Here are some of our favorite meyhanes in Istanbul (in no particular order).

Safi Meyhane

New on the scene in the trendy Şişhane neighbourhood, Safi stands out for its revamped takes on traditional meze dishes. Among the tastiest items to try are the crunchy çıtır mantı (crispy Turkish-style ravioli) on a stick dipped in creamy yogurt sauce, and the kabak çiçeği dolması (zucchini flowers stuffed with rice and spices) that nearly melt in your mouth. Leave room for dessert because the unique tahini soufflé is outstanding.

Antiochia Concept
A tiny yet stylish spot in the heart of Beyoğlu’s nightlife scene, Antiochia offers fantastic fare from Turkey’s southernmost province, Antakya. The walls are lined with homemade olive oil and soaps, and the food is divine, with extraordinary Middle Eastern-influenced mezes such as muhammara and hummus, baba ghanoush and chopped salad. Make sure to order a main course to share, because the meat is brought in from Antakya and prepared to juicy perfection.

Jash Meynahe
Offering more than meets the eye, this meyhane is tucked away in the city’s popular Cihangir neighbourhood. With its vine-decorated entrance and cosy atmosphere, Jash serves traditional Armenian-style mezes and dinner, and is renowned for its authenticity. Among the highly recommended dishes is the topik, a chickpea and potato mash with onions, tahini and currants. A Saturday night at Jash comes complete with an accordion playing in the background.

Meze By Lemon Tree
Meze by Lemon Tree presents a refreshing twist on the meyhane concept, freeing diners from having to decide from a wide menu of standard choices. Chef-owner Gençay Üçok prepares the venue’s vegetable and seafood starters based on the season and what is available that day. While using basic ingredients true to Turkish cuisine, Meze is renowned for its experimental dishes such as sea bass served with almonds and apricots, or lamb sirloin with potatoes and red beets.

Soyfali 9
This classic meyhane in Asmalımescit takes visitors back to the old days. Traditional cold starters of roast aubergine spread, yogurt and dill dip, and sharp goats’ cheese are served with a hefty glass of rakı. Be sure to try the grilled octopus and the curried fish, which is pan seared and spiced just right. Known for its warm, friendly service, the restaurant stays relatively quiet, affording visitors a relaxed ambience in which to enjoy the excellent dishes.

Duble Meze
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.
Salkim Meyhanesi (hard to find)
Like any place with real character, this spot is better known by its nickname: “the carwash meyhane.” Located, naturally, above a now defunct carwash, this small, no-frills meyhane — more commonly referred to as “otoyıkamacının üstü” or “Erkal’ın Yeri” — is amicably run by a group of brothers who hail from eastern Turkey’s city of Van and who keep the place humming with a distinct sense of good cheer. A tiny kitchen in back, barely big enough to hold the one chef works inside it, turns out a constant stream of lip smacking pan-fried liver and grilled fish.

Cukur Meyhane
From the outside Çukur Meyhane is not much more than a hole in the wall, located on the basement floor of an apartment building and accessed via a small set of stairs, it nevertheless serves about 60 people per seating. Hidden away in the heart of the vibrant Beyoğlu restaurant scene this humble, slightly rundown little meyhane (Turkish tavern) is often raved about for its excellent food. Despite the small interior, a large part of the entrance is taken up by an over sized (and ornamental) beer barrel, whilst plates are piled high above the glass fronted chillers marking the compact, open kitchen corner.