Beyoğlu has been my home for the past three years. I live and work here. It’s local, historical and cosmopolitan. The backstreets of Istiklal Caddesi are always full of surprises. Narrow and hilly streets that host diverse communities living in harmony, are in ‘perfect disorder’ with one another.
Despite the dazzling crowds and the chaotic formation of Istiklal Caddesi, you can find plenty of peaceful residential areas only a few minutes walk from the main highstreet. Galata, Cihangir, Galatasaray and Çukurcuma are perfect examples of these unique areas. I wanted to dedicate this post to my favorite Çukurcuma neighborhood hide-away: Cuma.
Çukurcuma Neighborhood: The Antique Quartier
I moved to Beyoglu in 2012 and became a living witness of its tremendous change: Throughout history, Çukurcuma was predominantly a Non-muslim neighborhood of Istanbul. Now, bohemian types, young hipsters, a mixed bunch of expats, and lots of Şerafettin type of cats (search Şeraffetin on Google) make up its new population. They frequent its antique stores, unique design shops, vintage fashion houses, kinky Turkish baths and, of course, its cool cafés.
Cuma: Cozy and Delicious
One of Çukurcuma’s best eateries is Cuma. Owned and run by Banu Tiryakioğlu: mother of two, a Netflix series enthusiast, and a fantastic host and cook. Cuma is located right across from the historical wooden Çukurcuma Mosque in a serene, calm street next to some interesting antique shops. The two floor restaurant has a beautiful small courtyard surrounded by flowers and a very intimate upper floor where they prepare and cook the food.
Cuma has a promising menu covering breakfast, lunch and dinner and, for the quality of the food on offer, the prices are veryreasonable. Ever since opening, they have strived to constantly change and improve the menu. In November for example, month they even added a special dish in remembrance of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Turkish Republic, for the 77th anniversary of his death. (Fresh Fava Bean Paste with Marinated Grouper in case you’re wondering – a supposed favorite of his.)
Their breakfast menu highlights are: Turkish breakfast plate consisting of variety of cheese, olives, pastes, jams, simit, home-made bread, honey and kaymak (Turkish clotted cream). But no breakfast is complete without eggs. So I therefore highly recommend ordering the eggs with wild mushrooms as well.
For lunch and dinner you have over 30 options. Veggie Tacos to Mixed Grain Salad with pears, walnuts and kale and Wild Mushrooms & Goat Cheese Pizzetta are just some of my favourites.
They are alsoopen for dinner, serving food until midnight 12pm with and appealing range of freshly shaken cocktails and a decent Turkish wine list. Chmlija or Prodom Wine brands are both highly recommended. Chamlija wine bottles even have artsy hand-drawn illustrations on their labels. Make sure you save some room for dessert though, as the sweets and pastries are also not be missed.
Address: Çukur Cuma Cd. No:53 Tel: 0 212 293 2062 Web: www.cuma.cc
Other Secrets of Çukurcuma
Down the street from Cuma, you can find the famous Museum of Innocence, a museum designed after the best-selling novel of Nobel Laurate writer Orhan Pamuk. You should also check out the specialty shops of Hamm (home-décor), Civan (hand-made men’s wear), Chez-Bo (bohemian women’s wear) and numerous art galleries showcasing prominent and upcoming contemporary Turkish artists.
If you have any questions or comments about this post, feel free to drop a comment below.