Kıyı has it all: ambience, a panoramic view of Sarıyer’s marina with a Bosporus backdrop and the freshest fish the city has to offer. Specializing in a wide variety of appetisers, their tarama, a Greek meze of salted and cured roe mixed with olive oil, lemon and breadcrumbs, is an excellent choice. Kıyı’s octopus carpaccio with celery (kerevizli ahtapot carpaccio) and thinly sliced sautéed liver (yaprak ciğer) are also highly recommended as starters. When in season, Kıyı’s best-selling fish includes throat mullet (Boğaz tekiri), bonito (palamut), bluefish (lüfer) and turbot (kalkan). A dinner for two runs an average of 350 Turkish Lira, or around £45.
This restaurant offers views of the Golden Horn and Beyoğlu neighborhood’s Galata Tower on the far shore. It also offers some of the best appetisers in the city, namely its baby octopus, Crete puree (Girit ezme), seaweed salad (kayak oruğu), tarama, samut salad, sea bass with dried tomatoes (kurutulmuş domatestli levek sarma) as well as their specialty topik, chickpea-based vegetarian “meatballs” filled with onions, nuts, currents and spiced with herbs and tahini. This venue offers a nice variety of in-season fish as well. A dinner for two here averages TL 350 (£45).
Istanbul Municipality Restaurants
Scattered throughout the city are 19 alcohol-free restaurants run and owned by the city called Istanbul Büyüksehir Belediyesi Sosyal Tesisleri, which were established in 1994 to offer citizens of all incomes the chance to enjoy a nice meal with great views. Each branch offers the same menu and pleasant white linen tablecloths, so you always know what to expect. Their creamy fish soup with mushrooms and onion and their appetiser sampler with classic Turkish starters like green beans in olive oil, stuffed artichokes, peppers stuffed with spiced rice and haydari, a mint and garlic yogurt spread, are highly recommended. Their menu includes a variety of grilled, fried or baked fresh fish dishes, including salmon and sea bass. Two of their branches are located near popular tourist spots, namely Haliç Sosyal Tesisi, a few kilometres up the road from the city’s ancient Spice Bazaar, and Kasimpaşa Sosyal Tesisi, just down the hill from the Galata Tower. Both offer views of the Golden Horn. A dinner for two here is an affordable TL 90 (£11.50).
If you’re feeling adventurous and head to Istanbul’s biggest island Büyükada for the day, choosing a place to eat along the waterfront can be daunting. Milto, nestled on the island’s shore, offers great views of the comings and goings on the Marmara Sea and, if you time it right, spectacular sunsets. For starters, the tarator, a refreshing salad with yogurt, tahini and a touch of garlic, is a great choice paired with cheese croquets that melt in your mouth and fresh mussels. Their prawns are also superb and fresh fish is always available. A dinner for two here runs around TL 250 (£32), including drinks.
Balıkçı Abdullah embodies fine dining with its linen tablecloths and charming fireplace, making it the perfect spot for a quiet, romantic evening near the Bosporus. Out of their wide variety of starters that include shrimp, lobster and mussel dishes, their grilled octopus and melt-in-your-mouth calamari are favourites of regulars. A unique starter here is their raw picarel filets, and the restaurant’s fried sol (dil balık) is also a great choice. Their buttery date dessert (hurma tatlisi) served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or their poached quince topped with clotted cream (ayva tatlisi) with a cup of tea are excellent ways to end your meal. A dinner for two here runs around TL 350 (£45) with drinks.