Rooftop restaurants with superb views across the Bosphorus and modern cuisine that fuses east and west are among the highlights at the top of Istanbuls food chain, say the Istanbul Eats bloggers
• As featured in our Istanbul city guide
This restaurant is located on the terrace of Beyoğlus Tomtom Suites hotel. It has a superb view of the old city, but, more importantly, it has the talents of two young chefs who are doing stellar work using locally-sourced ingredients. Their imaginative take on the Turkish staple Arnavut ciğeric (Albanian-style liver) is reminiscent of foie gras and is among the more sublime dishes found in town. One of their desserts, a panna cotta made with yoghurt, pulls off the nifty trick of not only cleverly imitating its original inspiration but actually bettering it.
• Tomtom Kaptan Sokak 18, Beyoğlu, +90 212 292 4467, lamouetterestaurant.com, mains TL45 (£17). Open Mon-Sat 6.30am-11pm
It seems chef Didem Şenol knew exactly what Istanbul was missing when, last year, she opened Lokanta Maya – a casual neighbourhood bistro with a brief menu of contemporary Turkish cooking and seasonal specials. Since opening, Maya has been showered with well-deserved praise, locally and internationally, quickly earning the place an enthusiastic following. The mucver, zucchini fritters, are so popular that Şenol wrote the recipe on a mirror in the dining room so customers would stop asking for it. The caramelised sea bass with orange is irresistible, too.
• Kemankeş Caddesi 35/A, Karaköy, +90 212 252 6884, lokantamaya.com, average mains £8. Open Tue-Sat noon-5pm and 7pm-11pm, Mon lunch only
Located right on the Bosphorus in an Ottoman-era boat dock in the shadows of a medieval fortress, Iskeles atmosphere is as inspiring as the food is reliably delicious. This is a timeless fish house frequented by Istanbul traditionalists because they know the citys culinary traditions are safe within these walls. Waiters know many of their customers by name, as well as whether they take their raki with or without ice. A meal is spread out over several courses, starting with cold meze, followed by hot starters and working up to a seafood crescendo. This is a very pleasurable Istanbul ritual.
• Yahya Kemal Caddesi I, Sariyer, 90 212 263 2997, rumelihisari.com, mains £16. Open noon-midnight daily
Galatasaray islet might look like a distressed party barge floating out in the middle of the Bosphorus near Kuruçeşme, but this collection of restaurants, nightclubs and even a pool club is one of the citys most stunning and exclusive places to eat, drink and enjoy the Bosphorus. The restaurant Fish, opened last year by the founders of 360, has set the dining bar high with its top-notch, unusual selection of meze and, of course, fresh fish. This is a spot for a jet set that hasnt forgotten that where you eat is an important part of the social scene.
• Suada Club, Galatasaray Adasi, Kuruçeşme, +90 212 265 0158, fishistanbul, mains £21. Open noon-midnight daily
Commanding a fine view of the Golden Horn, the stylish X sits atop the 90-year-old Deniz Palas (or Sea Palace) building, which is also home to the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), a non-profit group that organises some of the citys best-known cultural events. The grand building was renovated in 2009 after decades of neglect, and both it and X are perfect examples of Istanbuls resurgence and its ability to mix the old with the new, and east with west. The Mediterranean-influenced menu includes expertly made takes on dishes that range from a traditional Anatolian "wedding soup" to pizzas baked in the brick oven.
• Sadi Konuralp Caddesi 5, Şişhane, +90 212 334 0845, mains £19. Open noon-1am daily
This elegant yet comfortable fish restaurant on a quiet corner in the Sultanahmet district is full most nights with both locals and tourists, thanks to the fixed-price menu that includes bottomless glasses of local wine, raki or beer. But the food here – typical of the Turks who once lived on the island of Crete – more than holds its own. The grilled octopus in olive oil is close to perfect, and other highlights include the seafood and orzo salad and the olives stuffed with walnuts and feta – part of the dozen or so starters brought to the table. In warmer months, Giritlis garden is as pleasant any rooftop terrace in the city.
• Keresteci Hakki Sokak, Cankurtaran/Ahirkapi, +90 212 458 2270, giritlirestoran.com, fixed menu £32. Open noon-midnight daily
Istanbuls trend for rooftop restaurants started almost a decade ago with this Beyoğlu veteran, whose owners were among the first to realise the potential of pairing the citys magnificent views and warm climate with good food. Leb-i deryas newest location, at the top of İstiklâl Caddesis Richmond Hotel, keeps the views but has a more refined menu than the original down the street. Sea bass with pancetta and chard and pomegranate-flavoured lamb kebab are some of that menus highlights. The sleek long bar, which overlooks the Bosphorus, is a great place for a drink before or after dinner.
• Istiklal Caddesi 227, 6th floor, Beyoğlu, +90 212 243 4375, lebiderya.com, mains £16. Open Mon-Fri 11am-2am, Sat and Sun 10am-2am
Turkish-Swedish chef Mehmet Gürs sets the Istanbul culinary bar high – 20 storeys high, to be exact. Located on the rooftop of the chic Marmara Pera hotel, Mikla, which opened in 2005, has a dazzling view of the city below. But the stylish restaurants menu, which reflects both Turkish and Scandinavian influences, more than holds its own. Try the cherrywood-smoked loin of lamb or the pistachio-crusted lamb chops and finish up with a plate of artisanal cheeses from the east. The restaurants extensive wine list is a good introduction to the exciting developments in Turkish wine making.
• Meşrutiyet Caddesi 15, Tünel, +90 212 293 5656, miklarestaurant.com, mains £23. Open Mon-Sat 6pm-11.30pm
If the illuminated collection of manuscripts on display at Sabanci Museum is not reason enough to head up to the neighbourhood of Emirgan by the Bosphorus, Müzedechanga, located inside the museum, certainly is. The brainchild of Kiwi chef Peter Gordon, this restaurant is a top address for creative spins on Mediterranean cuisine in an elegant setting with spectacular views of the water from the terrace. Though more subdued than the trendier branch of the restaurant in Taksim, a meal at Müzedachanga always feels like a special occasion.
• Sakip Sabanci Caddesi 42, Emirgan, +90 212 323 0901, changa-istanbul.com, mains £14. Open Tue-Sun 10.30am-1am
Meze by Lemon Tree
Inside the airy single room of Meze, the kitchen crew – often doubling as waiters – look as serious as monks quietly shuffling around in their black chefs jackets. But in their whimsical presentation of the food and generosity with the raki bottle, its clear these guys are just food nerds having a great time. Leave the choice of starters to chef Gençay and youll experience a northern Aegean tour de force featuring sautéed seasonal greens like nettles and dandelions. As the meal progresses toward a grilled whole fish, or the succulent loin of baby lamb, youll quickly realise there is more to this place than just meze.