Ducking out of the craziness of Istiklal Avenue, I found myself on a peaceful street that leads behind Galatasaray High School. It was a rainy day and as I walked I looked out at small shops and homes from under my umbrella. Halfway down to Tophane, sitting on the street, is an unassuming cafe that could easily be missed.
The outside of Pas Cafe is sleek and simple but with an artsy eye-catching chalk board advertising a bit of their menu. Reading through the choices (herbal tea, fresh fruit juices, quiche of the day), everything sounded amazing and I knew I was in for a treat.
I shook off my umbrella and entered the warm and light-filled Pas Cafe. The inside of the cafe is narrow but has high ceilings and minimal furniture so it doesn’t seem cramped. The style of the cafe is very “new age industrial” with its black metal chairs and pipes on the ceiling that compliment the exposed brick wall. Minimalistic and tasteful motifs cover the walls to give the place a bit of funk. My favorite was the huge pair of glasses that catch your eye right when you walk in. The design of the space looked like something you’d encounter in the hip districts of New York.
The cafe’s menu is pretty small- which I actually prefer. They offer light lunch fare including a variety of interesting sandwiches and the quiche of the day. The sandwiches are internationally inspired and take you on a short trip around Turkey! There is an Aegean sandwich, a Mediterranean sandwich, and a Northern sandwich (that one looked especially good- with smoked salmon and capers). There are also two very unique items on the menu that come from the Balkans. The Lutenitsa and Princesa are both open faced meat sandwiches with a unique combination of spices.
As for myself and a friend, we got the Mediterranean sandwich and the Princesa. I really enjoyed the presentation of the food. The sandwich came wrapped in paper and was tied with a string, and both dishes were served on a wooden board. The cheese on the sandwich was super fresh and the delicious Princesa had a unique and slightly spicy taste.
The star of the menu is the drink selection however. They have a full list of coffees and some creative hot teas. The herbal teas come with fresh herbs and you pour the hot water over them to steep the tea yourself! The mint and thyme one I got looked like an underwater forest. That sounds weird, but I promise it’s appetizing! For the health freaks, this trendy cafe offers fresh fruit juices - of course. Freshly squeezed juice is common in Istanbul, but this is the first place I’ve found that serves such interesting combinations. The hulk (green apple, ginger, and orange) looks awesome.
The cafe is usually full of foreigners- especially travellers, but also could be a great spot to take your laptop and get some work done. As my friend and I sat back and sipped our tea, we enjoyed the funky-laid back atmosphere completed with the cafe’s fun soundtrack of everything from Elton John to the Beach Boys. If you’re in the neighborhood and need a break from the crowd, this hidden hip spot is for you!