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As Istanbul races toward assuming its role as a modern global city, timeless dining traditions passed down through the generations become all the more important to the city’s citizens and for preserving a sense of the past. And we can’t think of an Istanbul culinary tradition more worthy of being celebrated and maintained than a night out at a meyhane, Turkey’s version of the taverna. A full meyhane experience – with raki-drinking, an endless stream of meze offerings, celebrations with music and dance – can be praised in strict gastronomic terms, but we feel its real significance lies off the plate. These meyhane, humble or lavish, are a record of the city’s culinary history – but even more so, they offer a window into how traditions survive in contemporary Istanbul. This experience begins with a tour of Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district where meyhane culture has thrived for centuries. We’ll visit artisans who keep the meyhane meze trays supplied for a taste of traditional delicacies and meet the fishmongers, greengrocers and butchers who also serve the rollicking meyhanes of the area. In the backstreets of the neighborhood’s bustling fish market, we’ll see where meyhane culture first bloomed and what it has evolved into today. There will be a crash course in Turkish toasting over sips of raki, the anise-flavored spirit that flows freely in meyhanes. Finally we’ll sit down for a full evening meal in a classic neighborhood meyhane with live music, raising a glass and sharing an evening with the people who keep this truly local tradition alive.
What is included in the fee?
In addition to your Culinary Backstreets guide, all food consumed on the walk – almost a dozen different edible specialties – are included in the price.
Why is the Culinary Backstreet tour more expensive than some other walking tours?
Our approach is different than most tour companies. Each of our culinary walks is the outcome of considerable research. We work with academics in the field and our own team of experienced professionals – both guides and local journalists. Our ongoing publishing of articles, from restaurant reviews to features about the intersection of food and culture, constantly feeds new material into the culinary walks, so they evolve and constantly improve. Though costly, we believe that this is how to create the quality experiences we strive for.
We practice honest tourism and would never accept a free lunch or any sort of commission. On the contrary, we are proud to know that the money spent during the culinary walk goes to support businesses that we believe in, helping to preserve the social and cultural fabric of the cities we love so dearly.
How does the payment process work?
Once you have selected an available walk route or cooking class and date, you will be able to pay the fee or deposit for the walk by credit card.
Our credit card processor, Stripe, is certified to PCI Service Provider Level 1, the most stringent level of certification. None of your sensitive data ever hits Culinary Backstreets servers. It is all captured, processed, and housed on Stripes servers.
Our booking system, Bookeo, also meets both Daily PCI Security Scanning and Security Verified Requirements.
If you are registering for a walk that requires approval, your reservation request will need to be approved by an administrator before it is finalized. Once it is approved, you will receive an email directing you to pay your deposit and complete your booking.
What is your cancellation policy?
100% will be refunded if given one week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more.
Are your walks public or private? How many people are on them?
Our walks are 2-10 people and are open to the public. If you would like to do a private walk, we may be able to arrange one for an additional fee.
Please contact us at email@example.com for more information.
Can I get a discount if I join more than one walk?
Yes, we offer a 10% discount to those who join more than one walk. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to join multiple walks.
Are your walks suitable for people with food allergies?
This can vary based on a number of factors, including the food item in question. Please email us at email@example.com to discuss your situation before booking.
Are your walks suitable for vegetarians and pescetarians?
They meyhane activity is very suitable for vegeterians and pescetarians.
How physically demanding are the walks?
The Meyhane activity is probably the least physically demanding walk. There are a few stops with short walks, but it is more of a dinner activity.
Can children join the walks?
Of course, but please note that the Meyhane activity goes quite late and alcoholic beverages are served.
uring that time.
Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return, once the tour is over?
Our tour prices don’t include transportation. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own.
Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel.
Is it okay to photograph the food on the walk?
You are welcome to photograph during the walk – but please be respectful of the other guests and remember that this is meant to be a group activity, not a dedicated photo shoot.
Do you offer the Meyhane walk during Ramazan?
Yes, we do offer the Meyhane walk during Ramazan.
We took this tour on our first evening in Istanbul. Our guide Benoit was very knowledgable and took us to great places in Beyoglu (around Istaklesi) we would otherwise have missed. The food was really amazing (except perhaps the lamb brain…) and we had much fun. On first sight, the tour seems to be al little pricey, but all in all it’s well worth the money! Our next time in Istanbul we will do another of these tours! Read more
“Culinary walks led by locals in the know who have been able to develop close relationships with the traditional food-makers found along the walk’s route are one of the best and easiest ways to learn about a city’s authentic cuisine and also about how its culinary culture shaped its soul,” says Yigal Schleifer, co-founder of CulinaryBackstreets.com Read more