Istanbul Dining, Bars and Pubs
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Discover places to eat, local hot spots, bars and pubs in Istanbul, Turkey.
A new trend in Turkey, vegetarianism has had a slow beginning but there has been some progress. Nuh'un Ambari, Nature and Peace, Badehane, and Zencefil in Beyoglu are just a few of the hot spots for herbivores on the European side. Also try Hercai whilst in Kadiköy on the Asian side.
Europeans and Asians alike seem to love to feast on the streets, buying delicious snacks from vendors wheeling carts. Istanbul is no different: a midnight snack could include stuffed mussels (midye dolma), a fried mussel sandwich, meatballs made with barley (icli köfte), or even raw meat (cig köfte). Gözleme (filled pancake) is a favorite lunch-time snack, along with baked potatoes filled with anything you want (kumpir), and even plain old chicken and rice. Breakfast could consist of simit (bread rings with sesame seeds), pogaca (cheese- or potato-filled pastry), catal (a cracker-like snack), or a variety of sweets dripping with syrup, honey, and/or rosewater.
A nasty side effect of the rapidly changing cityscape is that drinking dens come and go with frustrating frequency, and the bar you were at last night may not be there tomorrow; but fear not, as it's not hard to find a new one!
More famous for its historical sites and pushy salesmen, Sultanahmet has a few good cafés where you can sit and write your postcards home. Spend some time at the Rumeli Café for excellent people-watching. Try Cheers for cheap beer or Sultan Pub for terrace seating.
The café-bar scene changes faster than most people can blink. "Here today, gone tomorrow" seems to be the motto. However, there are a few hangers-on like Dulcinea, Madrid, Pia, Kaktüs Cafe, and Kemanci. The distinction between "café" and "bar" has become very blurred recently and most places do a combination of both. Cafés include Yagmur Cybercafé, Lounge, Café Frappé, Kafe Cute, (a popular gay hangout), and 35mm (located in the Fitas Cinema complex). The best nightclubs -- all thumping out techno until the wee hours -- are Switch, Milk, Taxim She, and Orange. Live music venues Roxy and Babylon are the hottest hits in town at the moment. Bar Bahçe and Neo are excellent gay bars, while the best gay clubs are Prive and Club 14. Some of the finest wine bars in the world have popped up recently: check out Pano Wine Bar, Sarabi Wine Bar, Vareli, or Sappho.
Less manic than Beyoglu, Kadiköy has its own style of nightlife. Rock bar Karga fills up fast with students, and the Belfast Pub and Shaft do live music. If it's coffee you're after, Café Antre is mellow and female-friendly and Mosquito Café is fun.
Other Notable Watering Holes
The Wall in Ortaköy fills fast with leather-clad rockers and boppers, and another great option is the up-market Coco Pazzo in Arnavutköy.
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