This is a tiny little hole-in-the-wall joint that has maybe three or four tables. All they serve is meatballs. They’ve been doing the same thing since 1958. And they have their own formula, which they don’t share with anyone. There’s bread on the table and you can order a white bean salad to go with the meatballs, but that’s it. It’s in Beyoğlu, a lot of which is pedestrianised and great for walking around, which makes it a perfect place to stop for lunch when you’re exploring the city.
Köfteci Hüseyin, Kurabiye Sk. 9/A
Another place I’m very fond of is Suna’nın Yeri, a little fish restaurant on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. You can’t make reservations. You just have to turn up and wait for a table. Design-wise it’s not up to much but they have a courtyard that faces the water, and they serve the freshest fish. The red mullet is superb. In general, the Asian side is more residential but there’s a string of untouched little village neighbourhoods along the Bosphorus, which give you a great sense of the city as it used to be. The restaurant is right next to a pier, so you can travel there by boat or water taxi and bypass all the traffic.
Suna’nın Yeri, Kandilli İskele Cd. 4
I actually designed this restaurant many years ago, but I still visit all the time and it’s still a buzzing and vibrant place. It’s in Bebek and again it’s on the Bosphorus, but on the European side. The food is excellent and there’s a real mix: everything from tacos, to steak to grilled sea bass. It’s on the corner of the street and its outside terrace is quite a spectacle. Later in the evening they start to crank it up. It’s a great place to get a feel of modern Istanbul.
Lucca, Cevdet Paşa Cd. 51/A, luccastyle.com
Emir Uras is the founder and director of the architecture practice URAStudio urastudio.com