Summer is in session, and now the perfect opportunity to explore the best of Istanbul’s night scene. Here are some of the Guide’s choices for where to head when the sun crosses the horizon this July.
The stress of the week is instantly drowned with the first sip of a cocktail at the rooftop restaurant Leb-i Derya. Paired with the view of the historical area awash in shimmering lights and the Bosphorus acting as a black mirror to the night, the beauty of Istanbul reflects itself silently. If you choose to take it easy, a solid wine list of whites, reds, and roses are available from France, Italy, New Zealand, Turkey, and Chile. A host of great cocktails are also available. Kumbaracı Yokuşu 57/6 Tünel, Beyoğlu; P: (0212) 243 9556
If you ever found yourself exclaiming, with a slight hint of terror, how crowded the city of Istanbul is, be sure that the nightlife is not spared in that regard. Kiki, an insanely fun Cihangir bar, follows this tradition. After a certain hour, after dinner drinks have come to a close, a natural progression toward Kiki is felt; the bar which is always filled to maximum capacity, or, one wonders, over-capacity. The notable red awning on top of the door denotes the destination, and while the initial hallway is usually empty, the crowd appears a few seconds later, squeezed into a space of disco ball lights bouncing off walls, with hands holding beer bottles and shaking dancing heads bopping about to the rhythm of the DJ created beat. Jokes are shared as if the Kiki crowd have been your best friends for years, while another row of strawberry margaritas make their way through the crowd and hopefully into your hand, because you really have to drink a little to enjoy this. Siraselviler Caddesi No:42; P: (0212) 243 53 73
Ducking into one of the side streets off the chaos that is Istiklal, you feel a natural descending progression, as if some magnet is pulling people down the street and toward its center. That center is Münferit. Shedding its restaurant persona for the late hours, the upstairs bar area is lit by the yellowish glow behind rows of alcohol bottles on the wall behind the bar. Tall girls with red lipstick press their bodies against the wooden bar, extending credit cards and smiles, pulling their drinks closer, and slowly swaying to the beat of another song. Münferit seems to be the new nightlife hotspot on the weekend with crowds filling up the upstairs bar and terrace area every minute after midnight. Downstairs, the dinner tables sit abandoned, while a line forms for the bathrooms in the corner, and audible conversation revolves around ideas for a new designer T-shirt line or how beautiful this city really is. Yeni Çarşı Caddesi No. 1; P: (0212) 252 50 67
Offering another escape is Ulus 29, with a Bosphorus Bridge view. The small getaway of a restaurant, bar, and club keeps a fantastic selection of food and wine on hand, while the noise of the city is mute and traffic is only a far away flicker of red on the beautiful expanse of the bridge. The Terrace Bar also has an outside area for those who prefer to have a smoke with their drink. Speaking of drinks, the cocktail menu is wholly varied. Drinks include the sweet disposition of a well mixed Amaretto Sour, the darker hues of a Ginseng Martini, the Summer mix of the Mango Mojito, and the subtle spice of the Wasabi Ice, among many other options classic and original. A. Adnan Saygun Caddesi Ulus Parkı İç; P: (0212) 358 29 29
Famous for its glass dancefloor and spectacularly unobstructed views of the city, Nuteras, located in Beyoğlu, is also a restaurant, with a menu that combines the international and Turkish cuisine. After a certain hour the tables begin to disappear, allowing for standing and dancing space, and the volume of the music begins to creep to high levels. This is the time when the first brave soul makes his or her way to the top of the glass dance floor to break the seal of immovability. The full bar offers whatever cocktail your mind might conjure, but the recommended Rose Mojito, made of white wine, red wine, Absolut vanilla, lime, and mint, is a worthy palatal endeavor. Meşrutiyet Caddesi No. 67/1; P: 212 245 60 70
If you find yourself in the the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) building, hop in an elevator to find another of Istanbul’s great night joints, X Restaurant and Bar. When the doors open, an almost hidden venue is revealed, where the lights are low to allow Istanbul’s night to enter and reflect off the alcohol bottles awaiting to be handled and tipped into glasses. The late hours at X Restaurant and Bar continue with a relaxing atmosphere that allow couples to fold their legs into one another and find shelter upon the swivel chairs by the bar. The balcony is also a step away with a large space to enjoy a liberating view, a cigarette, or the increasing temperatures of the summer season. IKSV Deniz Palas Sadi Konuralp Caddesi No: 5 P: (0212) 334 08 45
Finally, if you haven’t explored Mikla yet, you should. If you take a right from the restaurant entrance and continue to walk you will once again find yourself in a bar and beautiful view symposium, where soft lounge music not only allows but beckons conversation. Walk out to the balcony where, above the rooftops of residences, the rest of the city and its people traverse vociferously, while the water glides by undisturbed. The Marmara Pera, Meşrutiyet Caddesi 167/185 P: (0212) 293 56 56
With such a plethora of options at your disposal, it might be hard to decide which experience you’d like to invite into your life, but each is worth their weight in entertainment. Raise a glass in any of them and you won’t leave disappointed.