The Savvy Globe Trotter, Tatyana Leonov, explores Istanbul’s rooftop restaurant dining scene
Istanbul spans seven hills and straddles two continents, so it’s no wonder the rooftop restaurant scene has boomed over the last decade. Dazzling minarets coupled with modern skyscrapers make for a fascinating skyline view from every angle (if you’re up high enough). Add to that the famous Bosphorous stretch – and you’ve got yourself one of the most unique views in the world. There’s really no better place to take it all in than dining at a one of the many rooftop restaurants. Here are five of the best:
Located in the heart of trendy Beyoğlu, the original Leb-i derya was one of the first rooftop restaurants opened. It offers spectacular views across the Old City and down to the Bosphorous and still ranks as one of the best rooftop dining venues – as long as you get a seat on the outdoor terrace. The newest location at the top of İstiklâl Caddesi's Richmond Hotel is another top spot to dine with a divine view. Both locations offer magnificent outlooks, but the Richmond setting has a more refined menu (think pomegranate-flavoured kebabs and scallop ravioli).The Finer Details
Kumbaracı Yokuşu 57/6, Tünel, Beyoğlu
Istiklal Caddesi 227, 6th floor Richmond Hotel, Beyoğlu,
It’s very touristy, and quite expensive, but the panoramic view of the Golden Horn is worth it offering that only-in-Istanbul experience. Book ahead to get a seat on the rooftop level – otherwise you might end up on one of the floors below missing out on the fabulous views. If you like your kebabs the Hamdi team have got grilling meat over charcoal fire (called a mangal) down to a fine art.The Finer Details
Rüstem Paşa Mh. Kalçin Sk No:17, Fatih
If gastronomy is your thing, Mikla is the place to be. Turkish-Scandinavian chef Mehmet Gürs has worked his way around the world and picked up a few awards on the way – he sets the culinary bar high – 20 storey’s high in this case. Make a reservation as the fusion food on offer is delightful – as is the extensive wine list.The Finer Details
Meşrutiyet Caddesi 15, Tünel
La Mouette means seagull in French. The restaurant is appropriately named; situated on the terrace of Beyoğlu's Tomtom Suites hotel the elegant eatery is close to the sea (and the seagulls) and offers splendid views of the Old City. It’s another fine dining location specialising in fusion food – a mishmash of Turkish and French, created by two young chefs fast gaining a stellar reputation for their culinary knack.
The Finer Details
Tomtom Kaptan Sokak 18, Beyoğlu,
X features eclectic décor in a sumptuous setting. Located on the top of the grandiose Deniz Palas (Sea Palace) building that is home to the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), it’s all about the detail here – food is presented as if it’s an art form on beautiful plates matched with fine cutlery. If you’re after a staple kebab this is not the place, the focus at X is more on modern and refined Mediterranean-inspired cuisine.The Finer Details
Sadi Konuralp Caddesi 5, Şişhane
If you’re planning to dine at a trendy rooftop restaurant do your research and book ahead. During peak periods the best seats with the top views will get booked out months in advance. If you’re happy with a simple snack but want a view – just look up. A lot of the casual eateries will have rooftops with a table or two on top – or a balcony high up that can offer just as good a view. Because the food is cheap and they probably don’t have an elevator they won’t always promote these seats – it’s a hassle for the waiter to trek up the flights of stairs to serve you. But if you ask nicely the ‘closed’ balcony may just become ‘open’.
About the Savvy Globe Trotter
Tatyana Leonov is a writer, editor, avid traveller and determined dreamer. She's mastered (beginners') yoga in Goa, partied with Russia's elite in a Moscow club, sampled local delicacies all around the world (including a camel burger in Morocco and guinea pig in Peru), trekked to Nepal's Annapurna Base Camp in Havaianas and had a short-lived career as a Bollywood star.