Where to Drink Turkish Raki & Eat Mezes?
Best Meyhane Restaurants in Istanbul. Places to Drink Raki and Eat Turkish Mezes
Istanbul is not famous for its meyhanes only today. It was famous for meyhane culture in the Ottoman era too. Considering 1 of 3 people in the Ottoman Empire was a non-Muslim and the Ottoman Empire was a multi-national state, we can call meyhane as a place where people from different nationalities meet and spend good time.
As the Jews, Greek and Turks live together in neighborhoods like Cibali, Fener and Balat, these neighborhoods reflect the cosmopolite nature of Istanbul the best way possible and also famous for their meyhanes.
The meyhane culture that began in the Ottoman Empire is still alive today and people are able to get rid of the difficulties and problems in their lives by drinking raki at meyhanes. So, where are the best Meyhane Restaurants in Istanbul? How can one find a good one on the European or Asian side? I hope this post will help you answer these questions.
Best Meyhane Restaurants in Istanbul European Side
Latife Hanim Meyhanesi – Beyoglu
Latife Hanim Meyhanesi is located in Beyoglu and it stands out with its cool design. The walls of the place are decorated with the portraits of important Turkish women who lived in the early days of Turkish Republic and Classical Turkish Music is played for its customers.
In this meyhane, you can find special delicacies of traditional Turkish and Cyprus kitchen such as stuffed squash blossoms, grilled halloumi, fish salad and grilled fish intestines.
Latife Hanim Meyhanesi in Beyoglu Istanbul
O Maestros Meyhanesi – Arnavutkoy
If you wish to go to a historical Greek meyhane (Greek Taverna), you should definitely try O Maestros Meyhane in Arnavutkoy. You can taste a lot of amazing cold starters like smoked mackerel, Greek salad, and crab leg salad at O Maestros Meyhane.
Additionally, you can also try calamari plate served with special sauce, fried cabbage and fresh fish choices in this historical Greek meyhane. You can dine and enjoy your drink while you listen to classical Greek music and enjoy the Bosphorus view.
O Maestros Meyhanesi at Arnavutkoy Bosphorus/Istanbul
Ege Rum Meyhanesi – Galata
Ege Rum Meyhanesi serves on the terrace floor of Galata Apart Hotel which used to be a 200 years old Levantine building. Ege Rum Meyhanesi is a Greek meyhane which has a shabby setting.
At times when fish is scarce, chicken or sujuk is also served at Ege Rum Meyhanesi in addition to seasonal cold starters. Some of the starters in the menu are Armenian pilaki (cold white beans garnished with lemon and parsley), topik (a dish made of chickpeas, onion currants, cumin, and tahini) and stuffed mussels.
If you are not fond of raki, you can also try specially produced wine from Sirince that is labeled as “Ege Rum Meyhanesi”.
More Reading: Things to do in Galata Neighborhood
Despina Meyhanesi – Kurtulus
Despina Meyhanesi is located at Kurtulus Son Durak (known formerly as Tatavla) and it was opened by a lady named Madame Despina, who lived in the neighborhood, in 1946.
You can try Madame Despina’s specialties like liver and roasted meat in Despina Meyhanesi’s garden under the grape leaves in the summer time. You can also enjoy special starters in this historical meyhane.
Akin Balik – Karakoy
Akin Balik started as shabbily designed meyhane that serves delicious fish. And it still keeps its shabby identity although it has a more modern style today. Akin Balik is located in Karakoy and it offers a nice Halic view to its customers.
More Reading: Things to do in Karakoy Neighborhood
The Best Place to Eat Turkish Meze & Drink Raki in Istanbul
Tarihi Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi – Beyoglu
Tarihi Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi is a famous Istanbul meyhane where you can feel the meyhane culture deeply thanks to the live music, numerous starters, and fresh fish it offers.
The best choice as starters at Tarihi Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi are rolled grape leaves, mussel pilaki, deep fried phyllo pastry with pastrami and tomato filling, roasted meat garnished with mushroom and sheep cheese.
You can watch live fasil at Tarihi Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi and enjoy the meyhane culture thoroughly.
