Booming with life, Istanbul is the social butterfly of Europe where East meets West. Arguably the world’s best cosmopolitan city, Istanbul is certainly not short of places to wine and dine. However, these next restaurants are taking the social culinary experience to a different level. One that, not only gives diners the chance to indulge in rich flavours that intrigue their palates but also gives diners the chance to give back to the community, and the environment.
Eppek bakery has sustainability at the forefront of their business by supporting local farmers and promoting organic bread production. Their main goal is to be able to tell the complete story of the bread they are baking – “In solidarity with the Atalık seed manufacturers, we want to establish ties between the city and the countryside.” All of Eppek Bakery’s ingredients are sustainable and organic; grains are protected from synthetic fertilizers found in most conventional bread. “Our goal is to support local, fair and organic production.”
Hayata Sarıl Lokantası
Hayata Sarıl Lokantası, translating to ‘Hold on to the Life’, is a not-for-profit restaurant that supports the homeless population of Istanbul. The staff are hospitality trainees, formerly homeless men and women who have been taken in from the streets and given skills training in cooking and hospitality, with the hope to open up future employment prospects. The concept of the restaurant was essentially created for homeless people by homeless people, with the Hayata Sarıl Lokantası board predominantly consisting of those who have experienced homelessness at some stage in their lives. From the hours of 11 AM to 6 PM the venue is open to the public, serving a variety of Turkish-fusion cuisine. From 7:30 PM to 9 PM the venue distributes free food to vulnerable members of the community, offering a place of refuge and compassion.
This small, locally run vegan cafe is one of the few restaurants in Istanbul who cater their menu entirely to vegans. Situated on the lower street level in downtown Beyoğlu, the cafe displays a range of vegan foods and desserts that guests can window shop through the glass display cabinet. The food is homemade with love by a sweet Turkish husband and wife and sold for very reasonable prices. Guests recommend the vegan lahmacun and the chocolate brownie for dessert.
Another one for the vegans, and the cat lovers. Muhtelif Mekân is an artsy cafe in Kadıköy and is home to 7 lovely felines who will grace your presence while you enjoy your tasty, cruelty-free meal. Offering a range of vegan and vegetarian dishes, Muhtelif Mekân attracts a good crowd and it’s no surprise why. The staff are super friendly and the place upholds the odd and unconventional vibes that we love about Kadıköy. Apparently, the Tiramisu is delicious too.
Tucked away in one of the laneways of Istanbul’s eccentric neighbourhood of Kadıköy is Müdavim. This charming restaurant offers a unique proposition – opting out of menus and, instead, serving a different range of food options every day. The daily menu is created by the restaurant owner each evening and is dependant on what foods are in season and what flavours he feels like bringing into the space. The food is then homemade locally and delivered to the restaurant each morning. With plenty of vegetarian options, filtered table water (no single-use plastic) and an exciting new menu every day, Müdavim is worth the visit while exploring Kadıköy.
Ek Biç Ye İç
Ek Biç Ye İç is committed to sustainability through the idea that food should be sourced as locally as possible. “We believe that supporting local production is important both for the freshness of our materials, for being harvested in time; for our carbon footprint not to grow anymore, and for the social texture of our city to maintain its wealth by embracing the producers.” The salad and soup-based menu is designed utilising materials grown in the in-house rooftop permaculture garden, promoting ecological values to guests. “We aim to build a community of people who are intellectually, emotionally and physically involved in making city life more sustainable.”
Have I missed any of your favourites? Leave your comments in the section below.
You can find the full Ethical Eateries series here.