Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Aug 02, 2014 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

If you’re a foodie like me, you plan your travels around food. Ever since, well, forever, Turkey has captured my tastebuds. It’s a cross-cultural hodgepodge of food, since there have been so many political, historical, and cultural influences there. This sort of foodie fusion has led to some extraordinary eats! So, you’ve booked your flights to Turkey, arranged for your accommodations, are ready to explore... and you're hungry. What to eat first? Let’s see…

 

Best Street foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Flickr cc tomislav medak, adapted by Wandering Educators

 

Beverages

Tea! Called Çay, it is served hot all day long. It is black tea, served in small hourglass glasses, and people usually add quite a bit of sugar. My favorite is Turkish apple tea – it’s delicious!

Turkish apple tea. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Photo: Wandering Educators

 

Ayran – a salty yogurt drink

Ayran - a salty yogurt drink. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey
Wikimedia Commons: Mavigogun

 

Pomegranate juice (freshly squeezed!)

freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey
Wikimedia Commons: Jessica May H

 

Breads

Simit – like bagels, except larger! They are dipped in molasses and then rolled in sesame. Usually served for breakfast.

Simit. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: Istanbul 020

 

Pide  - a flatbread that is served like pizza. You can get it cheese, cheese and sausage, and other toppings

Pide. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: E4024

 

Lahmacun – Another sort of pizza – this is a thin Pide, but with all kinds of toppings on it, including ground meat, onions, spices, pepper, parsley, and pepper paste. You can top this with a fresh salad and squeeze a lemon over it

Lahmacun. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: Kenneth Jorgensen

 

Mains

Kebab – small pieces of broiled meat

Döner – meat packed onto a skewer and roasted

Doner kebab - From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: Matt @ PEK

 

çiğ köfte – raw meat, bulgur, onions, and dried red pepper, rolled into balls or patties (you won’t be able to find raw meat on the street – only in homes) – so on the street, it is served cooked (whew)

çiğ köfte. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: muratin

 

Içli Köfte – bulgur, meat, onions, parsley, and spices put into bulgur cases, and then fried

Içli Köfte.From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: Maderibeyza

 

Islak (Wet) Burgers – leftover doner meat, chopped and placed into buns; the entire thing is dipped into tomato sauce and steamed

 

Balik ekmek – grilled fish served in bread. Can be served casually, from a boat, or from more formal stands and outdoor cafes

Balik ekmek vendors. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: Jbpazard

Balik ekmek. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: haitham alfalah

 

Nohut durum – chickpeas, parsley, onions, and hot peppers wrapped in a pita

 

Börek/Gözleme – thin pastry, wrapped around delicious fillings (meat, veggies, cheese, potatoes, etc.)

Gözleme. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: Banu

 

Kokoreç – heavily spiced chopped cooked intestines, cooked with tomatoes and peppers, and served in a bun. NOTE: These are roasted horizontally, while doner is roasted vertically (just a note, so you don’t make a mistake)

Kokoreç. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Flickr cc: William Neuheisel

 

 

 

Midye Dolma – stuffed mussels (filled with cracked rice, pine nuts, spices, raisins, onion and garlic, and fresh herbs)

Midye dolma. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: Nevit Dilmen

 

Tantuni – thinly sliced beef, peppers, tomatoes, and spices wrapped in a tortilla

Tantuni. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: EbenezerScrooge

 

Vegetables

Misir – grilled/boiled corn on the cob

Misir - street corn. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Flickr cc: Natalie Sayin

 

Kestane – roasted chestnuts

Kestane, roasted chestnuts. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey
Wikimedia Commons: Brian Russell

 

Kumpir – baked potato, stuffed with just about anything!

Kumpir. Super stuffed baked potatoes. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey
Wikimedia Commons: Zorro2212

 

Pilav – rice, chickpeas, and pickled chilies (Nohutlu), or rice and chicken pilaf (Tavuk)

 

Desserts

Turkish Delight/Lokum – a sweet gummy type dessert, cut into squares and rolled in powdered sugar

Turkish delight (lokum). From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: Antony Stanley

 

Baklava – walnuts, pistachio, cinnamon, and honey all layered in phyllo dough – delicious!

Baklava. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey
Wikimedia Commons: Michal Osmenda

 

Lokma – balls of dough, friend and then swished in syrup. Think donut holes Plus.

Lokma. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey
Wikimedia Commons: elif ayse

 

Dondurma Ice cream that is sticky and toffee-like, and served with panache (and a bit of showmanship)

Dondurma - Turkish ice cream. From Best Street Foods in Istanbul, Turkey

Wikimedia Commons: Klearchos Kapoutsis

 

Fresh fruit

Dried nuts

 

YUM! What will you eat first, in Istanbul?

 

 

 

Interested in learning more about Turkish street food? Try
http://istanbuleats.com/
http://www.turkeysforlife.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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