Tips to have in Turkey

Istanbul Street Food Guide: the best locations!

Are you wondering where to try Istanbul Street Food ?

Here you will find everything about Istanbul street food and the best places to try it – tested and approved!

Istanbul Street Food Guide : best dishes

1. Midye Dolma: mussels with rice, cinnamon and lemon …

Midye dolma are mussels stuffed with rice, cinnamon, pine nuts, dill, mint, garlic and tomatoes. You can either buy the clams on the street or from the stalls. The residents of Istanbul tend to buy the mussels at restaurants and stalls who offer take away as they are well known for their freshness .  One shop I can highly recommend is Midyeci Ahmet in Besiktas.

Midyeci Ahmet: The shop is famous for its mussels and kokorec.

Other locations: Galata Bridge, Midye Dolma stalls. Kadikoy, has many shops with Midye Dolma. For example Mercan or Sargin Kokorec near the Haydarpasa train station.

Working hours: Mid morning early afternoon.We are usually closed in the evenings

2. Balik Ekmek You can buy from the ships at the Galata Bridge!

Balik (fish) Ekmek (bread) is a very simple sandwich made from  fried fish fillet, lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Balik Ekmek is a typical  food for locals who live near or around the Galata Bidge. You can eat it  in the restaurants, under the Galata Bridge,in the surrounding alleys or from the boats at  the south of the bridge.  I recommend you come in the latter afternoon hours.The small boats with their grills on board are actually a sight of their own in Istanbul.It is a good idea to have your money ready to pay directly on the boats as all their products sell quickly.

Location: on the ships on the south side of the Galata Bridge in Eminönü, south of the Galata Bridge, T1 tram station Eminönü.

Opening hours: Early morning / approx.  9 p.m.

3. Buy a Simit on a Bosporus ferry!

The simit is the Turkish pretzel. You can buy the little sesame rings at stalls  all over town. I ideally recommend to eat a Simit whilst sailing on a Bosporus ferry. Buy a Simit along with a glass of cay for breakfast and enjoy it with the wind on the top deck of the ferry.

Location: most of the ferries run between Eminönü (Galata Bridge), Kadiköy (Haydarpasa train station), Usküdar and Kabatas.

Working hours:  7:00 am / 9:00 pm

4. You can find Kokorec in Eminönü and Kadiköy!

Where many opinions clash and differ the most, is definitely Kokorec. What is it? You roll lamb giblets with intestines onto a kebab skewer and roasted together. You can order your Kokorec as bread or just with the meat. The specialty tastes a little bitter, is heavily spiced, oily and  crispy. Try Kokorec if you want to discover a new taste.

Kral Kokorec: Here  Kokorec is served on bread or loose on a plate. You can also order Midye Dolma from Kral.

Other locations: You will find many shops with Kokorec near the Haydarpasa train station and in Beyoglu. Midyeci Ahmet in Besiktas is also known for its Kokorec in Istanbul.

5. Lahmacun in Kadikoy

Lahmacun is sometimes called “the Turkish pizza”. The similarity is definitely there. You spread a thin flatbread that looks like a pizza with a ragout of minced meat, onions and tomatoes. You can find Lahmacun in many food stalls in Istanbul, Turkey and in their own restaurants.

Halil Lahmacun: The best Lahmacun in Istanbul!

Working hours:  11.30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (excluding public holidays)

Other locations: Lahmacun is found in many snackbars in Istanbul.

6. Misir: Sit in Gülhane Park with a corn on the cob!

Stalls with fresh corn on the cob are an integral part of the streetscape in Turkey. You get your corn with salt or spices, depending on your taste. The small, black spots on the cob should be like this. This is a hallmark of good quality in Turkey.

Gülhane Park: a stand with Misir is always at the entrance of Alemdar Cd. in the Gülhane Park.

Other locations: anywhere in Istanbul and especially close to sights and public transport.

7. In Istanbul you can also eat chestnuts in summer!

The stands with corn on the cob used to sell chestnuts in winter. Both are now available all year long.

