For visitors in Istanbul, finding a decent place to eat at in the historical peninsula might be a bit of a challenge. While there are some excellent places to be found, most restaurants near the popular sights tend to be tourist traps. This doesn’t necessarily mean overpriced food, but a generally tacky atmosphere and tasteless meals. If you want to get away from the touristy scene of the historical peninsula without going too far, and have a simple and fast lunch like the local shopkeepers, I recommend the Borsa restaurant in Eminönü.
Borsa is a small local chain with upscale a la carte restaurants in a few locations and humble self-service restaurants in the central districts of Beyoğlu (pictured) and Eminönü. These latter places operate on a simple basis: grab your tray and pick out your meal from the daily variety of dishes. There are name cards on each item to help the English speakers, just point at the dish and the cook will plate it for you – to sample small portions of a lot of things, say “az” as you choose. Borsa offers soups, warm vegetable and meat dishes as well as zeytinyağlıs: these are very tasty and light olive-oil based dishes served chilled, suitable for vegetarians. There are also salads, desserts and alcoholic beverages on offer.
Whether on the busy Istiklal Caddesi or Eminönü, Borsa is there to help the frustrated tourist or the homesick Turkish student and treat them to an inexpensive, delicious and simple lunch.