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Best Street Foods to Try in Istanbul

If there is something great about Istanbul, it’s the street food scene. Incredibly rich, varied, and affordable, it makes the best – and most enjoyable – way to delve into the local culture and endless flavors of this cosmopolitan city. Let’s go on a ride together to discover the best on-the-go food you can enjoy during your stay!

Doner Kebab

Don’t waste time looking for the best address, you can never go wrong with doner kebab in Istanbul. If hunger strikes, just stop at any Kebab place and grab your delicious sandwich of meat (cooked on a vertical rotisserie). The meat is usually wrapped in “durum”, a freshly baked and delicious Turkish wrap replacing the bread.

Lahmacun

Lahmacun is the Armenian/Turkish version of the Lebanese “Lahm bi ajin” (also known as Turkish pizza). It is a round crispy dough topped with minced meat, vegetables, and herbs. Add a squeeze of lemon on it and enjoy it with a “ayran” (yogurt). So good and so cheap! (you can buy it at $1)

Simit

There is no way you can miss the red simit stands when in Istanbul! Found on every touristic street, these stands serve what is known as the “Turkish bagels”. Covered with sesame seeds, this popular circular crunchy dough can be enjoyed either plain or filled with cheese or nutella – at 3 turkish liras. If you’re lucky, you can enjoy them hot – perfect for a morning bite or an afternoon snack!

Nothing like a warm Simit on a rainy day…

Wet Burger

As wet as its name indicates, this burger, also called “Islak burger”, is definitely a must-try in Istanbul.  The secret about it is not its simple “beef patty in a soft bun” recipe, but rather the fact that it is soaked in tomato sauce and left to sweat inside a steam box before being served to the customer. So juicy you could die!

Vegan Köfte

Another delicious $1 meal option you can find in the streets of Istanbul. Wrapped in a pita, this sandwich is made of a slightly spicy vegan kofte where the meat is substituted with bulgur wheat rice and accompanied with lettuce and some molasses sauce. Perfect for vegetarians.

Manti

It’s not practically a grab-and-go food but you can’t miss it in Istanbul! Known as the “Turkish dumplings” or “Turkish raviolis”, the Manti is a dish that combines small baked or fried meat-filled dough boats with yogurt and tomato sauce. Don’t forget the garlic, it makes all the difference! The best Manti I had was in “Casita Laga Luga”, Nisantasi, and in “Bodrum Manti & Café”.

Manti at “Bodrum Cafe”

Kokoreç 

This one is for the hard-core souls. The kokoreç  is made of lamb intestines chopped and grilled on a pit and served with herbs and spices in a sandwich. It’s prepared on the spot and it’s pretty cool to watch how it’s done – while you see the fat melting and you’re already drooling over that juicy combo!

Balik Ekmek

Turkish appellation for “fish sandwich”, the Balik Ekmek is usually found around the Bosphorus, in the Eminonu area. Grab your grilled fish sandwich from a vendor or at the fish market and enjoy it while wandering around the Bosphorus. Quite a typical Istanbul experience!

Kestana

You can’t miss the smell of Kestana or roasted chestnuts in the streets of Istanbul. You’ll find yourself drawn to it before knowing, buying your own daily dose of pure delight. (Get double the pleasure when chestnut and corn are grilling on the same stand!)

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For the Sweet Tooth

Sahlep

If you’re Lebanese, you already know what Sahlep (or Sahlab) is. Since it was introduced by the Ottomans, the hot dessert can be found in Istanbul as well, except that it is served as a hot beverage. Made of hot milk, sugar and cinnamon, it makes a perfectly on-the-go soothing beverage on a cold day.

Turkish ice cream (Dondurma)

The famous Turkish ice cream you can find on the streets is also called Dondurma. The flavor is mastic and the texture is thick, chewy, and elastic.

Kunefeh

Popular in the Arab world, the kunefeh can also be found in Istanbul. Since every country has its special way of doing this delicious dessert (made of cheese topped with shredded dough and soaked in sugar syrup), it’s worth trying the Turkish version if you’re in Istanbul!

Baklava

Same goes for baklava. I honestly found the Lebanese version more flavorsome but don’t listen to me! You can’t leave Istanbul without trying those puff pastries filled with walnut or pistachios, and brushed with butter and sugar syrup. Perfect for an afternoon sweet craving!

Bon appetit!

Have you tried any other street food in Istanbul that you think should be on that list? Drop me a message!

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