Istanbul is a rich city, full of culture and history. When deciding to come here for a vacation to make memories you might ask yourself “Well, what am I going to eat in Istanbul?”, so we thought it’s a necessity to make a list of İstanbul’s beautiful and complex cuisine and answer all of your questions regarding the best foods you must eat in İstanbul. Let’s take a look at average food prices and areas known for their delicious street food. It’s possible to find both very expensive, luxurious restaurants and very affordable small businesses to dine in. İstanbul is a mix of every person and culture that has been through its 7 hills, so believe us when we say you will have no problem when loading up on tasty food. We recommend you to try the corner restaurants, food trolleys near the coast and as many different cuisines as you can while having your daily trips in İstanbul. Hotel food is tasty and convenient for sure, but to get the most of the İstanbul experience, you must try the food on our list. Let’s take a look:
The way to start your day changes from culture to culture, but we can confidently say that the Anatolian way is one of the best. In Turkey, having a really large breakfast is the custom and so there are lots of options. Also known as “serpme” or mixed, Turkish breakfast traditionally consists of white bread, different kinds of jam, cheese and olives, butter, fried eggs, some type of meat and other Turkish meals. If you have a long day ahead of you, Turkish breakfast will surely keep you energized while exploring İstanbul.
Also known as shawarma, döner is a bit of a national dish in Turkey. Usually a big piece of meat spins around traditional wood fire and is cut on demand. It can be served like a sandwich, wrap, on a plate of flat bread with yogurt, tomato sauce and butter. The best döner can be usually found in old-time small restaurants. There are also vegan options for all these Turkish meals so you can seek them out.
Also can be found in many Middle Eastern countries, içli köfte is a delicious and unique snack. İçli köfte usually has an oval, egg-like shape made from crispy wheat and has a filling of very generous minced beef, onion and pine nuts. It can be found in almost any Turkish restaurant, so don’t forget to try them when you encounter these tasty bites.
Mantı is the national dish of Turkey. It has countless versions, and we recommend you try all of them if possible. It is chunks of small dough with delicious filling; it can be fried or boiled and usually resembles Chinese dumplings, only much smaller. In a Turkish household, mantı is served as dinner usually bi-weekly. Turkish people love it, and we know you will too. If you’re asking yourself “What should I eat in İstanbul?”, this is one thing you can’t pass on.
These stuffed mussels will rock your world. Midye dolma is a very popular street food that includes seafood and spicy rice, served in the mussels’ shells with a slide of lemon. The savory and spicy stuffings are easy to find, especially near the coast during after hours. Famously eaten with hands, don’t hesitate to get them dirty to become a true İstanbulite. If you truly want to feel like a local, this is the best street food in İstanbul to eat.
Along with Turkish delights, baklava might be the most popular Turkish dessert globally. If you’re looking for a sweet getaway in İstanbul, you definitely should try these many sheets of super thin pastry brushed with butter, layered with chopped nuts and soaked in sherbet. You will have no problem finding this Turkish sweet so make sure to try it when you come across it.
Balık ekmek means fish bread in Turkish, and it is a delicious way to experience İstanbul. Most fishermen have a little stall that they grill and sell fresh fish daily with the view of Bosphorus and it is usually served with a side of pickle juice. Balık ekmek is one of the best parts of street food in İstanbul, and locals love visiting İstanbul harbors for a night out and eating these delicious sandwiches. The seafood in İstanbul has a wide variety of selection and we guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Pide is a dish that has countless versions worldwide. It is known by names such as pita, flatbread and chapati. With its Anatolian version, a flat dough gets its sides folded in and a boat-like shape is born. Then it can have fillings such as a mixture of cheese, spinach,minced meat and pepperoni. A great meal to have for hungry wanderers and there are lots of pide masters in İstanbul. We recommend you to visit these restaurants and talk to the owners, as they are usually very old and sweet İstanbulites who have lots to say.
This food is also known as Turkish pizza, but there are some key differences. With pizza, the dough is usually thicker and the filling is very intense. Lahmacun on the other hand is spread as thin as possible and the minced meat filling is rather light. This way, you can eat 2-3 lahmacuns in one sitting. Also being a beloved street food in Turkey, chances are you won't have any trouble finding it. İstanbul is one of the biggest metropoles in the world, and the unique dishes of it are endless. We recommend you try as much as possible and make a map of the places you want to visit. If you ever feel lost, you can always contact us for a little bit of help during your tasty journey. Visiting İstanbul will be life changing for sure and we are so excited for you!