Datli Maya – before its closure, this tiny, strange cult restaurant in Istanbul was my favourite. This post explores why I used to love it.
Great Istanbul restaurants
‘What’s your favourite restaurant?’
‘Umm… it’s that tiny place in Cihangir. Often closed. Free tea from a samovar upstairs. I can never remember its name.’
‘Those are all brilliant restaurants. Great views. Mouthwatering food. But given a choice for eating by myself, or with a friend visiting Istanbul, I most often go there.’
Why Datli Maya was best
I was once interviewed about my favourite places in Istanbul.
When it came to restaurants, I chose Datli Maya. The shock of my first visit – finding it at random in the cool Cihangir neighbourhood of Istanbul; choosing the food in the entrance hall by the open oven; climbing crooked stairs to the three tables of the minuscule dining zone, past toiling cooks less well-trained in customer relations than the front-of-house folks downstairs; working out how the samovar works.
It was an experience.
The food was hearty, tasty, good value. Datli Maya made strong play of the ethical and organic qualities of its offerings. It certainly looked all-natural and went down a treat.
For: tasty food; bohemian, ethnic atmosphere; somewhat off the beaten track yet handy for the main tourist sites in Beyoglu; felt an authentic Turkish dining experience in a cosmopolitan city.
Against: long since closed
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