It’s been awhile since I wrote about an Istanbul restaurant so I wanted to come back with one of our favorites – Köfteci Yaşar – which Gürkan discovered. This little gem is tucked away in the Eminönü bazaar district, and every single time we try to find it, we inevitably cannot, and have to ask for directions from several shop owners. The small restaurant is right next to a mosque which may or may not be helpful because there are plenty of mosques in the area. Perhaps more helpful is that it’s located in the corner where the wholesale burlap sellers are located. My advice – be prepared to get lost and ask for directions once you get close. We’ve found that almost everyone in the bazaar knows Köfteci Yaşar.
We really like this place, I mean, a lot. We woke up on Saturday with nothing to do (a huge relief!) so we had a small breakfast in Beşiktaş and made a day of walking from Beşiktaş to Eminönü, just so we could have a meal at Köfteci Yaşar. In fact, Köfteci Yaşar was the only plan for the day while the long walk (we also made it to the colorful neighborhoods of Balat and Fener) was just a treat to spend a wonderful day in the sun.
Köfteci Yaşar is a small operation. I know for sure that they have köfte (meatballs), biftek (steak), and piyaz (a cold white bean salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice), but there may be a few other meat options as well. Today, we had the piyaz and two plates of the biftek. I actually think the biftek is a tad on the salty side (Turkish food tends to be), BUT I can overlook that, because it’s extremely delicious. It’s perfectly prepared – pink inside and very juicy – and today it came sprinkled with a generous helping of oregano. I love it for its simplicity.
There are usually only three men working – one behind the grill, one taking orders and one helper- meaning there is way too much going on for three people to handle so they sometimes forget things. Be prepared to gently remind the server if he initially brings one entree instead of two which is what happened today.
The restaurant is cash only. For two biftek portions and a large portion of piyaz, we paid 42 TL. Outdoor seating is available which is what I recommend. Stick to the table under the umbrella. The pigeons perched on the tree above can send down surprises for the unassuming customer. This happened to us the first time we visited in summer.
Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Mahkeme Sokak, No 21, Fatih, İstanbul
I don’t think this map is spot on, but it’s definitely the general area.