A day in Old Town can be tiring; you’ve haggled for several hours in the Grand Bazaar and drank several cups of tea in carpets shops, long lines at the historical sights left your feet achy, and you’re approaching a sugar overdose from tasting too much Turkish delight. Then it’s time to have lunch and you have no idea where to go. There are many restaurants all over Sultanahmet but it can be hard stay away from the overly priced tourist traps. The Grand Bazaar is fantastic for shopping, but falls short on the culinary side. But when what you want is some head-space and good grubs, head to Spice Market. Pandeli Restaurant, a 114 year-old establishment will be your rescue.

Enter through the market’s Eminönü entrance and to your left will be the steep and narrow staircase leading you to the beautiful dining room with bright blue İznik tiled walls, crisp white tablecloths and views of Eminönü, Galata Bridge and Tower. Pandeli Restaurant is an oasis in the midst of chaos offering excellent Turkish fare hard to come by in touristic neighborhoods. The service is old school, non-disruptive, and consistent. The staff hasn’t changed much over the years and they only hire new staff to train and stay with them; the main cooks have been here for 45 years, trained by İsmail Demir who has worked as the head chef for 69 years. Wood gets burning at 7:30 am everyday, all dishes are still cooked in copper boilers with wood and coal fire. They’ve been buying their meats, vegetables, butter and olive oil from the same vendors for years and offer a simple yet sophisticated menu. Traditional Turkish dishes are cooked with great care, Hünkar Beğendi, chunks of lamb over an aubergine purée, Zeytinyağlı Yaprak Sarma, stuffed grape leaves, Kuzu Tandır, an oven baked lamb shank, Kağıtta Levrek, sea bass baked in parchment, are among the tastiest dishes on the menu.

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You will want to save room for dessert at Pandeli. Their Kabak Tatlısı, a sweet stewed pumpkin, is lighter than most ones you’ll find at other joints, and the Kazandibi, a pudding made with chicken breast baked in the oven, is out of this world delicious. Top it off with a cup of Turkish coffee and you have yourself a wonderful meal.

You know you will be in good hands at Pandeli; this classic Turkish fare restaurant was featured as one of the best restaurants in Istanbul by Food & Wine magazine. The restaurant is also a hall of fame, having hosted Atatürk, Queen Elizabeth, Audrey Hepburn, Yahya Kemal, Roman Polansky, just to name a few. If three words could describe Pandeli they would be; simplicity, tradition, care. Put this restaurant on the top of your list, and experience the time-tested dishes for yourself.

* Pandeli is only open for lunch, and therefore can get crowded. If you want to have the best views, make sure you reserve a table in the front room.