“Cumhuriyet Meyhanesi” Traditional Turkish Meyhane in Beyoglu
Asmali Cavit – Istiklal Avenue Asmalimescit
Asmali Cavit is one of the best choices where you can see theater and other posters on its walls and enjoy its delicious starters.
Sautéed haddock, roasted garden orach, spicy starters, and intestines on bricks are the most favorite starters and warm starters of its customers. If you don’t like fish, you can try meatballs as your main course.
More Reading: Things to do in Istiklal Street
One of the best Meyhane Restaurants in Istiklal Street (Taksim)
Ney’le Mey’le – Istiklal Avenue Nevizade
Ney’le Mey’le is named after Neyzen Tevfik, a famous Turkish poet, by another famous Turkish poet Can Yucel. Ney’le Mey’le is one of the oldest meyhanes at Nevizade. You can try different types of special starters such as sakriye, asparagus, topik or basil haddock at Ney’le Mey’le.
Ney’le Mey’le Meyhane Restaurant – Istiklal Street, Beyoglu
Eleos Restaurant – Beyoglu
Eleos has two branches (Yesilkoy and Beyoglu) and it makes you feel like in the Aegean region with its blue covers on its tables and every other detail.
Eleos Restaurant has been numerously awarded as ‘the best meyhane in Istanbul’, ‘the best fish restaurant’ and ‘the best Greek meyhane in Istanbul’ with its elegant presentation of the starters and many other delicious choices.
If you love eating fish, you should definitely try Eleos Restaurant. Eleos Restaurant follows the motto “White Meyhane” and it’s been really successful at it.
Artichoke heart, hummus, reddish shell bean pilaki, calamari salad are classical choices and they are prepared specially at Eleos Restaurant. You can enjoy your meal and drinks on its colorful wood tables in its shabby setting.
More Reading: Istanbul Beyoglu Things to do
Best Meyhane Restaurants in Istanbul With Bosphorus View
Yakup 2 – Istiklal Avenue Asmalimescit
Yakup 2 started serving its customers with its motto “Cheers to Life” at Asmalimescit (Beyoglu).
The main reason why Yakup 2 is one of the best meyhane restaurants in Istanbul is that it continued practicing the classical features of meyhane culture from Greek and Armenian masters and it passes it on from generation to generation.
Yakup 2 has worked with the same chef for the last 33 years in order to keep the standards in the taste of their food. You can enjoy your food and drinks in Yakup 2’s garden under olive and cherry trees.
Cold starters such as dry pea, tabbouleh, and taramasalata, warm herbs served with yogurt and eggplant with warm sauce are definitely worth trying. In addition to fish, you can also try roasted lamb and rib.
Agora Meyhanesi 1890 – Balat (Golden Horn)
Agora Meyhanesi is so famous that there are many songs that mention this meyhane. Agora Meyhanesi still serves in the heart of Balat neighborhood. Balat neighborhood is gaining its old fame and glory thanks to its historical features, colorful houses, and many TV series that are set in Balat.
You can reach Agora Meyhanesi both from Balat’s famous Cifit Carisi and Halic (Golden Horn) coast road. Agora Meyhanesi is one of the pioneers of raki and meyhane culture in Istanbul and it’s definitely one of the best meyhanes to be added to the list.
But be advised that there are two Agora Meyhanesi if you go to Balat! One of them is called “Balat Agora Meyhanesi” while the other one is called “Agora Meyhanesi 1890”.
As you can infer from its name, Agora Meyhanesi 1890 is famous for its history. However, the other meyhane has also high foursquare and zomato points. Therefore, it’s worth trying both of them.
More Reading: Fener Balat Walking Tour Route
Historical Meyhane Restaurant in Istanbul Balat (Golden Horn)
Meyhane Restaurants in Istanbul Asian Side
Gunes’in Sofrasi – Kadikoy
Gunes’in Sofrasi is neighbor to Nazim Hikmet Culture Center’s garden and it serves both in its garden and the second floor of its historical building.