Location: you’ll find chestnut stalls close to major attractions like Hagia Sophia and public transport.

Working hours: there are small stalls  selling chestnuts near Hagia Sophia until dark

8. Islak Hamburger: a soggy bun after a long night!

A red tram goes to Istiklal Caddesi, from Taksim Square.It passes shops that sell hamburgers.

Islak Hamburger (wet hamburgers) or Tükürük Köftesi (Spuck-Boulette) is the name of the typical street food in Istanbul after a night of partying. What is it? You put a juicy piece of beef inbetween 2 halves of the burger, cooked with milk, garlic,  mint and soak (drown) everything in tomato sauce.

Kizilkaya is the most famous Islak hamburger stand in Istanbul. There is a branch on Istiklal Caddesi and Bagdat Caddesi. The two hot spots of nightlife in Istanbul.

Locations: The really good Islak burger stalls can be found at the top of Istiklal Caddesi, near Taksim Square.

9.Turkish ice cream is also part of  street food in Istanbul:

Yes. Clearly! The Turkish ice cream “Dondurma” is part of visiting  Istanbul and of course part of the city’s street food. It is different from normal ice cream. First of all, ice cream in Turkey is made from milk, mastic and salep, and Turkish ice cream includes the ice cream seller’s show! Let yourself be surprised!

Locations: anywhere in the city center

10. Eat Kumpir near Ortakoy Mosque!

Kumpir is a very large, stuffed fried potato. The ideal place to have a kumpir is the area around the Ortaköy Mosque. Kumpir shops in Turkey like to call themselves “Ortaköy-Kumpir” or similar names with a reference to Ortaköy. A typical Kumpir includes cheese, butter, sucuk (sausage), cucumber, corn, lettuce and cut vegetables. You can buy them at stalls,restraurants or as  take away .

Location: In the streets near the Ortaköy Mosque. There are buses from the T1 terminus in Kabatas to the mosque.

Working hours:  late in the evening

11. Cig Köfte and Icli Köfte are some of my favorite dishes from Turkey!

You make the Original Cig Köfte from raw minced meat or in the vegetarian version with bulgur. For some years now it has only been allowed to sell vegetarian Cig Köfte. I myself prefer the vegetarian version better.

Orhan Usta is probably the most famous Cig Köfte seller in Istanbul. His stand is right at the Haseki Kapisi entrance of the Egyptian Bazaar. He sells Cig Köfte and Cig Köfte Dürüm. You might have a problem finding him,feel free to ask other salespeople they will help you with directions and do try to come before noon if possible as his product sells quickly.

Other locations: Stalls with Cig Köfte are far less represented in Istanbul than all other street food dishes. It is therefore difficult to find them and the sellers are always on the way. One place you will usually find what you are looking for is the entrances to the Egyptian Bazaar near the Galata Bridge. Otherwise there are Cig Köfte in many restaurants in Istanbul.

For Icli Köfte, you turn bulgur with minced meat and onions through the meat grinder, shape it into egg-shaped dumplings and deep-fry them. Some Icli Köfte contain grated walnuts instead of minced meat.

Sabirtasi: the restaurant in Beyoglu is famous for its Icli Köfte.

Other locations: Find Icli Köfte at the north end of Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoglu. You will definitely find a booth there.

12. Istanbul loves waffles! Proofs?

Istanbul is crazy about waffles! There are two pieces of evidence for this: Ortakoy and Kadikoy. There are various waffle restaurants where you can also find Kumpir in Ortaköy. On the Asian side in Kadikoy, there are dozens of waffle shops between Haydarpasa Train Station and Moda Park. The best are in the Moda Park area.In the small Moda Park you can plan in the tea gardens  breakfast or a glass of cay. Waffles are not a typical, old dish from Turkey, but Istanbul is crazy about them.

Ortaköy: everything to do with the Ortaköy Mosque with a perfect view of the Bosphorus Bridge.

