Since Ottoman times, Istanbul’s Beyoğlu (BEY-oh-loo) district has been the best place for a drink or an evening’s entertainment. Here are some suggestions for bars on and off İstiklal Caddesi to get you started:
Not far out of Taksim Square, Cadde-i Kebir is a half-block south of İstiklal Caddesi on İmam Adnan Sokak. The café-bar’s name is Turkish for Grande Rue (Big Street). Fairly sedate, it has a few sidewalk tables as well.
Urban, hidden away on Kartal Sokak at 6/A, a block southeast of Galatasaray Square, is a back street café-bar with cool stone walls (its back room was a cistern in Byzantine times) and cooler people: aesthetes reading European architectural and literary magazines or newspapers, couples drinking in one another with their eyes and whispering earnestly. The music is classical, the list of caffeine and alcoholic drinks long and varied; sandwiches, salads, omelets and simple meat plates.
Off Meşrutiyet Caddesi a few steps away is the Hazzopulo Meyhanesi, another revived 19th-century Ottoman-Greek taverna with similar offerings.
Sofyalı Sokak, a side street off Asmalımescit Sokak (which is off of İstiklal Caddesi) has several good, cool artists’ and actors’ café-bars including Refik Restaurantat Sofyalı Sokak 12.
The narrow courtyard of a 19th-century building just opposite the entrance to the Tünel subway train off Tünel Square is filled with café-bar-restaurants, the only exceptions being the Artrium art and antiques shop and the Kırmızı Kedi Kitabevi (Red Kitty Bookshop).