This year, many members of the expat community will be celebrating the beloved holiday of Valentine's Day a bit differently. With anti-Valentine's day parties and ladies-only dinners, those who are single won't have to shy away from the holiday. There also will be more traditional options to dine on gourmet feasts with your significant other.
Top suggestion for lovers: Le Cuistot Studio
In a league of its own is Le Cuistot Studio, a gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurant in Tarabya owned by Belgian chef Carlos Le Cuistot Studio. In addition to preparing pastries, quiches and ready-made meals, there is also an a la carte menu with burgers, pastas and international entrée favorites, and the space is widely popular among the expat community.
For Valentine's Day, Le Cuistot Studio will be serving a very romantic dinner with live music on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 14. The four-course meal will include a choice of salmon tartare or veggie terrine and sautéed shrimp as a starter with a rack of lamb with potato gratin or seabass as an entree finished off with a duo of desserts and gourmet coffee.
In addition to hosting a special candlelight dinner for Valentine's Day, on Saturdays Le Cuistot Studio also offers a full gourmet meal with live music by Damlalar, a trio that plays jazzy renditions of nostalgic songs.
Ladies-only Valentine's dinner at Los Altos
This year, all single – or taken – ladies will have the opportunity to take part in a female-exclusive dinner to celebrate Valentine's Day. Called the "Ladies Only Galentine's Day," this very special dinner is being hosted by Yabangee at Los Altos, a spectacular rooftop Mexican restaurant located in the Tom Tom neighborhood in the heart of Beyoğlu. Yabangee is an extremely active volunteer community and informative website that also hosts a number of events geared toward foreigners residing in Istanbul and will also be hosting an anti-Valentine's Day party on the night itself. This, however, will be their first ever ladies-only event, and interest for this special "Galentine's Dinner" has been raining in. This informal event, which will be held on Thursday, Feb.13, will be an opportunity for women to enjoy an evening of authentic Mexican cuisine to a live Mariachi band amid stunning views of the Bosporus while networking with other fellow female internationally minded Istanbul residents.
Doors will open at 7:30 p.m., and the dinner will start at 8 p.m. and will consist of your choice of tacos as an appetizer, with bean, chicken, fish and beef options followed by a choice of entrée with options such as enchiladas and quesadillas, accompanied by chips, salsa and guacamole. The set menu costs TL 70 per person, and space is limited and filling fast, but information on how to reserve your spot can be found on the Facebook event page.
Anti-Valentine party at Sanat Performance
Yabangee is at it again, covering all of the alternative Valentine's Day celebration options this year with an "Anti-Valentine Party" that will take place on the evening of Friday, Feb. 14, at Sanat Performance, a spacious live music venue off of Nevizade Street in Beyoğlu. Doors will open at 9:30 p.m., and the party will begin with an hour or so of social anti-Valentine games to get you mingling. For those who choose to indulge, this will also be a "traffic light" party in which participants are encouraged to wear or carry colors signifying their relationship status. In other words, those who are "single" can wear green, yellow is for those who are unsure and means "maybe," while those who are "taken" can don red. There will also be groovy tunes playing with a live D.J. performance held throughout the night. Attendees must be aged 18 or older, and tickets are TL 30 per person or TL 50 for two. There is also an early bird option for two tickets for TL 40 if you purchase them by Feb. 11.
InterNations' Valentine's Day dinner
InterNations is the world's largest professional expat networking association with branches in cities all over the world, including in Turkey's Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya, Izmir and Bodrum. In addition to hosting monthly social get-togethers for expats, this members-only organization also has a number of special interest groups such as the Istanbul branch's "Istanbul Chill Out Group," which will be organizing a Valentine's dinner on Friday, Feb. 14, taking place in a trendy venue in Nişantaşı. The exact location will only be revealed to members who sign up to the event, of which there are already expats from at least 13 different countries going. Meanwhile, on Saturday, Feb. 15, InterNations will also be an Istanbul Oscar Night Party at the Le Meriden Hotel in Etiler and on the following week, there will be the InterNations Istanbul Asian Side Winter Party at Hood Rooftop, which is located on the terrace level of the DoubleTree by Hilton in Moda. Becoming a member of InterNations is easy, and there is even a free basic membership option. It is the ultimate organization for meeting expats around the world, and just to give an example, both of these weekend parties have participants signed up from 60 to 70 different countries.
Drink&Draw Istanbul in Cihangir
The first-ever Drink&Draw Istanbul event will be taking place on the evening of Valentine's Day on Friday, Feb. 14, and will be a unique way to celebrate this touching holiday. Taking place at the vegetarian restaurant No:19 Dining in Cihangir from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., participants will have the opportunity to let their creativity flow by spending the evening drawing together on a theme of love and art. The languages spoken will be English, French, Russian and Turkish, and all materials will be provided. Space is limited, and tickets are available on Biletino.
Istanbul Comedy Club grand opening
Don't miss the grand opening of Istanbul's new performing arts venue, pioneered by expats from Istanbul's stand-up comedy and improv communities. Holding their official opening this Saturday night, Feb. 15, the Istanbul Comedy Club, located on the top floor of Rasputin in Taksim, will be holding a variety show in English featuring several genres starting at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are TL 30 at the door.