Ministry of coffee Ministry of coffee

Nişantaşı, Istanbul: a guide

Istanbul's 'Upper East Side' is the city's fanciest district, home to chic boutiques, independent cafés and beautifully maintained outdoor spaces

A suburb of Istanbul that became popular with the elite in the late Ottoman period, Nişantaşı has been steeped in luxury for over a century. Filled with stately apartment buildings, many of which are adorned with Art Noveau details, this neighbourhood has aged well – it still has some of the most coveted real estate in the city and manages to preserve its fashionable and hip image, despite its longevity.

Nişantaşı is in close proximity to Taksim, Kabataş and Beşiktaş, so you will likely find yourself wandering its well-maintained streets at some point. We’ve put together a guide to help you get the most out of any visit to Istanbul’s centre of luxury.

Where to savour a cup of coffee

One of the first third-wave coffee shops to open in Istanbul, Ministry of Coffee (MOC) is a place for all occasions. Whether you’re looking to catch up with a friend, get lost in a book or finish up some work, MOC has just the nook for you. The Australian-owned shop prides itself on roasting only the best beans and mixing Australian style with classical brewing techniques, so it’s no surprise that the coffee is outstanding (the flat white and pour over coffee are particularly divine). The floor-to-ceiling bookcases and dog-friendly policy make this stylish cafe feel like a second home, so much so that you may never want to leave.

Related: Karaköy, Istanbul: a guide

Where to have a casual lunch

KantinKantin © Apples Under My Bed

Nişantaşı is home to some of the city’s most upmarket restaurants, leaving you with endless choices for fine dining. But sometimes you want a more casual setting for lunch, without sacrificing the quality of food, of course. One of the best spots for this type of meal is Kantin, a restaurant owned by chef Semsa Denizsel that serves what has been dubbed the ‘New Istanbul Cuisine’. The menu, which is written on chalkboards, changes daily and is built around seasonal produce. Everything is homemade, from the sourdough bread down to the ketchup and mustard. And to top it all off, the dining area manages to be relaxed and elegant at the same time – Kantin is a true class act.

tatbak-2Tatbak © Flickr/Elif Ayiter

If you’re in the mood for more traditional Turkish fare, such as kebabs and pide (Turkish-style pizza), head to Tatbak. Founded in 1960, this restaurant is an institution in Nişantaşı and does a booming lunch trade.

Pare-Baklava-Bar-3Pare Baklava Bar © Facebook 

Finally, make your way down to Pare Baklava Bar for something sweet to finish off your meal. Their baklava is melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and they offer a few modern takes on the traditional dessert, like baklava ice cream.

Related: Istanbul's best restaurants for Turkish cuisine

Where to go shopping

A shopping mecca, Nişantaşı is home to some of the world’s most luxurious brands – Christian Louboutin, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior, Chanel and Cartier all have boutiques on Abdi İpekçi Caddesi, the main fashion thoroughfare. The upscale Turkish department store Beymen, which has its own collections in addition to carrying well-known international brands, also has a boutique on Abdi İpekçi, as does the Turkish luxury brand Vakko.

yastikYastık

For something more unique to Turkey, wander a bit deeper into Nişantaşı to visit Rıfat Özbek’s boutique, Yastık. Özbek, a Turkish-born, London-based fashion designer who was twice-named ‘British Designer of the Year’ for his exotic and colourful creations, has turned his attention to making exquisite cushions and pillows out of sumptuous and antique fabrics from Anatolia and Central Asia.

Related: Where to go running in Istanbul

Where to get a drink

kozmonotKozmonot

Since it draws such a fashionable crowd, Nişantaşı is the perfect spot to grab a drink and enjoy some people watching. Located on a street packed with cafes and restaurants, Delicatessen is often frequented by Istanbul’s rich and beautiful. It has an impressive cocktail list – something of a rarity in Istanbul. If you’re looking for something a little more down-to-earth, Kozmonot has the feel of a hip neighbourhood pub. It’s a bit outside of Nişantaşı centre, but both its drink and food menus get high marks.

1 Kantin
2 Tatbak
3 Pare Baklava Bar
4 Beymen
5 Yastık
6 Delicatessen
7 Kozmonot
8 Ministry of Coffee