Beyoğlu may get all the hype when people talk about Istanbul’s bar scene, but Kadıköy has been not-so-subtly hiding the city’s real nightlife. This Asian-side neighborhood doesn’t get inundated with tourists at night like it’s neighbor—so here you’ll get to see the locals’ choices for some of the city’s best spots—not only its typical bar crowd, but also its craft beer enthusiasts and music junkies. For Istanbullus and expats alike, let’s look at Kadıköy’s best nighttime diversions.
A long-standing local favorite, expats are starting to come in droves now as well, as this bar sits in the middle of Kadıköy’s Barlar Sokağı or Bar Street. It’s famous for its extensive backyard which is open all year round (heated in the winter). It’s a great place to grab a beer and relax on the comfortable couches during the day, and after 11pm they host local and international DJs, as well as the occasional indie band for those with more eclectic tastes.
If the bar scene isn’t your style, but you still enjoy that glass of wine at dinner or want to keep date night classy, then Viktor Levi, in Moda, is your ideal spot. This historic restaurant has been in operation for over 100 years and you can feel it in the ambience when you sit down. The real highlight, though, is the house wine. There are over 12 types of white, red, and rosé wine coming from their personal cellar. Or, choose from the rest of their full bar menu if wine isn’t on the cards for the night.
When you want your drink to come with a view, head here. Built along the Bosporus, this is the ideal place to catch the sunset over the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, while sipping on that cocktail. After you finish your drink you’ll want to stay for the eccentric performances and live music which will keep you going until 4am on weekends. This is the place to be if you are looking for that fancy night out on the town.
If fancy isn’t in your vocabulary then go here, a favorite—because of the dive bar atmosphere and affordable, yet quality drinks. Located in a converted traditional Ottoman mansion next door to Arkaoda on Barlar Sokağı, you can sit in the back, by the fireplace if you’re feeling contemplative. Or, you can go upstairs to the three other levels where your group can mingle or feel like you have the place to yourselves. However, Karga isn’t just for the solitary, as it routinely plays music from downtempo to house, with some live acts thrown in to contrast with that old-time vibe.
You should already know how good this place is. With an 18-page drink menu and four locations in Kadıköy you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bar with more options. All of them do a good job of setting an atmosphere that is perfect for enjoying a few drinks and pub fare with your friends. Make sure you come on a Friday or Saturday if you want to taste the local microbrews, but don’t fret if you’ve missed them, because the cocktail list will always be there for you.
A less gaudy club when compared to 360 East, Monks is a lounge bar by day and nightclub by, well, night. This is downtown Kadıköy’s only real club where you can let loose. It definitely looks the part, with its fenced-in DJ booth and its ever packed dance floor. Head up the stairs and dance in the converted lounge with your friends. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can head into the black-lit back room to rip shots and dance till the sun comes up.