Because I am in Istanbul for a while living together with my Turkish family, I thought I would share with you some of the-ouside-of-the-touristic-path places to eat and experience, that are truly authentic and delicious.
The district of Üsküdar is one of Istanbul’s oldest-established residential areas. Being just a ferry ride away from the European side, and cheaper, it is the residential area of choice of many people, including numerous students. If you will go, you will witness first-hand the daily commute of the people working or studying on the other side of the Bosphorus, while admiring the spectacular view that they are just unbelievably lucky to see everyday.
Usually Üsküdar is not visited by many tourists, and it is, if you like this kind of approach, one of the places you can have the real Turkish experience, away from the touristic path. Very near to the ferry station of Üsküdar, (which can be reached with a short ferry trip from any of the European-side ferry stations), there is a market where you can find anything, from spices and pickles, fresh vegetables, meat and fish. I recommend to you to buy some domates salçası – tomato paste and Biber salçası – pepper paste (aci biber if you prefer hot). You can use them in your home-made food and believe me they will make it taste terrific. The ones my Turkish mother-in-law always buys are the ones sold by kilo in the market, not the store already pre-packed types, as they are more delicious, so I am doing the same.
Turkish people have a proverbial commercial talent, and even if they will not speak your language they will find a way to be of service. So, if you are interested in acquiring some specific Turkish goodies, here is a better priced, less tourist- oriented therefore more authentic option.
On the main street coming from the ferry station, Selmanipak Caddesi, there is the Kanaat Locantasi, a family restaurant is famous in Istanbul that I recommend you visit for a hearty Turkish traditional meal.
Depending on your available time, you can start with a selection of some of the house meze (appetizers) or a Turkish çorba, continue with a meat main course – lamb is particularly good here, or you can choose a traditional home-made course option like kurufasulye or nohut accompanied by pilav and the house ayran. Whatever you eat, it is guaranteed by the many returning Turkish customers (the place is packed almost all day) that you will have a genuine experience. Oh, and do try the house sweets, they are fresh and delicious!
Keep in mind, being an authentic Turkish place means it is not a fancy one, as the people here enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
The staff is speaking good-enough English to be of service, also the menus have English translation. But the best part is that you can see the food and choose what you want to eat. Being a more traditional place, keep in mind that here you won’t find alcohol in the menu, and you need to pay in cash.
Hope you can take advantage more of your next trip to Istanbul, and if you have any questions, ask me in the comments and I will do my best to answer.
To be continued… 🙂