Stars for quality restaurants. Photo: Slawomira Kozieniec

Kumkapı, a charming old neighborhood in the tourist heart of Istanbul, always attracts many visitors. A district with cobblestone streets and numerous terraces, where many Armenians and Greeks used to live. In the evenings there are always a lot of tourists who visit the traditional Turkish meyhanes (restaurants).
Fish is the main ingredient for dinner because the district is on the waterfront and close to the fishing ports. The atmosphere and friendliness are enhanced by the live music of gypsies.
Kumkapı also has the reputation of being a “tourist trap”. Guests are made to pay prices that are way too high and not all eateries are serious enough about hygiene while storing and preparing food..
Brigit Kooijmans from Haarlem in the Netherlands was one of the tourists who had a bad experience and left Kumkapı angry and disappointed. “My daughter, with whom I was in Istanbul, wanted pizza. As we walked along the street with restaurants a guy showed us a menu with photos of dishes, including pizzas”, says Brigit. “The pizzas were – the Italian way – filled with vegetables and the like. On the photos at least. I think they cost 10 Turkish Lira. Once we were seated it turned out that 10 lira covered only the bare pizza bottom. You had to choose the toppings, which were not included in the price. We had to pay for everything separately: bread, water. In the end we had to pay around 80 lira (€ 40) instead of the 20 lira (€ 10) we thought we would pay.
Now there is good news for all tourists. Mayor Mustafa Demir of the Fatih district – which Kumkapı belongs to – has decided to end the bad reputation of the restaurants and to raise the quality of service and food.
“The restaurants here should represent us in the best way. By creating competition, we will make restaurants eliminate their problems,” said the mayor.
Each restaurant gets a flag with the number of quality stars for hygiene, quality of food and service, and price level. From now on tourists will be able to make a choice based on their budget and the quality of the restaurants so they will not be cheated anymore.
My suggestion to the mayor of Istanbul? Start to check all restaurants in Istanbul and introduce the same star system for every restaurant. That will improve the quality and the professionalism of all restaurants.

Looking for a 5 star restaurant in Kumkapı?

Kalamar Restaurant
Capari Sokak No. 19
Tel: 0212 517 1849