As part of tag day, Wu Wei lists her top five favorite restaurants. It looks like everyone else who's participating described their favorites in their city, but I don't feel like limiting myself to Istanbul, or just five, or just restaurants.
Now that we've been abroad for almost four and half years, we get very attached to certain places, mostly because what they serve cannot be replicated anywhere else. This is my list of restaurants I wish delivered to Istanbul.
Kafe Bogatir on Trukhaniv Island, Kyiv: This is the single thing I miss about Ukraine. Today, a sunny Sunday, I wish I was sitting in its plastic chairs, under the beer-brand umbrellas with my peeps, dogs under the table, silently begging with soft brown dogeyes. It has a few flaws, but there simply is no better pork, anywhere. I've heard the owners have upgraded the patio, probably with capital we provided last summer, but the pork is as succulent as ever. Kafe Bogatir appears in the new Bradt Guide to Ukraine so I hope success doesn't go to their head. All hail Vitaly the Swine Master. I still have his number in my phone. I'd pay for his ticket.
World of Urine, Tbilisi: OMG how I love this place and how I could make a special trip to Tbilisi just to have their Kupati and pkali. The food and wine is otherwordly. The service friendly and helpful (if you want to know the difference between an Abkhaz and Ossetian Kupati, the owner will tell you, in Russian). Tsinidali is a dollar a glass. Not only do I wish they delivered, I wish I could live in their caves.
Doga Balik, Istanbul: Picking a favorite fish restaurant in Istanbul is like picking a favorite Chinese restaurant in Beijing, but we ate here the other night with our guests and it was stupendous. Usually places with views slide on the food and service, but not here. The fish is great, which is not unusual. What is unusual is the array of mezzes. Most restaurants have a pretty standard selection, but DB has lots of really tasty green ones made of everything from seaweed from the Black Sea to carrot and tomato greens. Aegean crab (like a miniature Dungeness -- sorry, it's the only kind I know) and Aegean Oysters (ordered, but for some reason not served. That reason may be me not knowing the Turkish word for oysters) are in season now. And they undercharged us, so we left a big tip. Doga Balik DOES deliver food, but they can't deliver the view.
El Toro Taqueria, San Francisco: Burrito wars in San Francisco are as intensely fought (and about as interesting) as fish wars in Istanbul. I've been going to El Toro Taqueria at the corner of 17th and Valencia for about 10 years and it never lets me down. I once packed one up and brought it home to Portland for the Producer. Since Mexican food cannot be reproduced reliably outside of Mexico or the West/SW of the United States, our Bay Area friends tried to figure out how to carry one to Istanbul with them. Huarache Azteca on International Boulevard in Oakland serves to die-for Huaraches, but my sources say there have been a lot of shootings lately in that hood, making the trip more hazardous. Delivery would be a lot safer, for me at least.
Laurelwood Brew Pub's Free Range Red, Portland OR. This beer is best drunk anywhere else other than its Hollywood pub, which is way too kid-friendly for me. Delivery is perfect. Maybe they'll stop and pick me up a bucket of steamers from Pal's Shanty. Don't forget the extra nectar.
In and Out Burger: If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand.
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Nicole (Sydney, Australia)
velverse (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
LB (San Giovanni in Marignano, Italy)
Selba (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Olivia (London, England)
ML (Utah, USA)
Lotus (Toronto, Canada)
tanabata (Saitama, Japan)
Andi (Dallas [ish], Texas, United States)
Todd (Louisville, Kentucky, United States)
miss kendra (los angeles, california, u.s.a)
Jiggs Casey (Berkeley, CA, USA! USA! USA!)
Tits McGee (New England, USA)
Kat (Ontario, Canada)
badgerdaddy (Ludlow, Shropshire, England)
Dandelion (England, Great Britain)
Ms Melancholy (Yorkshire, UK)
Wu Wei (currently in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, sometimes in Oxford, UK)