The meyhane (or Turkish tavern) is not merely a type of restaurant, but a whole experience that involves a lot of conversation and one glass of rakı after the other. Of course, a table full of delicious meze varieties are also very important. So whether it’s heartbreak that needs to be mollified, or a certain joy that requires celebration, the Istanbul meyhane is the perfect place for a meal with close friends in a traditional atmosphere. We took on Istanbul’s most historic meyhanes, where the traditional rakı masası (rakı table) is set up every night.
Another classic meyhane in the Asmalımescit neighborhood, (therefore befittingly named ‘Asmalı Cavit’) the owner Cavit Bey has been serving up good food and a welcoming atmosphere for years. From the old movie posters on the walls to the constant rotation of meze dishes from the open kitchen, everything at Cavit is thoroughly nostalgic. Some of the notable dishes include topik (an Armenian dish made with chickpeas, currant, and tahini) and yaprak ciğeri (thinly sliced and seasoned liver).
Asmalımescit Sokak No.16/D Asmalımescit, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 212 292 49 50
Tarihi Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi
Established around the 1920s, Tarihi Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi (the historic republic tavern) is really a part of history, having once served dinner to the likes of Atatürk himself. As soon as you walk in, the framed newspaper clippings and photographs as well as the live fasıl (classic Turkish music) on the second floor will really get you in that perfect nostalgic mood as the delicious meze make their way to your table. Make sure to book in advance.
Sahne Sokak No. 27 İstiklal, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 212 293 19 77
Safa is truly a classic Turkish meyhane, complete with a chandelier hanging down from the wood-paneled ceiling, vintage Kulüp Rakı posters as decoration, and old paintings. One of the oldest taverns in Istanbul with more than 130 years to its name, the owners originally arrived from Albania and have continued to operate the restaurant one generation at a time. All the classic meze dishes such as paçanga böreği (pastry filled with melted cheese and cured beef) or pilaki (cold white bean dish with tomato sauce) are prepared to perfection, as well as mains such as grilled sea bass or lamb chops.
İlyasbey Caddesi No. 121 Zeytinburnu, Istanbul, Turkey, +90 212 585 55 94
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