Tonight we had dinner at a Turkish mall. 

Let me explain. We’ve booked our lodging through Roomorama, and got a really cheap deal on a room in Istanbul with full use of an apartment that has wifi and laundry. The owner is in Hong Kong for the week, so we have the place to ourselves at least for a few days, until some other guests arrive. About $15 a night per person for our own apartment? Yes, please! 

The other advantage (mostly) is that we’re in a completely residential area of Istanbul, called Mecidiyiköy, which is a couple metro stops away from Taksim Square, on the European side of the city. I’m pretty sure we’re the only tourists around. Our street is rife with burger joints, grocery shops, and locals just doin’ their thang. 

There is also a huge mall, Profilo, about a block away. That’s where we ate dinner last night. 

Why the heck would you eat dinner in a mall in Istanbul? You might be thinking. Not a strange question, as I would probably ask the same myself to any other traveler telling me this story. For good reason! I reply. The locals directed us to it! And I kid you not. 

Like most travelers, Boris & I prefer not to eat in super touristy areas. Prices are better, and usually quality is higher, when you get out of the craziness of the tourist district in any city you’re in. Istanbul is no different. So, being in a normal neighborhood, we asked a lady on the street where she recommended to eat. In broken English, she told us the name of a place that was pretty cheap, and gestured directions. With the name in mind, we turned and went in search of this local eatery, wondering what it would be like.

We stopped a couple times and asked for directions of a group of men sitting in a little convenience store. They gave us a thumbs up when we asked whether this place was good, and proceeded to direct us to the food court of Profilo Mall. And so we went. 

We ate a two-course meal with Turkish apple tea at Otantik, which is a Turkish chain. The prices were good. The food was good. The waiter was nice. And again, we were the only tourists in the place. Apparently there are other locations in more trafficked parts of town, but we were hanging out in the mall in Istanbul for dinner. There was also a KFC in the food court.