The Galata Tower Restaurant

After being in Istanbul a couple of times, and being myself not much a museum/church/mosque person, I went to the Grand Bazaar, and of course, to the Spice Market. With that name, I had to go to the Spice Market, but that is a different subject…

When I learnt that, on the top of Galata Tower, that beautiful historic building there was a restaurant with a panoramic view of the whole city and the Bosphorus, decided that I had to go. Made a brief research in the Internet and didn’t find much about the restaurant itself. I did find information about the history of the tower, what encouraged me more to make it my destination, but not the restaurant.

A little of history

The tower was built by the Genovese in 1348 as the defensive point for their trading colony in Constantinopla. Along history the Galata Tower had different uses, like spotting fires. For a long part of history it was the tallest building in the city, with a strategic view to the Golden Horn and the trading routes.

Today it hosts a restaurant on the 9th floor and a cafe on the 10th, that every now and then, has a folkloric show. More reasons to want to go. The Galata Tower is located in the neighborhood with the same name. Is a bustling place, with shops open until late at night and lots of tourists, both Turkish from other parts of the country, and international. Nice coffee shops and bars, and of course, the cheeky ice cream stands.

How to book a table

Due to the lack of information online (there is no official website, and Google only lists one phone number) and because I was determined to go, I started the quest to get a reservation. And because it was a quest to get there, I decided to write this tutorial on how to get it.

So, the Galata Tower is a three-in-one building: the historic building with the lookout on the top, the coffee shop on the 10th floor, and the restaurant on the 9th floor. To access any of these you have to pay an entry fee. This entry fee is 35 Turkish Lira. This has to be paid in cash only, and only in local currency, TL or TRY.

Typically there will be a long long queue to access the tower. The reservation to the restaurant will exempt you from queuing, but first you will have to have that reservation. For that I strongly suggest you to be patient. The phone number to call is +90 212 293 8180.

Is very difficult to get the phone picked up. Early in the morning does not work. Some times you have to call 10 or 15 times, some times takes longer than that. My best shots were at noon, after the lunch service. But, again, be patient. Once they pick up the phone, is easy, they speak English.

Selecting the table

When you call, ask for a table on the window. Windows in the tower are narrow, and they put the tables as radios in a wheel, from the window to the center of the tower. Remember, the tower is a a cylinder, so if you ask for a table for eight, only one couple will be next to the window. Tables at the window are not easy to get. Book in advance as far in advance as you can, even a couple of months in advance. Just to be sure.

The restaurant

After spending a couple of hours in the phone trying to get it picked up, so I could make the reservation, then arriving to the tower, where we jumped the line (benefit of dining at the tower) I had to leave and find a money exchange to get Turkish Liras for the entry fee, then, I was granted access to one of the elevators.

Once upstairs, it was like being transported in time. The food is traditional Turkish food. Set in an a historic room and with a great service. Menus in English and Turkish. The dishes are being served in old style plates and presented at the table with bell-covers. We were a party of eight and did a Russian Roulette menu. I ended up with a Sultan’s Delight, a lamb stew served over eggplant purée that was to die for.

The overall experience was fantastic after we made it to the restaurant. Details to notice before you go there: there is no alcohol being served at the restaurant. There is no Wi-Fi, and dinner is extremely affordable! I don’t use the word “cheap” because nothing was cheap here. The ingredients were fresh, the cooking was neat, the presentation of the dishes was curated and the service was very attentive.

A challenge to get there, but a superd, exotic, truly Turkish delight!

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