getting lunch around the conference center

View lunch places in 4. Levent in a larger map

4. Levent is one of the business districts of Istanbul. Originally a neighborhood of small villas, Levent re-invented itself as a neighborhood where highrises share space with these small villas, most of which nowadays house small, but highly prestigious businesses. The Sabancı Towers, which are the actual conference venue, are the headquarters of Sabancı Holding who are the second largest corporation in Turkey, and also the biggest contributors to Sabanci University's endowment.

Two shopping malls which are close to the conference center have nice food courts. Kanyon mall (top image), which is well known for its architecture (photograph courtesy of Muammer Okumuş), is not exactly walking distance, however is only one metro stop away, going back towards the city. So, you would get on the metro at 4. Levent, which is a 3 minute walk from the conference center and go back one stop to Levent.

Sapphire mall (lower image - the mall itself is located in the protruding lower part) on the other hand, is very easy walking distance: Cut across to Büyükdere Caddesi, then use the metro underpass to get to the other side, stay underground and follow the arrows for Sapphire. You will actually go down one more flight of escalators to get inside the mall, however this entrance will land you straight inside one of the two food courts which the mall has. The lower one is all Turkish franchises, whereas the second one, which is on the top floor, is all international stuff. The mall is a new one, which is a Godsend since it is not as overcrowded as some of the better known older ones, and therefore you should not have too hard a time finding seats in the food areas. Although the mall is an expensive one, the food prices are regular mall prices. So a meal there will probably cost you from 5 to 12 Euros, and the same sort of price range more or less applies to Kanyon's food court as well.

A great find is the lunch-hour restaurant Yemek Pazarı (image above), which is actually on the same side of Büyükdere Caddesi as the conference center (I have marked it up on the google map). Extremely reasonable prices, (vegetable dishes and meat casseroles starting from 7YTL - which is like 4 Euros!) and a really nice, wholesome ambiance. I was there in the afternoon so the place was more or less deserted, however the manageress told me that they have a big buffet bar for the lunch time crowd as well. My guess is that this place will be overfilled during lunch hour, nonetheless certainly worth a try...

If eating at a mall is not to your liking (although I have to say that Sapphire is your best bet, in terms of variety and even more importantly in terms seating availability), and if Yemek Pazarı is full, then there are also cafes and little restaurants which are very reasonably priced (5 to 10 Euros) on the street on which the conference center is. Just make a right when you head out and you will see them about 50 meters down the street on both sides of the street.

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