Avoid the crowds of Taksim to wine and dine in Istanbul’s bohemian neighborhood of Cihangir. With a variety of traditional and contemporary international restaurants popping up, visit Cihangir for eclectic décor and excellent cuisine. This is also one of the few neighborhoods where pork is commonly on the menu.
Open since 1999, Changa is an internationally-renowned restaurant that consistently impresses with their international and Turkish dishes. From the sweet quince, chestnuts and Brussel sprouts of the rich Roasted Chicken with Port Sauce, to the earthy celeriac and pears in the zeytinyağlı (olive oil dishes), the food is excellent. Chock full of fresh, local ingredients, almost everything on the Changa menu is seasonal. A wonderful ambiance contributes to the dining experience, where guests can watch the expert chefs at work through the glass ceiling of the underground kitchen. In addition to the a la carte menu, a tasting menu (for two or more people) and a private dining room are available. Sıraselviler Caddesi No. 47/1, Cihangir; P: (0212) 25170 64
Miss Pizza is arguably Istanbul’s best pizzeria, and certainly one of the most popular. If you are craving authentic Italian pizza with a variety of gourmet toppings, look no further. The cozy décor is reminiscent of a family-run eatery that you might find in small-town Italy, complete with red checkered tablecloths and wine served from terra-cotta mugs. All pizzas are made fresh in the brick oven, with a delicious thin and crispy crust. There are over 20 varieties of pizzas and calzones available, with a wide range of toppings including prosciutto, gorgonzola, porcini mushroom, and truffle oil. Don’t miss the Pizza Crudo with smoked bacon and arugula, or for a vegetarian option the Pizza Pesto with zucchini and ricotta cheese. Havyar Sokak No. 7, Cihangir; P: (0212) 251 32 78
Located at the intersection of nostalfic Çukurcuma and bohemian Cihangir, Çukurcuma 49 is a relaxed and cozy venue specializing in pizza and wine, with a Turkish twist. Drawing only from local ingredients, the menu focuses on thin-crust Italian-style pizzas, such as the Pizza 49, with their house special sauce, mozzarella, thyme, and pastırma (Turkish-style cured beef). Desserts include freshly-baked cakes and sweets. The Bozcaada Breakfast is another specialty, with various cheeses and jams brought from the Aegean island of Bozcaada, well known for its wines. In fact, the restaurant’s wine cellar is filled with wines from this very island. Exposed brick, warm wood furniture and comfy chairs invite you to settle in and read a book or catch up with friends. The best part? Everything from the furniture to the funky decorations is available for sale. Turnacıbaşı Sokak No: 49/A, Cihangir; P: (0212) 249 00 48
Located on one of Cihangir’s liveliest streets, Journey is a cozy restaurant that reflects the character of the neighborhood it calls home: international, modern, and laid-back. With comfy sofas, coffee tables and bookshelves filled with interesting literature and magazines, Journey is truly a home away from home. The venue is often filled with familiar faces from Turkish TV shows and the silver screen, as well as expats and locals who have made Journey their second home. The menu features something for everyone, from classic Turkish home-cooked meals to homemade pastas, pizzas, salads and meat dishes. Although Journey doesn’t turn into an after-hours bar like many Cihangir restaurants, their cocktails are not to be missed. Journey is a great stop before heading down to Kiki or another nearby bar. Akarsu Caddesi No.21/A, Cihangir; P: (0212) 244 89 89
Located in what used to be the neighborhood bakery, Datlı Maya has taken over one of the city’s largest and most historic stone ovens. The simple menu offers Turkish traditional village food and baked goods, such as lahmacun (Turkish-style pizza), pide (Turkish-style calzone) and a variety of güveç (dishes cooked in clay pots). Flourless chocolate cake and seven-spice cheesecake are a few of their European-inspired desserts. Mind your head as you make your way up the narrow winding staircases past the open kitchen to the small seating area, where you can help yourself to water and tea before finding a seat at one of the communal tables. Despite the home-style vibe, it should be noted that Datlı Maya is too petite to spend hours in chatting away with friends. Rather, it’s a great place for a delicious, reasonably-priced meal. Firuzağa Mahallesi Türkgücü Caddesi No.59/A, Cihangir; P: (0212) 292 90 57
Van Kahvaltı Evi
Van Kahvaltı Evi is a charming breakfast spot that prides itself on the sourcing of local and regional ingredients. Try their version of kavut (a roasted wheat-flour blend of honey and walnuts), jajı (a yoghurt and cottage cheese dip), the delectable eggplant pancakes, or one of the many cheeses offered (feta cheese, herbed cheese, braided cheese, and cottage cheese to name just a few). The cozy restaurant seats 50 people and the excellent service keeps the weekend crowds coming. Get there early for your Sunday brunch. Defterdar Yokuşu No. 52/A, Cihangir; P: (0212) 293 64 37