There are plenty of things to do in Istanbul. From bargaining at the Grand Bazaar to indulging in a hammam, the opportunities abound. However, one that often gets overlooked is heading to the meyhane, Istanbul’s take on the tapas bar and haven where the raki flows, the traditional folk music (rasil) is performed, mezes are consumed and the mood is vibrant.
With a history dating back to the Byzantine Empire, today the meyhane are a place where locals and tourists visit to be social, engage in song and dance, and, of course, have a drink or two. Many restaurants are dotted in the city that offer this, however the largest concentration is located in the Flower Passage, Çiçek Pasajı. One of the oldest meyhane spots in town, Krependeki Imroz, founded in 1941, is very popular. Nearby is Boncuk, which specializes in Armenian food. Another old one, Refik, is known for its selection of fresh fish, straight from the Black Sea. Located in Galata is Galata Meyhansei, one of the only spots in town that features performances during the week. For a more rowdy night, head to Feraye Meyhanesi.