It’s no lie that the apex of Istanbul’s nightlife has shifted over from Beyoğlu to Arnavutköy.
Whether it’s the transient nature of Istanbul people, who are always on the lookout for something new, or current political and social factors, the historic neighborhood is definitely on the rise.
Known for its beautiful Ottoman mansions that overlook the Bosphorus, Arnavutköy’s classic fish restaurants are now being rivaled by a wave of new openings.
We took a look at the old and new for a neighborhood roundup.
The Newer Additions
One of the newest destinations for Istanbul’s cool crowd, Hudson is an all day affair from afternoon brunch until cocktails late into the evening. With a chef that used to work at Alancha (one of the city’s best haute cuisine venues) it’s no surprise that the menu is limited but excellent, focusing on quality rather than quantity. On the third floor, the chef’s table is especially notable with a special menu that changes twice a month.
Bebek Arnavutköy Caddesi No. 91 Arnavutköy, +90 212 257 72 66
Quite the hidden café, a small corridor leads to a garden in the back decorated with potted plants and candles as well as the smell of freshly baked pastries and coffee. Apart from the delectable patisserie items like crème filled croissants, lemon tart, and oatmeal cookies, the menu also offers breakfast options and sandwiches. And true to its name, everything liquid is served in a kavanoz (jar).
Tekkeci Sokak, Arnavutköy, +90 212 368 08 08
One of those venues that is always crowded on the weekends (imagine people standing in the streets with drinks in their hands) Whisper is much more than a bar with good music and cocktails. As a restaurant, the dining room’s large windows offer a beautiful Bosphorus view, while the menu has an eclectic scope including Gyoza filled with duck or guacamole nachos with lime sauce.
Bebek Caddesi No. 56/A, Arnavutköy, +90 212 263 10 45
An instant success the day it opened, ANY has become the neighborhood gastrobar, which is almost impossible to enter on weekends because of the cocktail-happy crowds. During the day, the casual eatery, with its colorful stained glass windows and high ceilings, offers a wide selection of food from burgers to wraps, salads to grilled fish. Really a great place to meet with friends at any time of the day.
Bebek Caddesi No.71/A Arnavutköy, +90 212 265 02 69
The third pillar in Arnavutköy’s crowded nightlife scene, Alexandra is a serious cocktail bar that focuses on a menu of changing and imaginative drinks depending entirely on the bartender’s whims. Try the house special, the ‘Knock Knock,’ cocktail, which is ordered by knocking twice on the upstairs wooden bar.
Bebek Arnavutköy Caddesi No. 50, Arnavutköy, +90 212 287 58 48
The eccentric member in Arnavutköy’s nightlife scene, Luzia’s large marble lion is only a harbinger for what awaits at this lovely café and cocktail bar. An extension of Luzia in Kreuzberg (Berlin), the venue is run by filmmaker Kaan Müjdeci and serves micro-roaster coffee during the day and unique cocktail creations at night.
Bebek Arnavutköy Caddesi No.64 Arnavutköy, +90 530 076 28 62
What started out as a small restaurant on a boat turned into a restaurant with an overtly maritime feel in its décor. The anchors and nets hanging on the wall are a small reminder of the past as well as a visual commentary for the excellent seafood that’s served here on a daily basis. Try the deep fried fish balls (a classic) before you order the catch of the day.
Satış Meydanı Sokak No.2 Arnavutköy, +90 212 263 29 33
Another well-known Arnavutköy seafood restaurant, Takanik used to sell fish from a boat before venturing into the restaurant business. The venue may have changed, but the fresh fish is still very much available, as well as delicious meze varieties. Inside you’ll find plenty of fishing boat themed décor, most notably a mural of the former Takanik boat.
Birinci Cadde No.87 Arnavutköy, +90 212 263 83 46
The neighborhood’s upscale version of a seafood restaurant has been popular since the day it opened. Quite the favorite among the neighborhood’s well-to-do residents, Arnavutköy Balıkçısı’s terrace is always full because of its Bosphorus view. Choose from the excellent selection of meze before ordering a freshly grilled fish (with a few glasses of rakı in tow).
Cadde No.4 Arnavutköy, +90 212 257 05 25
Köfteci Ali Baba
When you’re in the mood for something other than seafood, the very casual Köfteci Ali Baba is just the right thing. Certainly some of the best köfte you can find in Istanbul, Ali Baba serves the juicy meatballs the classic way, with a fresh piyaz (white bean vinaigrette) salad and accompanied by onions, tomatoes, and a grilled spicy pepper.
Birinci Caddesi No.104 Arnavutköy, +90 212 263 13 61
Antica Locanda was the neighborhood’s first upscale Italian restaurant when it opened on a cobblestone side street in 2011. Located right next to an old Greek Orthodox Church (which can be viewed from the restaurant’s small garden), the menu reflects Italian chef Gian Carlo’s love for his country’s traditional recipes and ingredients. The fresh burrata served with pulverized tomato, white truffle oil and dried fruits as well as the daily made pasta varieties come highly recommended.
Satış Meydanı, No.12 Arnavutköy, +90 212 287 97 45
When it comes to ice cream, Girandola is a neighborhood classic that is frequented at all hours of the day (even late at night). The authentic Italian ice cream spectrum includes everything from dark chocolate to the minty after eight, Turkish favorite mastic to fresh melon (and everything in between).
Bebek Arnavutköy Caddesi No. 109 Arnavutköy, +90 212 265 26 29
PS: Make sure to check out…
One of the latest additions to the neighborhood (that is not a bar), Kirkit Istanbul’s confluence of traditional Anatolian carpet making techniques and a modern aesthetic have resulted in gorgeous results. The shade rugs are “inspired by the tranquil moments of the nature when nothing but the colors talk,” or in other words, a pixelated texture that is very original, hand woven in Turkey, and made of 100% Anatolian sheep’s wool.
Beyazgül Caddesi No. 63A, Arnavutköy, +90 212 257 2316