While some fish restaurants in Istanbul stick to what they know best and master one dish, others let their imagination go wild—taking on various culinary experiments. To mark the beginning of the fish season in Istanbul, we put together a list of places that includes the absolute best of both worlds. Afiyet olsun!

Kıyı

Offering daily catches from the Black Sea and the Marmara, Kıyı restaurant has been considered one of the city’s best choices for fish since 1966. Although we have our personal favorites, such as bluefish-wrapped vine leaves or swordfish on a skewer, any recommendation by the owner, Yorgo Bey, is a safe bet. Haydar Aliyev Caddesi, No.186, Tarabya; T: (0212) 262 00 02

Kıyı

Adem Baba

The always-busy Adem Baba is a casual dining classic that tends to get even more crowded on weekends—but a table is always worth the wait. Once hamsi (anchovies) start appearing on the menu, make them your primary choice—the restaurant’s relaxed setting is ideal for eating them as they should be eaten: with your fingers. Satış Meydanı Sokak No.2, Arnavutköy; T: (0212) 263 29 33

Sur Balık

Specialists in fresh seafood, Sur Balık offers a range of classic Turkish dishes with a unique seafood twist; such as balık köfte (fish meatball), balık mantı (fish-filled Turkish dumpling), and pazı sarma (Swiss chard stuffed with fish). Bebek Arnavutköy Caddesi No.52, Arnavutköy; T: (0212) 257 27 43

Sur Balık

Bebek Balıkçısı

Located in an upscale neighborhood next to the Bosphorus, Bebek Balıkçısı is a great choice for the daily catch, as well as for the more adventurous types of fish. In our opinion, lahoz balığı (white grouper) is especially excellent against the splendid view of the water. Reservations are essential. Cevdet Paşa Caddesi, No.26A, Bebek; T: (0212) 263 34 47

Karaköy Lokantası

A destination restaurant long before everyone “discovered” the neighborhood, Karaköy Lokantası’s daily seafood selection includes most popular fish dishes, such as levrek (seabass). Reservations for any day of the week are highly recommended. Kemankeş Caddesi No.37A, Karaköy; T: (0212) 292 44 55

Karaköy Lokantası

Sardunya Karaköy

Boasting one of Karaköy’s best views of Bosphorus, Sardunya Karaköy is where you can enjoy a great seafood feast on the waterfront. Turkish and Mediterranean fish is superbly grilled, steamed, or oven-baked—and don’t miss out on the simple-but-classic fish soup. Meclis-i Mebusan Caddesi No.22, Fındıklı; T: (0212) 249 10 92

Takanik Balık

Those who prefer a detour from classic fish dishes might want to visit Takanik Balık. From starting by selling fish from a boat on the Bosphorus shoreline in 1998, the restaurant now boasts four branches across the city. Their selection of starters includes delicious fish soup and balık böreği (fish pastry). Birinci Cadde No.87, Arnavutköy; T: (0212) 263 83 46

Takanik

Arnavutköy Balıkçısı

Standing out in this crowded neighborhood of upmarket eateries, Arnavutköy Balıkçısı offers a tasty selection of mezze options, especially the marinated octopus salad and seafood crepes. Make sure to try the sea bass if it is on offer when you visit: the fish’s soft white flakes of flesh crumble deliciously in its tasty juices. Bebek Arnavutköy Caddesi No.4, Arnavutköy; T: (0212) 257 05 25

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