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The top five meyhanes in Istanbul


Visiting a meyhane is one of the most quintessential dining experiences Istanbul has to offer. Dalia Mortada recommends some of the city’s best classic and contemporary venues for tasting mezes (small plates) and drinking the Turkish spirit rakı¬

Sofyalı 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.

Sofyalı 9, Sofyalı Sokak 9, Asmalımescit/Beyoğlu, +90 (0)212 245 0362

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.

Meze by Lemon Tree, Meşrutiyet Caddesi 83B, Şişhane/Beyoğlu, +90 (0)212 252 8302

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.

Safi Meyhane, Meşrutiyet Caddesi 84, Şişhane/Beyoğlu, +90 (0)212 251 2696

Jash İstanbul
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.

Jash İstanbul, Cihangir Caddesi 9, Cihangir, +90 (0)212 244 3042

Antiochia
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.

Antiochia, Minare Sokak 21, Asmalımescit/Beyoğlu, +90 (0)212 292 1100

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