Specialties at Gunes’in Sofrasi are Gunes pastry, stuffed calamari, grilled bass in grape leaves.
As for the cold starters, there are many options to choose from such as starters made of herbs, eggplant on coal fire, muhammara, and squid salad. You can drink wine in addition to raki at Gunes’in Sofrasi and enjoy the historical atmosphere of this meyhane.
The Best Meyhane Restaurants in Istanbul Asian Side
Piraye Tas Plak – Kadikoy
Piraye Tas Plak is located in a quiet and peaceful point among Kadikoy’s busy streets and music from its gramophone can be heard as its name suggests.
You can try delicious Aegean and Greek starters in its wide garden under the grape leaves, cold starters made of fish or other choices such as brain and boiled tongue served cold. Piraye Tas Plak also offers beef, fish and chicken options as the main course. Additionally, you can try specialties like roasted meat in Crete style and intestines in a stewpan.
Undoubtedly, Piraye Tas Plak is one of the best meyhanes worth visiting on the Istanbul Asian Side.
Best Greek Taverns and Turkish Meyhanes in Istanbul
Samatyali Moda Meyhanesi – Moda
Samatyali Moda Meyhanesi is at the beginning of Moda Street and it’s away from the noise of Kadikoy Market. The meyhane opened another branch in Samatya after Bostanci following “A Samatyaian at Moda”.
You can try liver and roasted lamb alongside raki. You can’t find fish and seafood at Samatyali Moda Meyhanesi, but you have Kulup Raki option that you can’t find anywhere else.
The walls of the meyhane are covered with images from the old Turkish cinema and the interior of Samatyali Moda Meyhanesi is decorated with old chests and raki bottles. You can also listen to live Classical Turkish Music on weekends.
More Reading: Things to do in Kadikoy
Inciralti Beylerbeyi – Uskudar
Inciralti Meyhanesi is successful at keeping the old meyhane culture thanks to its delicious meze and it’s located in Istanbul’s one of the most beautiful neighborhoods, Beylerbeyi. You can enjoy your food and drink under a 70-year-old fig tree in the winter garden decorated with old Istanbul photos.
In addition to cold starters like stuffed cabbage leaves with mussel, tzatziki made of sea beans, lamb neck and brain, and mackerel that you can find only at Inciralti Meyhanesi, you can also try specialties like lamb kebab, Inciralti meatballs, artichoke heart with meat too.
Also, don’t forget to try Turkish coffee served with halva alongside melted bitter chocolate.
Where to Drink Raki and Eat Turkish Mezes in Istanbul?
Cunda Balik – Bostanci
Cunda Balik brings Ayvalik’s beautiful Cunda Island to Istanbul and it has served its customers since 2003. You can find every special delicacy of Aegean and Cunda kitchen such as Aegean herbs and goat cheese at Cunda Balik.
Its menu brings 70 different starter choices and fresh fish brought from Ayvalik every day together and you can feel as if you were at a meyhane in Ayvalik.
Cunda Balik is one of the best Meyhane Restaurants in istanbul where you can taste Turkish Mezes and drink Raki.
Best Turkish Mezzes in Istanbul “Cunda Balik” Restaurant
Mythos Meyhane – Kadikoy
Mythos is located inside Haydarpasa Railway Station and it’s famous for its historical atmosphere as well as starters and it’s been in service since 2011.
The owner of Mythos took over the restaurant inside 110 years old Haydarpasa Railway Station where he brings warm and cold Greek and Aegean starters together in its own way.
Mas Haricot bean salad with pomegranate, Urla squid salad, Urla mashed feaves, basil pickled sardines, intestines with seafood, squid in oven with garnished with wine are some of the special delicacies you can find at Mythos.
In addition to fish options, the ingredients of other special dishes like Bodrum sliced steak served with fried potatoes, Aegean style farfara meatball are brought from Aegean Region.
Note: Urla is a small town located within Izmir city (West Coast Turkey)
Best Places to Eat Turkish Mezes and Drink Raki in Istanbul
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Best Meyhane Restaurants in Istanbul By Serhat Engul