it is definitely worth giving it a shot and will satisfy a craving, it still isn’t the truly traditional Mexican restaurant many still yearn for. Caddebostan is an area that falls right in the center of the Asian side of the city’s shopping district. Bağdat Caddesi is a wonderful avenue to stroll while looking at all the shops. But you can also head to the seaside and walk for hours in either direction along the landscaped walking and biking paths on the shore.
The spectacular new Vertical Istanbul upscale dining court is another spot to mark on your maps to try some of those most missed flavors from home. This stylish food court has options such as sushi by Ken, ribs at Markus, pizza and pasta from Nappo, and stuffed croissants from Origami Kruvasan for dessert or anytime.
One of the best bakeries in town, which also makes Portugal’s beloved natas is Morn Kadıköy, located near the Yoğurtçu Parkı, which is a shaded park that also leads to the landscaped shoreline walking path. A great place to start the day and take a long walk or bike ride to or from, Morn Kadıköy has a relaxed classic café vibe with a vast selection of freshly baked pastries to choose from.
Featuring freshly made pasta for Italian pasta classics such as lasagna and ravioli, this place is a pasta lover’s dream. With a cozy and calm atmosphere with a wealthy menu of lasagna and ravioli variations with lots of vegetarian options, Lasagna Corner is a great spot to refuel with a comfort food classic on the Asian side of the city.
Located near the Galata Tower, Koali serves up traditional Indonesian food, which may just be a cuisine you didn’t realize you were missing. The comfortable seating of the restaurant from which to experience the atmosphere of this historical and inspiring spot in the city makes it well worth trying this less familiar Southeast Asian cuisine. Koali is great for the adventurous soul and would make for the ideal conversation-inspiring date night experience.