Top 10 Unique Restaurants in Istanbul
There are many unique restaurants in Istanbul in addition to many of the historical and multi-cultural assets of the city. You can visit these unique restaurants in Istanbul for eating, drinking and having unforgettable nights. In our article, you will find both good spots to taste Turkish cuisine or international cuisines and, places that you can have one-of-a-kind Istanbul nights.
Smelt & Co
Located in one of the quiet streets of Balat, Smelt & Co is a chef restaurant where experience is at the forefront with its distinct flavors on fish. The restaurant’s location, on a quiet road with no other venues around, is undoubtedly part of the experience. The little restaurant, which only takes bookings, has only 2-3 tables. Breakfast is also available at the restaurant. Smelt & Co is a must-visit for foodies who enjoy unique flavors and are willing to try new things.
Glouton, one of the unique restaurants in Istanbul, is influenced from Paris and you can see signs of it from the menu and the atmosphere. The restaurant, which is located in Asmalımescit, has tables facing the street, just as in Paris, and an open kitchen in the internal space. Booking a reservation would be advantageous, as they gain a large number of regulars in a short period of time. While the restaurant is small, it is best to have this experience in groups of two or three individuals. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and supper daily. Bulut Butter, hummus, Labne zahter, halloumi, olive tapanade, scallions, apple fennel sausage, and “Salsiccia Breakfast” with forest fruit and “Sweet Pancakes” are popular breakfast options. There are also “Glouton Cheese Love” with cheeses and “Glouton Charcuterie” with delicatessen goods. One of the restaurant’s specialty dishes is oysters, which are only available in a few places in Istanbul. Prosecco goes well with oysters. It’s a lot of fun.
A very special location in Harbiye has been serving his regulars for over 50 years. Back in the 1970s, many offices in the district liked to relax in a bar after work. Pub Avni, as its name suggests, was a location where people went after work. Nowadays, the bar fills up about midnight and frequently has live music. Yet, some regulars may still be seen in the bar, discussing about politics while sipping from their raki. Pub Avni is a particularly unique place to observe how Turkish urban behaviors back in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s also fun to try the restaurant’s appetizers and old-school cocktails.
Aztek is an other uniq place considered one of the first speakeasy bar in the city. This is place in a quite street of Şişli without any sign showing the location just for people who know them. But it’s not enough just knowing them also they need to know you in order to be accepted to the place. The unique experience in the place comes from the times they serve and the dishes they serve at the middle of the night. This is a place which people visit mostly after going to other bars/clubs to continue the night. The place is open until 4-5 am in the morning! The place has an environment like an old tavern and plays Turkish music. No matter what time it is, you can eat some of the most favored traditional Turkish dishes here such as: “Mantı”, “Sucuklu Yumurta”, “Kıymalı yaprak sarma”! There are also all kind of beverages with alcohol such as: rakı, whisky, cocktails, beer and all other that you can think of.
Parantez is a wine & delicatessen bar in Karaköy. The place has a friendly atmosphere where you can drink beer or wine and eat tapas while talking with your friends and looking out onto one of Karakoy’s main streets. In this street, it’s fun to watch people walk by. On the menu, you can order a charcuterie plate, cheeses, delicatessens, or smoked fish of your choice, hand-made pastas, paella, and some appetizers that are based on street foods. If you are a cocktail lover, cocktails are also available and recommended.
Fıccın is a very old and symbolic place located in lovely streets of Asmalımescit, which you can have delicious traditional Turkish cuisine. The restaurant has a wide menu which offers special dishes of the Turkish and Circassian cuisine such as: mantı, gözleme, vegetable dishes (artichoke with Basil is recommended), Hünkar Beğendi, and İçli Köfte. Special desert of the place is sweet semolina pastry with poppy seeds. Both the indoor and outdoor space has a friendly atmosphere. You can visit the place all day which is also a nice and casual alternative for dinner. If you want to have a dinner with rakı or beer, this is a good place to be. On a night like this, our suggestion is to start with cold appetizers such as Haydari, Atom, Eggplant salad… Then continue with fried liver served with onions (yaprak ciğer), shrimp casserole or fried horse mackerel (available seasonly). Zucchini hash browns are highly recommended.
In Taksim, Noh Radio is a bar that stands out for its real DJ performances. DJs from different parts of the world come to this place to play electronic, house, trance, and other types of music. You’re guaranteed to have one of your craziest nights here. Some of the signature cocktails at Noh Radio are the Argoman, Whiskey Disco, and Mars. Also the area is one often coolest district where locals hang out.
Cuma is a very authentic restaurant which is located in Çukurcuma, the area known for antique shops. This is an area which is very unique and should be visited. And Cuma is the first place to consider in the area to eat or drink something. Place’s indoor seating area also reflects the antique style with all decors they used in the place. The place is located in an old, authentic building which makes the environment stand out more. There are plenty of dishes for different tastes such as hamburgers, salads, pizzas and pastas. Signature dishes are bass ceviche, juicy lamb tandouri served with homemade traditional Turkish pasta and a yoghurt sauce, braised veal tongue pane with mustard sauce, grilled octopus with black olive sauce, and grilled mackerel accompanied with a warm vegetable salad. There are also breakfast and desert selections. Crisp white meringue served with fresh fruits, buffalo milk ice cream and custard sauce stands out among the deserts. The restaurant serves finest selection of local Turkish wines. Cuma had been included to Michelin Guide in 2022.
Markus Tavern is a small and friendly spot in Taksim to enjoy a night out with close friends, have some tapas or street food and drink beers or cocktails. This is a place that is liked by cool local people. You can start drinking your cocktails here starting around 5 pm, chill and continue the night with partying if you want.
It’s tough to put into words how to characterize Comedus. From the outside, the modest shop appears to be a traditional delicatessen. Yet, once inside, you will notice many features that set it apart from other delicatessens. For example, practically all beer varieties (particularly Craft and Specialty beer categories) are imported into Turkey. They also have an excellent wine cellar. The best part about the place is that you may cut whatever you want from the delicatessen products in the closet and sit at one of the 2-3 tables with a drink of wine or beer.