Kadıköy has always been the heart and soul of the Asian side. But over the past few years the area has begun to eclipse Beyoğlu as the place to go, whether for a coffee, a drink or a nice meal. While it’s not the epicentre of luxury, it retains a neighbourhood feel that is becoming harder and harder to find in Istanbul. We’ve put together a list of places where you can eat and drink while exploring this vibrant area.
Where to grab a cup of coffee
Located in the heart of the Çarşı, Kadıköy’s main shopping area filled with fishmongers, green grocers, restaurants, and shops selling all sorts, Montag Coffee Roasters serves some of the best coffee in the neighbourhood. The owners – two friends who left their prominent jobs to open Montag – are very passionate about high quality coffee, even going as far as roasting their own beans. A short climb up a flight of narrow stairs, the space itself is warm and welcoming, with the smell of homemade cheesecake and cookies wafting from the kitchen, and the outdoor seating offers a refuge from the packed market.
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Where to get a quick lunch
If you’re craving a hearty sandwich made with fresh ingredients and artisanal bread, look no further than Naan Bakeshop. Straddling the line between Kadıköy and Moda, Naan opened in 2014 and has quickly become a popular breakfast and lunch spot. Their vegan sandwich, with rich hummus and grilled vegetables on a French baguette, is divine. So is their sourdough bread, a rarity in Istanbul.
Where to enjoy a drink
Kadıköy’s ‘Bar Street’ has always been a bit gritty. Yet next to the student haunts and tattoo parlors there are now hip bars that have excellent DJs and musical acts, not to mention knowledgeable bartenders. Located in an old Ottoman house, Karga feels like a spooky, secret lair. Yet all of that dark wood is brightened by the artwork on the walls – Karga has fashioned itself as a cultural centre, hosting exhibitions, talks, and other activities.
If you’re looking for something more upscale or you fancy a cocktail, make your way to 360 Istanbul East, a restaurant, bar, and club perched on top of the Hilton Doubletree. It offers spectacular views of the Marmara Sea and the Old City, and the summer terrace is the perfect spot to dance away the night.
Where to have a leisurely dinner
There’s not much in the way of fine dining in Kadıköy. But what the neighbourhood lacks in luxury spots it more than makes up for with homely places serving food that even a Turkish grandmother would approve of. Çiya Sofrası, the most famous restaurant in the area, has been attracting foodies for years with their Anatolian stews and other regional cuisine.
For something a little more off-the-beaten-path is Şiraz, a pint-sized meyhane that serves dishes which mix Iranian and Aegean flavours. While the food is excellent, the wine list is what makes this place extra special – with offerings from smaller wineries along the Aegean coast, Şiraz went beyond the traditional pairing of meze and rakı, and instead paired their unique food with some equally unique Turkish wine.
Where to satisfy your sweet tooth
Baylan’s signature dessert, the Kup Griye
Finally, if you’re craving something sweet, the popular patisserie Baylan has something for everyone. Although it looks a bit worn down from the outside, this pastry shop is an Istanbul institution, and residents from all over the city still flock to Kadıköy for Baylan’s signature dessert, the Kup Griye. A mixture of vanilla and caramel ice cream topped with caramel sauce, chopped pistachios and almonds, crunchy bits of toffee and whipped cream, the Kup Griye is rich and luxurious, a perfect way to end the day.