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Istanbul’s top five contemporary restaurants

From contemporary reinterpretations of authentic local dishes to sophisticated international standards, Istanbul’s choicest restaurants offer something for every palate. Vanessa H. Larson picks some of the best

City Guide
Vanessa H. Larson,

NAR Lokantası
Committed to keeping alive Turkey’s diverse culinary heritage, NAR Lokantası prepares classic dishes and regional specialities using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. An extensive selection of wines made from domestic grape varietals complements the range of mezes, meat dishes and dozens of daily specials. Guests can eat in the elegant dining room, overlooking a lovely vertical garden, or on one of the leafy outdoor terraces.

NAR Lokantası, Nuruosmaniye Caddesi 65, Nuruosmaniye, +90 (0)212 522 2800

Brasserie Nişantaşı
The stylish Brasserie Nişantaşı has a longstanding reputation as one of the area’s trendiest restaurants. Its recently revamped, French-influenced international menu includes classics such as foie gras, escargot and steak tartare, along with pizzas and other light fare. The bar area is at its liveliest on Wednesday through to Saturday evenings when well-known DJ Engin Yelkenci plays, while the streetside patio is always a prime spot for people-watching.

Brasserie Nişantaşı, Abdi İpekçi Caddesi 23/1, Nişantaşı, +90 (0)212 343 0443

Lokanta Maya
Chef-owner Didem Şenol’s restaurant is favoured for its creative updates of traditional Turkish dishes made with local, mainly organic ingredients. The menu, which changes daily, offers choices such as courgette fritters with cucumber sauce, sea bass cooked with vegetables in paper, and bergamot-chocolate ice cream. With its light-coloured woods and warm lighting, the interior feels inviting and hip in equal measure.

Lokanta Maya, Kemankeş Caddesi 35A, Karaköy, +90 (0)212 252 6884

Emporio Armani Ristorante
The first of its kind in the world, Emporio Armani Ristorante combines a café and restaurant offering casual dining in a chic, minimalistic setting. The menu features classic Italian cuisine with modern Mediterranean influences; standouts include zuppa di mare (seafood soup), osso buco, and Bavarian cream with orange sauce. Greenery-lined terraces on both levels provide the perfect vantage point over İstinye Park’s open-air square.

Emporio Armani Ristorante, İstinye Park, İstinye, +90 (0)212 345 6140

Divan Lokanta
This renowned Istanbul venue serving fine Turkish and Ottoman palace cuisine reopened not long ago in the newly rebuilt Divan Hotel. The range of mezes and main courses including grilled quail in vine leaves and lamb shank with fennel is complemented by an extensive wine list. Warm woods and stunning hand-blown glass chandeliers in shades of red complete the refined atmosphere.  

Divan Lokanta, Asker Ocağı Caddesi 1, Şişli, +90 (0)212 315 5500



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