Editors note: Sirkeci Balikcisi has closed! Sorry!
Sometimes it seems like Istanbul has one fish restaurant per resident. So with all these seafood choices, how does one pick a place to masticate? Let us consider three criteria: quality of food and preparation, price to quality ratio, and a combination of service-staff, atmosphere, and location.
For me, the first criteria is the single most important and provides an immediate “go/no-go” result. Nothing else matters in your restaurant if the food does not meet or, preferably, exceed my expectations and Sirkeci Balıkçısı (Sirkeci Fish Restaurant) has passed with flying colors. I had the çinekop (bluefish), pictured below, which I opted to have grilled rather than pan-fried because it preserves the fish flavor better and produces a more delicate, flaky meat. These little guys were delicious, brushed only with olive oil, the chef clearly knows that nature does it best, and there is no reason to add anything extra to an already tasty morsel. Props to the salad artist as well, no idea how they make such complex shapes out of cucumber and tomato but they tasted good and that’s all that matters.
The bluefish was 39 lira off the fresh selections menu. It was served with fresh baked bread with hummus and olive oil to start, and a beautiful salad with half a boiled potato to balance. Believe me, this is a great price for Istanbul, a whole fish dinner for only 17 Euros in a full service place with fresh table cloths and candles only five minutes walk from Sultanahmet.
Service was excellent, there is nothing more to say about that. The location is excellent, just between the tramway road and the outer walls of Topkapı palace, on Taya Hatun Sk. (near the Gülhane tram stop). Decor is lively, avoiding the kitsch nautical theme so common these days. Instead there is an awesome cast-iron chandelier with matching candle stick holders and just a few wall decorations denoting an aquatic agenda.
I had water with my dinner but a full wine list and Efes are also available. The menu offers few non-seafood options as a main course for any vegan or assorted other non-fish-eaters in your party, but they should be used to eating mezes and salads by now anyway. Make sure to call or make a reservation online, the place is full on summer evenings.
- Don’t Miss: Ask for the chef’s fish of the day
- Best Perk: Fresh food, good value
- Average Price: 50tl (with meze and drink)