This Istanbul lokanta (restaurant) dishes up the past along with steam-trays of Turkish soul-food. The rich and famous are known for their particular tastes in food IE: Carnegie Deli in New York, and in Sirkeci (just down the hill from Sultanahmet) Konyalı is preserving a similar sense of importance without the glitz and glamor.
A lokanta is is a sort of cafeteria for working people. The food is generally pre-cooked and served out from steam trays. It is not traditional to be given an hour for lunch here, so the quicker you can get your food and eat, the sooner you will be drinking çay (tea) which is necessarily consumed out of small glass tulip glasses directly following a meal.
Since opening in 1897 the long list of past patrons here includes Henry Ford, Queen Elizabeth, Atatürk, Dick Nixon, Muhammed Ali, and Lisa Minelli; but you probably wouldn’t know it unless someone told you. There are no signed head-shots crowding the walls, but rather a rich texture of marble prevails in the turn-of-the-century motif.
I showed up fairly early on a Saturday morning so the place was deserted except for a few drowsy eyed employees, and the selection of food was limited. They hold off cooking up too much food until the lunch rush is expected. The karısık etli sebzeli börek (mixed veggie and meat pastry) was fresh out of the oven so I opted for this typical Turkish breakfast confection. With a crispy, flaky, and seemingly hand rolled crust with succulent inside the börek stood up easily to my standards though checking in at 9tl was a bit pricey for breakfast.
Lunch and dinner times offer a wide variety of pre-made stews and casseroles, as well as made-to-order kebaps and köftes (grilled meatballs.) Find the place just across Ankara Caddesi from the Sirkeci train station The store front for the Konyalı Pastane (sweet shop) will lead you into the main restaurant and dinning hall.
- Don’t Miss: Patlicanli kebap (grilled eggplant)
- Best Perk: History & fresh food
- Average Price: 15tl