Last night in Istanbul, a side street in the Galata neighborhood on the European side of town was packed with people eating Turkish street food such as çiğ köfte, salted cucumbers, and börek pastries, and drinking cold Efes beers and Turkish wines. The occasion was the publication of the book Istanbul Eats: Exploring the Culinary Backstreets,
a compilation of food and restaurant recommendations from the blog of the same name. So full of local foodies and fans of the blog that the event was broken up early by the Turkish police unaccustomed to boisterous Tuesday block parties.
Started by American expats Ansel Mullins and Yigal Schleifer last spring, Istanbul Eats is billed as “a serious eater’s guide to the city.” You won’t find any five-star restaurants, international chains, or tourist traps on Istanbul Eats; the blog focuses on small, traditional eateries; street carts; and mom-and-pop shops. Many of the establishments are only open for lunch, serve no alcohol, and take no credit cards. What you will find is authentic, often surprising, and always satisfying food. The pocket-sized book combines reviews with mouth-watering photography and visitor-friendly maps and info.
For now, the book is only available for sale online and in shops in Turkey, but is a must-read for anyone visiting Istanbul and looking to take home a taste of Turkey. If you want to read up on the culinary scene before your trip, the blog has a full archive of restaurant reviews, round-ups, and features on local favorite dishes. Afiyet Olsun!