Kadiköy: the small streets near the Haydarpasa train station are a street food hot spot and a good area for going out in the evening.

Moda Park: a small park with tea gardens at the exit of the Bosphorus. It is particularly popular for breakfast or for a glass of cay in the afternoon.

13. Tursu, Turks love pickled vegetables!

Turks add everything in! Everything, really everything! They love the dishes and even a drink that is made from pickled vegetables. This is Tursu, a drink with pickled vegetables. This specialty  is available as street food in Istanbul: Karisik Tursu, mixed pickles.

Locations: all year round you can find Tursu at a stand near the Galata Bridge, where the Balik Ekmek boats are anchored. In Kadiköy, Tursu can also be found in the narrow streets near the Haydarpasa train station. In winter you can find more stalls with Tursu.

14. Drinks you have to try in Istanbul!

The following drinks belong to Istanbul, some of which you can only find in Turkey. They are also an integral part of street food:

Ayran: is the typical yogurt drink from Turkey that you can find all over the country.

Cay: Turkish tea comes from the coast of the Black Sea  and is characterized by its special preparation.

Turkish mocha: the Ottomans brought coffee to Istanbul 500 years ago. Since then, it has been an integral part of the Turkish culture. In Kadikoy, many shops have small stalls on the streets with Turkish coffee.

Raki: the aniseed schnapps is not a popular  street product but more part of the national culture of Turkey.

Serbet: an Ottoman drink made from water, sugar, fruits and flowers.

Salep: a drink made from the tubers of orchids. You can find it in the tea equipment at Moda Park, especially in winter.

Salgam is a sour and spicy drink made from the juices of the red turnip that is lightly salted. You can also buy it in the supermarket. Sometimes it still contains pieces of fermented beets.

Boza is a slightly alcoholic, sweet and sparkling beer made from millet. In Turkey, people like to sprinkle cinnamon and some chickpeas on top. It tastes like a beer milkshake. The best boza is said to come from the Vefa Bozacasi in Istanbul.

15. Doner, Börek, Kebab and Pide: Try “Turkish classics” in Istanbul:

Doner, kebab is also a typical Turkish dish and of course also available in Istanbul. You will only be surprised that the typical Dürüm is not as popular a  street food in Turkey as it is in Germany.

Tarihi Karadeniz Pide and Döner: According to many mouths, the best place to have a kebab in Istanbul. I have no argument against this. The pide taste good too.

Other locations: go to a Esnaf Lokantsi, a workers’ bar in Istanbul. You will usually find a very large selection of home cooked Turkish dishes.

16. Esnaf Lokantasi: Try the food in the workers’ pubs in Istanbul!

Have you ever wondered where the ordinary Istanbul residents eat? With prices of 10 € for a normal dish in Sultanahmet, a majority of the people in Istanbul can not afford this. The answer to this is the Esnaf Lokantasi. The customers  have normal servings , they are usually Turkish customers, most of whom are workers. The restaurants offer a wide range of food at a very affordable price. Istanbulers go to the bars for breakfast, lunch or with the family in the evening.

Sahin Lokantasi in Beyoglu: A dozen different home cooked Turkish dishes  are on the menu every day in the family business, which has been run since 1967.

Özkonak Lokantasi in Beyoglu: 20 different Turkish dishes such as manti and köfte are on a menu that changes daily.

Selvi Restaurant has been a family business since 1950 in the Beyoglu district. Unlike all the other restaurants on my list, it is self-service.

Ciya Sofrasi in Kadiköy is definitely the most famous eatery of its kind in Istanbul. Here students, workers and tourists eat until they drop for a bargain price.

Other locations: there are Esnak Lokantasi in all parts of Istanbul. For example, take a walk in the side streets near the Halic subway station near the Galata Bridge or simply search on   Google.

Have fun with my street food guide during your trip to Istanbul! It takes more than a week to get through it all!

Write to me about your eating experiences  in Istanbul. I’m curious.