Food is a great deal of Turkey’s culture and of İstanbul’s also. Anywhere you go you can see food stalls, hundreds of bakeries, thousands of döner and kebab places. It’s unavoidable. You won’t be hungry while in İstanbul and you might even put on a few kilos. But don’t worry, it’s worth every bite.
We put together a list of the best local street foods in İstanbul, so you know exactly what you shouldn’t miss when in İstanbul.
Every day in İstanbul 1.5 million of Simit are consumed. Yes, you read it right: 1.5 million! This round freshly baked and sesame-crusted dough is the best way to start your morning. Best eaten while it’s still hot, you can find it in any bakery. Despite being not that big, you will see that after one you will be completely full and happy.
This is your chance to keep it healthy. You can find orange (portakal) and pomegranate (nar) juices all over the city. For a couple of liras you can get a cup full of freshly squeezed vitamins to keep you strong for the day. The same applies to fruit: you can easily find pineapple slices for 1 lira.
This simple snack: mussels on the shell stuffed with spiced rice and with some lemon juice on top, are one of the most appreciated street foods in İstanbul. İt’s common knowledge that, the best way to enjoy it, is close to the sea, one hand holding the Midye Dolma and the other a fresh beer.
This is probably one of the best things that the Bosphorus offers the city: Fresh Fish - from where you can make Balik Ekmek. The literal translation is “fish bread” but what you can taste is a fresh fish, full of flavor sandwich that will make your day brighter! Near Karaköy or Eminönü you can find dozens of sellers and in the Galata Bridge you can see every day the fisherman, fishing your lunch.
Freshly grilled corn often sprinkled with salt or spices. This popular snack is almost exclusively sold during the summer months by the street sellers with their push-cars.
The mythical Turkish dish that is known and appreciated all over the world. This tightly packed meat, roasted on a large vertical skewer is the basis for fast-food snacks (or even full meals). You can find this tasty dish, made of several meats and with many variations, pretty much all over the city.
This is the winter version of the “Misir”. Roasted chestnuts sold on the streets are a great way to warm up during the cold winter days.
Another one of the city’s favorites: a baked potato with all the toppings you might want or think of. Cheese, sauces, corn, mayonnaise salad, peas and carrots, the possibilities are endless when it comes to kumpir. The most famous place to have these is Ortaköy. Dozens of sellers will fight for your attention and to draw you to their stall.
This is one of the most controversial foods in Turkey. The description isn’t certainly the most appealing thing about this dish: spiced and skewered sheep’s intestines, served in a bread loaf with plenty of grease and salt. So now that we passed that part of “I am never going to try that”, we can tell you that this is truly delicious and for example, Şampiyon Kokoreç, one of the most popular kokoreç chains, cleans the meat properly and never disappoints.
Chicken rice is definitely a street food. Red carts all around Istanbul serve big, filling portions of this delicious meal. Above all it’s incredibly cheap and a crowd pleaser.