Meyhane & Mezze culture is second to none in Istanbul. It is all about “sharing”, share the mezzes, share the drinks and share the conversation.
Nevizade area is the historical address of the Meyhanes in Taksim area. There are quite a few places that look similar and serve similar food. After trying a couple of them, my personal favorite turned out to be Lipsos.
Lipsos is one of the few places that stands cool and waits for the regulars.
Lipsos has two floors, the entrance floor serves a la carte and the upper floor has a fixed menu with live music. A trio with Darbuka, Violin and Clarinet sings classical Turkish songs with the crowd and after the dinner the area turns into a dance floor. I am not a fan of this scene and prefer to eat on the entrance floor but it would probably be worth a try once in a lifetime.
As starters, fish mezzes are my favorite. I would strongly suggest “Tarama” (salted fish roe), sour marinated sea bass and pickled tunny. And as for the hot starters, Lipsos has been chosen as one of the top 10 calamari makers in Turkey. So, you can have grilled or fried calamari. Also, fried liver and lamb in the casserole are exceptional choices other than seafood options.
Recently I took a friend from NY, he still says the food in Lipsos was the highlight of his Turkey trip.