Delicious Street Food in Istanbul
Where to Eat the Best Street Food in Istanbul? Self-Guided Culinary Tour
Istanbul is one of the most popular touristic destinations in the world. It is visited by millions of domestic and foreign visitors every year. And, in addition to historical works, food also attracts visitors.
Visiting historical masterpieces like Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace or taking a boat tour on the Bosphorus is some of the must-do activities if you visit Istanbul. While you explore Istanbul, you can also discover and taste some unique dishes in the historical neighborhoods, especially in the Old City and Beyoglu, and turn your culture trip into a gourmet tour in Istanbul.
Istanbul boasts hundreds of dishes and rich food culture. Therefore, this amazing city offers delicious dishes you definitely have to try. In this sense, I’ve listed the best street food items and restaurants in Istanbul.
Where to Eat the Best Street Food in Istanbul?
Balik Ekmek (Fish Sandwich)
Undoubtedly, you can find balik ekmek in tons of places. However, the center of balik ekmek is Eminonu in Istanbul. You can enjoy your balik ekmek at Tarihi Eminonu Balik Ekmek restaurant while watching the great Galata Tower view.
There are a lot of balik ekmek shops from Eminonu side to bus stops at Galata Bridge, which connects Karakoy and Eminonu. If you don’t want to remain standing while eating, you can find a number of balik ekmek shops that offer tables under Galata Bridge and taste delicious mackerel.
Alternatively, you can have balik ekmek by the Bosphorus at shabby but delicious restaurants that are far from the busy and crowded Eminonu. Some of the places you may want to visit are Nimet Abla Balik Ekmek and Taka Balik Ekmek, famous for its grilled anchovy, at Yenikoy or Muradoglu Balik Ekmek, opened in 1995, at Beykoz.
Balik Ekmek Street Food in Istanbul Old City
Midye Dolma (Stuffed Mussel)
Midye dolma is mussels stuffed with herbed rice, currants, and pine nuts and it’s one of the most popular street food in Istanbul.
You can always find street stalls to try this delicious food, but you can alternatively find some established shops too. Especially, Mercan Kokorec and Cengelkoy Kokorec are the two places that I highly recommend. In these restaurants, stuffed mussel is as tasty as kokorec and both are totally worth trying.
Additionally, if you wish to dine at a nicer place, Kiyi Restaurant is one of the best options you have.
Lastly, Tarihi Karakoy Midyecisi is another place that can satisfy you. You will definitely enjoy the stuffed mussel at this established shop which dates back to 1921.
Midye Dolma Street Food in Taksim
Kokorec (Lamb Intestines)
Kokorec is a favorite choice among giblet lovers and there are two types of kokorec you can try, which are Istanbul and Izmir style. The most famous place where you can find kokorec is Cengelkoy Kokoreccisi at Cengelkoy, a nostalgic Istanbul neighborhood. This shop has only one branch and its kokorec becomes more delicious thanks to a special thyme and pepper sauce.
Additionally, Mercan Kokorec and Sampiyon Kokorec in Beyoglu are some other options you can go for in Istanbul.
If you are on the Asia side of Istanbul, Gunes Kokorec in Uskudar or Adem Baba Kokorec at Kadikoy Dock is your best bets. Moreover, Gala Kokorec that boasts 14 branches is another place where you can eat some great kokorec.
Recommended Reading: Best Places to Eat Kokorec in Istanbul
Kokorec Street Food in Istanbul
Nohutlu Pilav and Tavuklu Pilav
(Pilaf with Chickpeas and Pilaf with Chicken)
Istanbul is a city where you can find pilaf day or night. And these places are usually the ones only regulars know. Meshur Tahtakale Pilavcisi is one of such hidden gems. It’s a small place where you can try pilaf or pilaf with chicken.
Another shop you might want to try is Meshur Unkapani Pilavcisi. It’s a place where ayran meets pilaf and we can guarantee you will like this combination. If you are looking for a different alternative, Tarihi Kalkanoglu Pilavicisi sounds like a good option. Here, you can try pilaf with fried meat or beans. You should also note that pilaf at this place is cooked with butter and broth. You can find branches of Tarihi Kalkanoglu Pilavcisi in Beyoglu and Kadikoy.
