Istanbul is now even easier than ever to reach – this year, Turkish Airlines will increase service from the US with the opening of its 10th gateway this spring in Newark, NJ. The airline currently flies direct from New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Chicago, L.A and San Francisco.

So what to do in Istanbul? Eat, of course. The following is a list of experiential dining venues that highlight a trip to the crossroads of civilization.

Dine with the Pashas: Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul

Tuğra Restaurant is located at the legendary Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul, a former Ottoman palace, that sits right along the shores of the Bosporus means “the signature of the Sultan” is Turkish, the restaurant matches its namesake as it is the signature restaurant of Çırağan Palace Kempinski.

Located on the first floor of the property, Tuğra which sits on the European side of Istanbul, overlooks the trans-continental Strait with stunning vistas of Asia. The property offers an elegant ambience with ornate furnishings that embodies the royal Ottoman aesthetic.

Executive Chef Huseyin Ulas, has created a menu with many exciting yet traditional offerings to create the ultimate Ottoman dining experience.

Tuğra’s classic menu item starters include Fihi Ma Fih Soup, and an array of mezze (Turkish small plates). The main menu is populated with local favorites ranging from Testi’ Lamb Casserole, to oven baked whole bass in rock salt dough, and Chicken Topkapı or Külbastı (prepared according to the guest’s choice of sliced lamb loin, beef tenderloin or free-range corn-fed chicken thigh). The restaurant also has an extensive dessert menu with something that would satisfy various sweet cravings.

Travelers can purchase a voucher for Tuğra Restaurant for an unparalled fine-dining experience.

Journey through Asia in Istanbul at Raffles

Isokyo is in the first ever Forbes Travel Guide five-star rated property in Istanbul – Raffles Istanbul.
The venue brings new energy to the Istanbul dining scene with innovative Pan-Asian cuisine, taking guests on a culinary journey through Asia, starting in Istanbul and ending in Tokyo, as the name Isokyo is a portmanteau of the two cities.


Isokyo presents an array of impressive art works bearing Asian influence and complementing the stylish, unconventional and creative selections of Isokyo’s contemporary Pan-Asian cocktails and cuisine. An evening at Isokyo might start in the champagne room with its striking decor and relaxed ambiance.

A few of the most eye-catching selections from the menu ISOKYO patrons will savor with relish include:


·          Slow-cooked and Tom Yum style bok choy served with root vegetables
·          Lamb shank with Asian mushrooms
·          Steamed wild seabass in a ginger soy sauce
·          Grilled salmon whose flavor is enhanced by soybean mashed potatoes with a miso white sauce
·          Beef tataki accompanied by cilantro and honey topped with crispy sunroot chips
·          Steamed Bao Buns filled with Asian cabbage and pulled rib meat
·          Flavored black Atlantic cod marinated in miso sauce.

Isokyo also features a “chef's table,” where diners are personally served by executive chef Clinton Cooper, who has had an illustrious career from Shanghai to Dubai. Chef Cooper ensures to incorporate the Pan-Asian experiences he has had in all menu items at Isokyo.


Chic Dining in the Heart of Galata

Neolokal, another staple in Istanbul focuses on fresh, locally sourced ingredients to recreate traditional Turkish cuisine with extreme attention given to the quality and source of ingredients. Blending in rare, heritage foods, Chef Maksut Aşkar leads the young, energetic team of staff to create a new and refined perception of traditional Turkish classics.

The restaurant is located in SALT Galata, an art space in a former bank building with a gallery to enjoy fine works after a delicious meal, the restaurant is in the waterfront district of Karaköy, soon to be home to a bustling cruise port and lifestyle destination, Galataport, set to welcome its first ship in 2020.