Turkey has remained a global hub for natural resources, textiles, and automobiles for years. Geographically, the country’s position forms a natural land bridge between the old-world continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe, allowing it to act as a passageway for free trade in the Eastern Hemisphere. Fast forward to today Istanbul is one of the largest cities in Europe by population and hosts countless artistic and cultural events in addition to its renowned food scene. For this article, Chic Icon has compiled a list of some of the best restaurants in Istanbul.
Offering innovative dishes with global influences, Lucca boasts a robust menu with platters ranging from pot-sticker prawn dumplings to truffle tagliarini and nori-wrapped salmon tataki. Utilizing only the freshest ingredients and seasonal fruits and vegetables, the 19-year-old member of the Mirap Restaurant Group has cemented itself as a trendy-yet-chic meeting place for “Istanbulites” and visitors alike to get together, socialize, and wine and dine in style.
Well-acclaimed in the Istanbul food scene, Lucca delivers original culinary delights by day and curated cocktails all throughout the night. Like many modern dining spots, the bistro transforms into a bar with live music performances and in-house DJs during the evening, inviting guests to substitute their lemon sea bass for a Lucca Lemon cocktail. In addition, the restaurant is situated in Istanbul’s trendy Bebek neighborhood near the Bosporus Strait, so the night promises to be lively and never-ending.
The bistro normally stays busy during the weekends and evenings, so make sure to book a reservation when possible and dress nicely. The interior leaves a bit to be desired, but the food and atmosphere make up for it ten times over. Plus – Lucca is one of the more iconic restaurants in Istanbul, making it a hotspot for the hip young crowd visiting the city and leaving guests with a priceless story to tell upon their departure.
Our suggestion: A delectable Sunday brunch and cocktails at Lucca after a long night out in the town.
The next restaurant on this list cannot be appreciated in its entirety without visiting the physical location. However, we will do our best to transmit the elegance and sophistication of the famed eatery through words. Prepare for an exclusive taste of history (except with larger portions) when dining in grandeur at 1924Istanbul.
Founded by Russians fleeing the Bolshevik revolution in the early 1920s, this restaurant – also known as Rejans – is almost too unique to be compared to its culinary peers. Large mirrors and majestic paintings and photographs line the towering wood-paneled walls in this white tablecloth establishment, leading guests back in time to experience the allure of the once-new Turkish Republic. Under the management of 360 Istanbul Group since 2016, the traditional details of the old world have been polished with contemporary features to present a more comfortable and inviting environment to host foreign guests.
Fortunately, the opulent decoration of the restaurant’s interior compliments the impeccable gastronomic experience of 1924Istanbul. Seated at a table covered in ornamental silver cutlery and pewter cups, the eatery offers age-old Russian recipes with a modern twist. Among the eatery’s countless specialty plates, notable dishes include Dana Stroganoff, Chicken Kievsky, Medovik, and Iced Lemon Vodka.
A long-time stomping ground for civil servants, German and French spies, bohemians, and politicians alike, the restaurant truly demonstrates the significance that dining holds in experiencing Istanbul as a whole. A sophisticated ambiance follows guests from the moment they enter the building to the aperitif that follows a plentiful dining experience.
A place in history: Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was a loyal client, as were prominent names such as Mata Hari, Greta Garbo, Agatha Christie, and the King of Spain.
By far one of the chicest venues in town, Novikov Istanbul flawlessly demonstrates the ideal confluence of exquisite atmosphere and fine dining. With a spacious ground-floor dining room facing the Bosphorus and an open-air garden area, Novikov offers a highly curated menu incorporating specialty sushi platters and pan-Asian delicacies in its authentic “market” concept. Additionally, the restaurant offers an excellent (and extensive) wine list, specialty cocktails, and innovative tapas plates for a quick bite.
The restaurant is popular in Istanbul for its fusion of Asian, Italian, and Mediterranean cuisine as a nod to the cosmopolitan nature of the city and has developed a distinctive modern interior layout over the years to accommodate family and friends for an intimate celebration or company event. Novikov also assures a unique atmosphere to couples looking for a romantic dinner or private dining.
Not only will the fresh regional seafood and Peking ducks keep you salivating throughout the whole stay, but the striking architectural lines of the restaurant’s interior demand tranquility from its guests and provide an overwhelming sense of luxury throughout the entire experience. The setting of Novikov embodies the perception of refined luxury through themes of subtle decorative details and its natural color palette.
Take it easy on the patio: Grab a bottle of wine and bask in the sun with magnificent views of the Bosphorus.
The final restaurant on this list extends an unforgettable evening experience to diners. The underlying concept of the highly acclaimed 360 Istanbul is the coalescence of four basic elements – food, atmosphere, entertainment, and ambiance – without any one element outweighing the other. Serving the finest Turkish & International cuisine for both lunch and dinner, 360 Istanbul is located on the top floor of the historical Mısır Apartment in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul and, as its name suggests, offers guests a panoramic 360-degree view of the city.
A luxurious combination of nightlife and upscale dining, the location is a mecca for its nighttime entertainment events, which can range from live musical performances, fire dancers, air acrobats, etc to world-famous DJs lighting up the dance floor. International jet sets and local influencers rush to fill the tables every weekend, all year long.
The cuisine at 360 Istanbul blends aspects of international cuisine with modern Turkish flavors. Starting with Mezes these include red lentil dumplings, zucchini flower dolma and of course, highly recommended sushi platters and not to miss the main courses like the slow cooked lamb rack confit or slow roasted cherry duck. The penthouse restaurant not only serves some of the finest views and dishes in the area, but its eclectic supply of cocktails and finest local and international wines will assuredly keep the good times rolling.
Take note: The surrounding area is lively and rich, so dress to impress. The high season in Istanbul is mid-April to June and September to October – but you may find it easier to travel during the off-season.
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