A great choice on the Asian side is surely Pilavcioglu where you can find soup, sautéed meat, and sautéed chicken in addition to pilaf.
Istanbul Simidi (Bagel)
Trabzon and Ankara style bagel are the ones when it comes to the bagel in Turkey. We should also note that all bagel styles are delicious in Turkey but Istanbul style bagel is still special especially as part of Turkish breakfast. It’s possible to come across a famous bagel shop at any neighborhood in Istanbul.
Some of the important bagel shops in Istanbul are Tarihi Karakoy Galata Simitcisi in Karakoy, Tarihi Harbiye Firini, Tarihi Bogazkesen Firini, and Yeldegirmeni Firini in Kurtulus. Only in Yeldegirmeni district, you can find 3 bagel shop. Therefore, you can imagine bagel is a big deal in Istanbul.
Simit Street Food in Istanbul
Kofte Ekmek (Meatball Sandwich)
It’s a common sight to see the famous meatball sandwich seller on Besiktas football team’s match days at Macka in Besiktas, street stalls selling all sorts of meat, or meatball sellers at Haydarpasa, where you can both enjoy your meatball and the amazing view Haydarpasa offers. In short, you can realize what a big place meatball has in Istanbul’s food culture.
At Fulya in Besiktas, Orjin Kofte, where you can also find fried meat and rib steak, is a great choice too. If you don’t want raw onions in your sandwich, the place offers caramelized onions.
Local Street Food Kofte in Istanbul
Corn is another important item of street food culture in Istanbul. It’s consumed as boiled, grilled or in a glass, which has become popular recently, but no matter how it’s consumed, people love eating corn on streets in Istanbul. If you feel hungry while visiting shops in Spice Bazaar or if you want to snack at Sultanahmet, corn sounds like a good option to choose.
Moreover, many corn stalls in Kadikoy, Uskudar, Eminonu, and Besiktas are waiting for you to try corn in Istanbul.
I suggest you choose small stalls where you will probably have a hard time finding an available seat, but that tells you why these places are the ones to go for. You can find plenty of such doner shops in Kadikoy, Uskudar, Besiktas, and Eminonu.
Donerci Sahin Usta at the entrance of Grand Bazaar and Asim Usta in Besiktas are some of the places where you can have a quick and amazing meal in Istanbul. Another spot to visit is Zumrut Doner nearby Spice Bazaar. The common point of these neighborhoods is that all of them are nearby ferry piers. Therefore, you can enjoy doner sandwich before you depart from Uskudar or Kadikoy for Eminonu or Besiktas or vice versa.
Recommended Reading: Best Doner Kebab in Istanbul
Istanbul’s Best Street Food Doner Sandwich
Kumpir (Baked Potato)
Kumpir is one of the symbols of Ortakoy and, naturally, there are tons of shops you can try this delicious snack here. Kumpir is cooked in a special oven, filled with butter and goat cheese, as well as any toppings you prefer. Some of the items you can include in your kumpir are Russian salad, bulghur salad, mushroom, red cabbage with yogurt, and sliced olives.
You can just order your kumpir at one of the various shops in Ortakoy, sit on a bench and enjoy the Bosphorus and Ortakoy view.
Islak Hamburger (Wet Burger)
Another unique Istanbul delicacy is Islak Hamburger. You can find many shops that sell islak hamburger at Siraselviler Street in Taksim. A steamed burger is topped with a special sauce, which makes the burger wet. A lot of butter is used to make this burger and the burger meat is spicy. Therefore, it’s a unique type of burger that is worth trying.
Istanbul Self-Guided Street Food Tour
Chestnut used to be the symbol of winter but it’s common to see a street vendor selling this delicious snack any day of the year these days. You can come across one of such street sellers at touristic spots like Taksim, Eminonu, and Sultanahmet. And I highly recommend you to try this classical street food when you visit Istanbul.
Istanbul Street Food Guide
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Best Street Food in Istanbul Blog Article by Serhat Engul