ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News

The concert season has begun with the arrival of summer in Istanbul. There are many concerts, festivals and other activities organized in the city until late September and daily Hürriyet's jury decided to find the best places to stop by before shindigs start, or in other words, venues to have drinks or to meet friends. Of course the key here is proximity to concert halls, open-air theaters or gardens and the quality of service. Check out the top 10 pre-concert venues in the city.


Just a few steps to the concert hall
One can find samples of Turkish cuisine at the restaurant located under the Lütfi Kırdar Congress Center in Harbiye. Have dinner and drinks in front of a breathtaking Bosporus view while waiting for the concert to start. Tea and coffee is served too. We suggest making reservations well before concert days. Open every day from 12:00 p.m. to midnight. Phone: 0212 232 4201


In a rush? Get a take away
In close proximity to the Kuruçeşme Arena, a coffee house on the shores of the Bosporus. Salads and hot sandwiches are served before concerts. If in a rush they'll have a take away order ready in the shortest time. Try world brand wines, classic cocktails and house specialty cocktails prepared with fresh spices and fragrances. Open every day from 9:00 a.m. -1:00 a.m., except Mondays. Phone: 0212 265 4734


Rich menu
Located in Asmalımescid, the venue is a meeting point before and after concerts. From appetizers to main dishes, Babylon Lounge offers a very rich menu. Pizzas especially are the favorite. Cocktails are served in pitchers and there are hot drinks to try. Varieties of music magazines are available for music fans. Open everyday 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. Kitchen is open until 11:00 p.m. The branch in Istanbul closes on Saturday June 21 and moves to Alaçatı, İzmir, for the summer. Phone: 0212 245 3800


Famous for its house specialty: Helva
One will love meatballs here even if one is not fond of meat. The three-storey restaurant offers a fixed menu of meatballs, green salad, piyaz (bean salad) and semolina helva as dessert. With five-star quality service, the venue is mostly preferred by concert goers at the Aya İrini (St. Irene). Open 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. Phone: 0212 513 6468.


Run across artists here
It is one of the best places to have a panoramic view of Istanbul, stretching from the Marmara Sea, to Kadıköy on the Anatolian side, the Prince's Islands, the Sultanahmet Mosque and the Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia). Armada has restaurant and bar sections. Meat and fish menus are available. Artists from theaters, music and jazz festivals organized by the Istanbul Culture and Art Foundation, or IKSV, relax here after activities. Make reservations especially on weekends. Open until 1:00 a.m. Phone: 0212 455 4455


Rich in wine and beer choices
Walking distance from the Lütfi Kırdar Congress Center and the Cemil Topuzlu Stage the originally two-storey venue has opened a third floor. The menu consists of dishes from the Mediterranean kitchen. Pizza, meat and chicken are favorites. Zazie has a rich choice of wine and beers. Fresh fruit juices and lemonade are also available. Open 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 midnight Fridays-Saturdays and 11:00 p.m. weekdays. Phone: 0212 231 8781.


Vegetarians love the place
This four-storey restaurant in Sultanahmet is an ideal meeting point given its menu and environment. Have dinner on the terrace with a view of the Marmara Sea, the Aya Sofya Museum and Sultanahmet Square. The menu provides rich alternatives to vegetarians. Make reservations for the terrace. Open 12:00 noon everyday until 12:00 midnight. Kitchen is open until 10:30 p.m. Phone: 0212 513 7308


For people who enjoy a fireplace
The venue in Asmalımescit is a restaurant with a fireplace. The décor, waiters and waitresses and service are different here. It is located on the same street as the concert hall Babylon. A favorite place for meat lovers Peymane is famous for its “durum,” lamb chops and “madalyon beyti” as much as salads. Make reservations. Open 12:00 noon – 01:00 a.m. Phone: 0212 293 3136


A meter long hot dog
Balans Brau located under the concert venue Balans serves pizza, salad, French fries and half a meter or meter long hot dogs. Home-made beer is also available in addition to whiskey, fruit juices and soda. The coffee menu is worth checking. Opens at 3:00 p.m. every day until 2:00 a.m. weekdays and 5:00 a.m. weekends. Phone: 0212 293 5690


A place to enjoy silence
Aya İrini is one of the most famous concert halls in Istanbul. With its historic and mystical atmosphere the venue is preferred for classical music concerts. The lounge outside reflects the calm one feels in the garden of Topkapı Palace, an ideal spot to enjoy the atmosphere and hot drinks. Sometimes organizers have cocktails at the lounge.