Cheers champagne toast
Enjoying some Louis Roederer champagne before dinner

I’ve had some amazing foodie adventures in Istanbul, the capital city of Turkey. I love trying all kinds of new food, whether it’s street food or fancy food in one of the city’s many trendy restaurants. On a recent trip, I had a chance to dine like a sultan at a restaurant that specializes in imperial Ottoman cuisine.

Mezes Turkish food
A selection of cold mezes

Tugra is the fine dining restaurant located inside the spectacular Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul luxury hotel. The hotel, as its name implies, is in a former royal palace. The ornate atmosphere adds to the overall sultan-like experience. It’s located right on the shores of the Bosphorus and diners eating on the restaurant’s large terrace are greeted with some amazing views of the Bosphorus and the Bosphorus Bridge. It’s also one of the few restaurants in the world where you can dine on one continent (Europe) with a view of another (Asia).

Narince Turkish wine
Narince white wine from the center of Turkey

I had an amazing dinner at Tugra, led by the restaurant’s amazing manager. He prepared all kinds of tasting plates for us, allowing me to explore the country with my mouth. You can read all about my dinner at Go World Travel.

CIragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
Lobby selife

Although the Kempinski is a beautiful hotel, you know my love of Shangri-La and on this trip, I stayed at the Shangri-La Bosphorus Istanbul, which isn’t far from the Kempinski. In fact, we walked there. Read more about my stay at the Shangri-La here. Both hotels are in the Besiktas neighborhood, a very popular sea-front area for luxury hotels, palaces and restaurants.

Tugra restaurant
Hot starters

After dinner, we paid a late night visit to the city’s iconic Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. The city is a fascinating, wonderful, historic place to visit. It’s a place where you can dine at a great restaurant then spend the evening at a nightclub that feels like something out of the South of France, only to be woken up just before sunrise by the Muslim call to prayer which is broadcast across the city from loudspeakers attached to the minarets of the city’s mosques. I love the contrasts and extremes you find here.

CIragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
Looking up at the chandelier in the lobby
CIragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
The hotel’s imposing main entrance

As always, I flew to Istanbul in the wonderful Business Class cabin of Turkish Airlines. They have two daily, direct flights from LAX and daily service from almost ten US gateway cities. The onboard food is amazing with each long-haul international flight carrying a flying chef who prepares the meals. Beyond Istanbul, the airline has one of the largest global route networks, serving over 220 destinations around the world.