In recent years, Karaköy became one of the most rising districts in Istanbul as a result of gentrification. New restaurants and shops open every month; some get more popular day by day, others vanish after a couple of weeks. In this rapidly changing environment, there are also classics that can be considered as symbols of Karaköy. The first one that comes to my mind is Karaköy Lokantası.
I see Karaköy Lokantası as a spot with two identities: a chic tradesmen restaurant by day and a tavern by evening. Lunch and dinner menus differ from each other, the former changes daily based on the fresh and seasonal ingredients available. For lunch (if it’s on the menu), I highly recommend yaprak ciger (leaf liver) served with tomato rice. The liver is cut so thin it looks a leaf, that’s where the name comes from. For dinner, I love their butter shrimp and grilled octopus. Don’t forget to save room for dessert, ayva tatlisi (quince dessert) and chocolate souffle are delicious.
With its turquoise tiled walls, white tablecloths and spiral staircase, Karaköy Lokantası has an iconic atmosphere. It is much more fancy than a tradesmen restaurant but still down to earth and comfortable. Keep in mind that the lokanta is closed from 16:00 to 18:00 as they are getting ready for the evening. A reservation is highly recommended.