Among my delights in visiting Turkey were several small restaurants and bakeries. Most of them are simple, homey chow destinations I found through locals.
1. Karadeniz Imren Lokantasi features multiple peasant style meat, vegetable, and rice dishes at a steam table. This is honest, tasty food, how I imagine many Chowhounds cook at home daily. (Note, for food safety, make sure food from any steam table looks fresh, indicating high turnover, and is kept hot.)
A plate of chicken, grilled eggplant, beans and rice plus the Ayram yogurt drink will cost $7. Eggplant, fried or grilled, is particularly flavorful. For an additional $1.50, dessert is rice pudding in a clay pot, golden brown on top from the baked milk and cream.
The owner, Ali, speaks English and became our trusted friend and welcoming symbol of the neighborhood. Need to buy something? Ali will tell you where the locals shop and draw you a map. Need help translating what the borek man sells in addition to borek? Ask Ali and hell walk over with you and interpret. See address and phone at end.
2. Borek store. The borek and pastry store (its formal name may have the word biscuit or something similar in it) is down and across the street a short block away from Karadeniz Imren Lokantasi.
The baker brings up cookies, pastries, meat and cheese boreks from underground ovens. He displays boreks in the front window which has ingenious heating elements on the shelves underneath the borek trays. The baker, a large, burly man, speaks Turkish and a few words of English. Get ready to point, pay, and eat. Order a borek and hell deftly cut your portion into bite size pieces with a serious looking, semi-circular knife. An order of borek for breakfast is a hearty, satisfying meal. Surprise, it costs $1.25! Eat it while its still warm!
The cookies and other pastries looked on the dry side (like Italian cookies) to me. However, my friends enjoyed an apple turnover and a chocolate pastry.
3. Turkish delight. This candy costs between $6-$15 per pound, depending on where you buy it. You never need to pay a premium. Buy your fresh, high quality Turkish delight from Koska Helvacisi, with multiple stores in Istanbul. While it comes in various flavors, the rose flavor evokes the exotic and the ethereal. The stores website http://www.koskahelvacisi.com.tr/kosk... loads slowly, but is in both Turkish and English
4. Pides. Near Ephesus is the small town of Selcuk. In addition to the ruins, I remember Selcuk for pides. Pides are Turkish pizzas. The restaurant Pinar serves what could be the best pides in Turkey. Pides are not flavored with basil or oregano and are covered with cheese less assertive than mozzarella.
The most popular pide at Pinar is the vegetable pide. The tomatoes, onions, peppers and other vegetables gracing the pides grew up in the countryside you just drove through. The ingredients speak for themselves. The crust is medium soft and in just the right proportion to the vegetables. The pide bakers slide the pides in a brick oven (all the ovens I saw in Turkish restaurants were brick). Minutes later, out from the oven comes a gift from the earth, lovingly crafted.
Address and Phone Numbers
1. Karadeniz Imren Lokantasi
Kadirga Liman Caddesi No.: 143 Kumkapi
(0212) 638 1196
2. Borek store. Ask Ali from #1
3. Turkish Delight
Multiple locations. Location I visited:
Istiklal Cad. No 238/18
Beyoglu 705 023 6486
Pide ve Pizza Salonu
Zigbur Cad. No: 1
(0232) 892 9913