In praise of the Dive Bar

Maybe because Agent L comes from Baltimore, where there was a dive on almost every corner, and which is home to Plato’s dive bar, the Mt. Royal Tavern, she has a fondness for dark, dirty holes to drink in. In fact, despite having been the kind of child who was comfortable handling multiple kinds of forks at roughly the age of 5, she is incredibly uncomfortable in swank bars.

Once I had a roommate who was very fancy, (pshhh. New money.) who dragged me out to some kind of hotel terrace top bar in Boyoğlu. The roommate spent an hour and a hlaf getting dressed in approximately half a meter of fabric, and sniffed at my red shoes, which I thought were a rather whimsical touch.

“You have not black heels? Oh well, they’ll let us in anyway because they know me.”

Oh boy, I thought. I’m in for a good time.

It was the kind of place where you could reserve the best tables for 1500 TL excluding food and drink, and was just swarming with refugees from the height of Eurotrash fashion. Glasses of wine started at 24 TL, but that didn’t faze my companions because they had the remarkable, frankly crime-against-grapes ability to nurse a glass of white for over two hours. (Why?! Why?!) We did nothing for three hours but sit, uncomfortably squished by men with alarmingly highly polished shoes, sipping our warm wine and occasionally taking photos. I thought I was holding up well, but when the photos were posted on facebook later I looked miserably deer-in-headlightsy.

No thank you. I do not like a fancy bar.

I like a place to belly up to the bar in the dark, and over a not-too-loud soundtrack of not-crappy music, chat with my pals and relax at the end of a long day. In the summer I like to sit outside. I like it when the staff is nice, and remembers you, and occasionally lets you tab it. At the age of thirty-none-of-your-business, my days of seeing and being seen are over. Give me my creature comforts, please.

In that spirit- here are my two favorite dives in Kadiköy these days:

Igzas is tucked away on a quiet little street between Bar Street and Little Bar street. The seating is extremely limited. In winter it’s cold as shit, and smokey. But the staff there is unfailingly lovely, always greeting me and my gang by name and pouring our drinks before we sit down. The music is great- no Rhianna in earshot, just nice 70’s rock or Frank Sinatra, generally. In summer they open the big glass windows to let in the air, and they have two small tables on the pavement, which, FYI, I want, and since I told you about the bar I think it’s only decent you hand them over. Beer prices fluctuate wildly, but I’ve never paid more than 7TL for 50 cc’s of Bomanti, and I’ve paid as little as 5. If you’re hungry, they’ll be happy to bring you something to eat from their other bar, 15 meters away, Maside, and they have really great food.

Naturel [sic] Sam, on Antik Street is an unassuming place, but I cannot stress how lovely the waitress is. They have a wall of c.d.’s, which I find charmingly retro, and if you’re a child of the nineties as Agent L is, at least once during the night you’ll find yourself exclaiming, “Holy shit, is this (whatever band)?!?!?!!!! I used to LOVE this c.d. Goddamn, this reminds me of my boyfriend from college!” Beers are a little more expensive at 8.50 for a fifty of Bomanti, but there’s plenty of outdoor seating, it’s never crowded, and they have a limited selection of bar food.

Afiyet Olsen!

This entry was posted in Drinking, Eating, Ex-pat, Istanbul, Kadikoy, Turkey, Yabancı life. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to In praise of the Dive Bar

  1. I agree completely. My wife and I go to Maside precisely because we don’t want to be seen.

  2. Pingback: Summer Evenings in Kadiköy | agent L abroad

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