Çiçek Pasajı at Night, Istanbul

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Flowers?

When the Çiçek Pasajı (Flower Passage) re-opened in the 1980s after restoration, it looked like this. The sleazy, atmospheric tavernas had been replaced by clean, tidy, tourist-friendly restaurants with wooden benches and tables.

The food‘s still good here, the service is better, but prices are higher and some of the fun is gone. It’s too sedate. Too much like other Istanbul restaurants.

In short, it’s too nice.

Sic transit squalor! Now those of us who recall the old Çiçek Pasajı with fondness patronize tavernas on nearby Nevizade Sokak, just a few steps along Sahne Sokak past the Üç Horan Ermeni Kilisesi (Armenian Church of the Three Altars).

The Nevizade places aren’t squalid either, but they preserve more of the old-time devil-may-care, what-the-hell, we’re-all-in-this-together Beyoğlu dining ambience.

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—by Tom Brosnahan


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