Refik opened in 1954 and is owned by Refik Arslan. It is one of the most famous meyhaneler in town (and you should visit at least one while in Istanbul), offering the classic combination of meze and raki. It has long attracted a loyal following among Istanbul’s political intellectuals and is apparently full of lefties, the kind of people who know how to talk. Unfortunately, ignorance of Turkish may leave you oblivious to their incisive comments on dialectic materialism and the relationship between Kemalism and Socialism. Nevertheless, when you dine here you’re dropping in on a real local scene, especially in winter, when you’re con- fined to the simple but smart interior, decorated with myriad photos, and everything feels intimate and convivial. In summer, Refik’s tables join the general, lively eating free-for-all that has now colonised the entirety of Sofyali Sokak, a state of affairs for which Refik’s popularity has been largely responsible. If you want to try the meze dishes in Refik (or any of its surrounding restaurants) just select them by pointing at them in glass-fronted fridges. So at least the language barrier won’t get in the way of your stomach.