A Celiac-Friendly Spot in Istanbul


I’ve written before about why I try to avoid tourist traps. When visiting a city for the first time, the last thing I want to do is to spend time in a restaurant that locals disdain. Are there tour buses lined up outside the restaurant? Then the place is not for me.

But, as it turns out, there are exceptions to the rule. One prime example: Buhara 93.

This restaurant is located around the corner from the wonderful Erguvan Hotel, where I stayed in Istanbul. Both are located in Sultanahmet, the oldest part of the ancient city, situated on the European side of the Bosphorus. This district is filled with wonders, many of which are within easy walking distance of the others: Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, the Hippodrome. There were tour groups parading in and out of the attractions, of course, but I also noticed that buses would wait outside of Buhara 93 every night. As if that weren’t bad enough, the restaurant was mentioned in every guidebook I picked up.

Then, on the last night of my stay, my schedule ran very late. Back at my hotel, I knew I needed to grab dinner somewhere, but wasn’t sure what to do. Suddenly, the proximity of Buhara 93 seemed, if not alluring, then at least appealing.

Inside the restaurant, I had my first surprise. I handed the host my Turkish celiac card, and he exclaimed, in English, “Celiac disease! Yes, we know this!” He was familiar with the disorder, simply because, with so many tourists from various countries coming through, he and the rest of the restaurant’s staff had encountered it many times before. He was able to point out to me what would be celiac-safe on the menu. There weren’t many choices, but the tomato salad and lamb kebabs I had were delicious. Buhara 93 doesn’t serve alcohol, but they do offer fresh-squeezed juices, including a pomegranate drink I wished I could take home with me.

I had a great meal, but also an important lesson: sometimes it pays to check out spots that specialize in the tourist trade. Lesson learned.

Buhara 93 [address] Nakilbent Sok. 15A (just outside the Hippodrome), Istanbul, Turkey [tel] 0212-518-1511

6 thoughts on “A Celiac-Friendly Spot in Istanbul

  1. We did an organised tour of turkey which included a one day tour of Istanbul. At least three days is needed. The food, the people, the place and ahhhh! the apple tea. We will return.

  2. I highly recommend Chez Vous restaurant in the BeyoÄŸlu area on “French Street”. The cook/owner has celiac disease so she completely understands the issues. Also, she sometimes has gluten-free bread. In addition, the food is excellent and a little different from the traditional Turkish fare. It is still Turkish, but with a little added flair. All in all, a wonderful experience.

  3. I just wanted to write to say thank you! I have a long long list of allergies, the most prominent being gluten. Not only have I scoured your pages for restaurant recos in Istanbul but the Gluten Free celiac card has been one of the biggest ‘finds’. On the back, with help from google translator, I’ve been able to make tiny laminated cards to keep with me so I can keep myself safe!

    One of the biggest questions I get from my friends and family about my travel is “Aren’t you afraid of getting sick?” and with help of wonderful people like you that I can leave home and venture out into the world feeling empowered to eat at restaurants where they may not speak English.

    Thank you for blogging and providing such amazing tools to help others.

    Amanda Lynne
    Toronto, Canada

  4. I am celiac and about to visit Istanbul in 3 weeks, thankyou for your comments and suggestions, very helpful

  5. we had trip to istanbul 8-11 MAR 2014,and we have Turkish celiac card,but any restaurant didnt replyand didnt know its,
    my wife has Celiac disease,we had very problems.
    in bohara93 ,i dont think ” it is celiac-safe”,
    before trip,she cook more bread

  6. Thank you SO much for the Intel. I have very severe celiac. I’ve used the cards when in Paris. Relieved they are available in Turkish and Greek!

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