Istanbul is a place where modern Europe is combined in a fascinating way with Arab and Asian influences. This combination provides a wonderful mix of bars, cafes and restaurants. My suggestion would be to try to stay at Pera Palace. This hotel breaths the grandeur of former times and will get you straight in the right mood.
For restaurants my first suggestion would be to go to Arabesque. You will feel like you have entered a Harem with typical designs and western and oriental music. The food is delicious and during dinner you will be entertained with belly dancers and other performances. The Owner Izzet Capa has two more restaurants and knows how to treat his guest. Please make sure to make a reservation, find details herewith: Taşkışla Cad. Maçka Demokrasi Parkı Yani No:19, Maçka – Istanbul, Tel: (212) 231 03 56.
Some other restaurants I can suggest are Balkon restaurant, Mikla restaurant, both offering great views over town. These are restaurants for which you might want to dress up a bit and then please enjoy.
But there is also a funky side to Istanbul. Take Parentez Bistro as an example, which is a bar tucked away in a neighbourhood where I’m sure you will have some new finds also. Or Lokal Tunel a kind of lofty space in the same area. And the cafe’s from Thales are certainly also worth mentioning because of the lively crowd and open atmosphere.
Istanbul is changing a lot and I look forward to hear what gems you have found when visiting this city!