The area surrounding Taksim square, and especially the side and back streets of İstiklal Caddesi, the pedestrian street with the red tram, are filled with great places for food, really far too many of them to even count...

Not so many taverns (those are to be found closer to Galatasaray - see post here >>>) and Tünel (see post here >>>), however lots of cafes and restaurants, some also serving wine and beer. All of them serve good food in a nice ambiance. I have seldom been disappointed, so I cannot really single just a few out of the crowd and make special recommendations.

You do need to be aware that Taksim and İstiklal are very crowded throughout the day and especially in the evenings, weeknights included. (Local consumer reports put the number of unique visitors to the avenue at somewhere between 2.5 and 3 million over the course of any given weekend of the year). In recent years the area has also become very popular with visitors from all over the globe, so they too will be adding to the local crowds during the summer months. 

View Taksim food places in a larger map

Istikal Caddesi is almost 2 kilometers long, with very narrow blocks, so there are lots of side streets going in both directions. Almost all of them are lined with cafes, I just took a couple of random shots to give you an idea of what you will find.

Kurabiye Sokak (Cookie Street in Turkish) is a particularly pleasant (and relatively quiet) back street running parallel to İstiklal on which you will find a number of restaurants, including one or two which are vegetarian. Zencefil, which is semi-vegetarian, is one of the nicest on the block.

Eating at the side street cafes will cost between 8 and 20 Euros for a meal with soft drinks, wine/beer will add to the bill. The restaurants on Kurabiye Sokak may be a bit more expensive, so for those you should calculate up to 25 Euros for a meal, and again add to that for wine and beer.

Two self-service restaurants directly on İstiklal Caddesi are worthy of an extra mention: Afacan Restaurant and Borsa Lokantası both serve Istanbul cuisine all day long. While the ambiance may not be terribly inspiring, the quality of the food, as well as the low prices will probably make up for this lack, especially if you are looking for a fast, filling meal, which with soft drinks will cost between 7 and 12 Euros at either one.

Hacı Baba, (separate post is here >>>) on İstiklal, on the left side of the avenue as you enter from Taksim, is a very well known, almost 100 year old tavern especially renowned for its very good food, which is typical Istanbul cuisine, and not only for the meze but also the main courses. Hacibaba is in just about every Istanbul guide book, and deservedly so. The result is however, that you will always see more visitors than local folk when you are there. A full meal, with raki or wine will cost from 45 to 60 Euros - but money well spent!

Not exactly food, but nonetheless something to watch out for on İstiklal Caddesi is the Rebul pharmacy: This place is renowned for lavender water (which is indigenous to Asia Minor) and all sorts of other body products which may make for some very cool gifts at relatively low cost.

And finally, no post on food places near Taksim would be complete without a mention of Hacı Abdullah Restaurant, for which there is a separate post here >>>.

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