Best Cafés in Beyoğlu, Istanbul

The Ottoman Empire is where coffee and cafés came to be, so it’s hardly surprising that Istanbul should have a good supply of them.

Here are some places on and off İstiklal Caddesi to look for your caffeine fix:

Galatasaray Square

Of course there are several Starbucks outlets on İstiklal, including one just south of Galatasaray Square on the right more or less across from the big red-brick St Anthony of Padua Catholic church. Another is at İstiklal 223, just north of Tünel Square, a few doors north of the Swedish Consulate.

Far more congenial, in my estimation, is Urban, Kartal Sokak 6/A, a block southeast of Galatasaray Square, is a back street cafe-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.

To find it, go to Galatasaray Square, face the huge gates of the Galatasaray School, then turn left and walk up the first street on your right—very narrow. The street turns left, and Urban is a short way along on the left.

Hazzopulo Pasajı

Want a real down-to-earth traditional Turkish kiraathane (café)? Walk south from Galatasaray Square and turn right into the Hazzopulo Pasajı, marked by a sign. Pass along a line of shops and you come into a cobblestone-paved courtyard set with low stools and little tables at which you can sip Turkish tea and coffee. Not many tourists here.

Tünel Pasajı

In the evening, this narrow courtyard of a 19th-century building just opposite the entrance to the Tünel subway train off Tünel Square is a bar-and-restaurant scene, but during the day the most popular drinks are coffee, tea, sahlep, and other non-alcoholic brews.

Off the street, open-air, it’s a pleasant place for a pick-me-up and snack.

—by Tom Brosnahan


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