If you are looking for a completely authentic Turkish experience one needs to look no farther than the neighborhood ‘meyhane’. A meyhane is where Turks go to drink, typically raki, eat small plates of food called mezze and socialize. Meyhane’s can range from extremely high priced to very affordable depending on the quality and location.
Don’t let this restaurants basement location scare you away. Cukur is renowned for it’s delicious mezze enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. It’s located just off Istiklal making it a great place to start a Saturday night in Taksim. Information available here.
Mohti Laz Meyhane
Head over to the more upscale Laz meyhane in the Pera district and indulge in some homestyle Black Sea cuisine. If hamsi is in season and you are a lover of fish, do yourself a favor and order this Black Sea staple. Restaurant details available.
This barebones Beyoglu meyhane is perhaps better known for it’s nickname “the carwash meyhane” due to the fact it is located above a now closed car wash. This mayhane has a very local vibe and is run by brothers from Eastern Turkey. More details available here.
This is a very popular meyhane for locals and tourists alike. A favorable review in the New York Times probably helped! An upbeat environment and nightly live music make for an enjoyable evening with friends. Map available here.
Meze by Lemon Tree
Meze is the foodies meyhane hands down. The chef here is credited for making extremely inventive twists on standard Turkish fare. To view their menu look here.
Jash is a cute little establishment tucked away in Cihangir. It is known for serving Armenian and Turkish food. It’s also a place one can go to view original prints by political cartoonist Turhan Selçuk. Their website can provide more details.
This cozy restaurant housed in a historic building built in the 1800’s is always bustling, but its excellent wait staff keep up with the crowd. Sofyalı 9 keeps a focus on seasonal produce with its meze and its location in Galata couldn’t be better for tourists while still remaining popular with the locals.
Duble Meze Bar
If you are looking for an upmarket meze bar that also has an outstanding view of the Golden Horn, Duble Meze Bar is the place for you. The chef does a modern twist on classic Turkish and Ottoman meze. They also have an exceptional wine list. Did I mention the view?