The culinary scene is one of Istanbul’s main charms, new openings pop up anytime and anywhere in the city. Here are our picks of the best latest restaurants and bars, keeping you up-to-date with the city’s latest food trends.

Alaf

Combining a a fine dining restaurant and a street food bar downstairs, Alaf surprises diners with excellent combinations of flavors and textures. A chef’s tasting menu (12 courses, 150 TL per person) might be the best choice for a first-time visitor. After having decided on personal favorites, on your next visit you will easily navigate the à la carte options: purslane with burnt yogurt, cold tuna, fish roe paste, pide, meatballs, and so on.  Arnavutköy Kuruçeşme Caddesi No.19, Kuruçeşme; T: 0532 015 94 19

Alaf

Sam Kitchen & Bar

When a new establishment takes over the location of an already reputable place, there are two ways it could go about its future: either by trying to fill the large shoes, or by putting a brand new pair on and moving forward. Sam Kitchen & Bar has chosen the latter, not feeling intimidated by the fame of its predecessor, Kantin. The results are quite outstanding, proving that a great menu and plenty of confidence can take one very far. Abdi İpekçi Caddesi No.57B, Milli Reasürans Çarşısı No.16-60, Teşvikiye

Araka

Having disappeared for a while after Sabancı Museum’s famous Changa restaurant closed its doors in 2017, chef Pınar Taşdemir began slowly cooking up her own project which came to life in Yeniköy. Araka‘s dishes immediately bring to mind Changa’s aesthetics, being utterly delicious as well as very beautiful. If you have the chance to try the restaurant’s first menu, don’t hesitate to start with the cauliflower and follow it with smoked bonito. Kapalı Bakkal Sokak No.8, Yeniköy; T: (0212) 223 72 23

La Viña

The d.ream restaurant group’s latest place, La Viña opens it door at Zorlu Center’s main square serving excellent Spanish cuisine to Istanbulites. The menu includes a wide selection of starters which can also be enjoyed as tapas: fried red mullet with a light fennel salad, and Bomba de la Barceloneta (a type of crispy potato dumpling with a meat filling) are just a couple of examples. Also don’t miss those Spanish staples that we all know and love: gazpacho, tortilla, paella, and—Istanbul’s new favorite dessert—San Sebastian cheesecake. Zubizu users get 15 percent off the tab. Zorlu Center; Koru Sokak No.2, Levazım; T: (0212) 353 66 55

Markus Tavern

The young and ambitious chef İlke Gökgöl is making her mark on Istanbul’s dining scene with her little, cozy eatery in Etiler, Madame Tapas. This cosy place with a small garden offers a wide range of bites packed with surprising combinations of flavors. TGI tip: instead of the usual suspects, patatas bravas and quesadilla, try sweet potato croquettes and horseradish smoked salmon pincho with quail egg. Locals may fancy the restaurant’s daily menu, which goes beyond tapas. Hayriye Caddesi No.16, Çukurcuma

Madame Tapas

The concept behind Markus Prime Ribs Society’s Markus Tavern in Çukurcuma is halfway between an English pub and a Spanish taperia, serving comforting snacks in a homey ambience against a well-stocked bar. Perfect for an after-work unwind, it might be exactly what the doctor ordered on any given day of the week. Definitely one of our new favorites. Yanarsu Sokak No.18/1, Etiler; T: (0212) 287 70 41/5

Chef Meyhane

Just when you thought nothing could surprise you in the meyhane department, Chef Meyhane opened in Arnavutköy. Proving there is still room for creativity in Istanbul’s most popular evening dining concept, it has managed to present Mediterranean diet with a twist. Open daily from 6pm. Bebek Arnavutköy Caddesi No.64/2, Arnavutköy; T: 0530 067 50 42

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The Steeve by İsmet Saz

The Steeve is a more casual alternative for chef İsmet Saz’s first restaurant, TOI. Here, dishes to share take center stage. The inspirations come from Mediterranean and South American cuisines, with French onion soup, Italian bruschetta, Spanish tortilla, ceviche, as well as a wide selection of taco-style bites in lavash on the menu. Intema Yaşam’s interiors have also undergone minor renovations and a semi-open outdoor space is now available to diners. Kanyon, Büyükdere Caddesi  No.185, Levent; T: (0212) 353 53 11; thesteeve.com

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Monkey Bar

Overlooking the Golden Horn from the rooftop terrace of the Nejat Eczacıbaşı building in Şişhane, Monkey Bar opened at the end of June—right in time to make the most of Istanbul’s glorious summer nights. The place, located on the floor above Firuze restaurant, is the perfect spot for an afternoon aperitif, to watch the sunset, or go out for dinner and drinks. It will instantly become your new summer favorite! Şişhane Sokak No.5, Nejat Eczacıbaşı Building, Şişhane; T: (0212) 238 50 50

 

Köprüaltı

Gül Etker has tuned the neighboring space of his cosy Rumeli Hisarı seafood brasserie Kiss the Frog into a meyhane. Be sure to try the octopus lahmacun, the tomato mücver, and the homemade yanık (“burnt”) yogurt. Also on offer are more traditional meyhane staples. You may also ask what the chef “bügün ne yaptınız?”, or “what did you make today?”, as the menu suggests. Ask about pide and the desserts, too. Yahya Kemal Caddesi No.4, Rumeli Hisarı; T: (0212) 287 73 23

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