Are you looking for street food in Istanbul and wondering where to try it?
Here you can find everything about Istanbul street food and the best places to try it – tested and approved!
Table of Contents
- 1. Midye Dolma – Mussels with Rice, Cinnamon and Lemon
- 2. Balik Ekmek – on the Ships at the Galata Bridge
- 3. Simit – on a Bosphorus ferry
- 4. Kokorec – in Eminonu and Kadikoy
- 5. Lahmacun – in Kadikoy
- 6. Misir – enjoy a corncob in Gulhane Park
- 7. Chestnuts – even in summer
- 8. Islak Hamburger – a soggy bun after a long night
- 9. Turkish ice cream – for the accompanying theatrics!
- 10. Kumpir – near Ortakoy Mosque
- 11. Cig Kofte and Icli Kofte
- 12. Waffles – Istanbul loves them
- 13. Tursu – pickled vegetables
- 14. Must-try Drinks in Istanbul
- 15. Döner, Börek, Kebab and Pide – Turkish Classics
- 16. Esnaf Lokantasi – Try the food in Istanbul’s workers’ hangouts
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 buy the mussels either on the street or at stalls.
Istanbulites are more likely to go to the stalls or restaurants that sell them to take away because of the freshness of the mussels. A shop we can recommend is Midyeci Ahmet in Besiktas.
- Midyeci Ahmet : This shop is famous for its mussels and kokorec.
- Other locations: Galata Bridge has stands with Midye Dolma. Kadikoy has many shops with Midye Dolma. Other examples are Mercan or Sargin Kokorec near Haydarpasa train station.
- Opening times: usually closed in the evening. You want them fresh, so go there no later than the early afternoon.
- Price: 5 to 8 lira for five shells
2. Balik Ekmek – on the Ships at the Galata Bridge
Balik (Fish) Ekmek (Bread) is a very simple sandwich made from a fried fish fillet, lettuce, onions and tomatoes.
Balik Ekmek is typical of the area around the Galata Bridge. You can eat it either in the restaurants under the Galata Bridge, the surrounding alleys, or from the boats south of the bridge. The latter is also our recommendation.
The small boats with the grill on board are actually a sight in Istanbul in their own right. Have the money ready to pay directly at the boats, as everything goes very quickly there.
- Location : on the ships South of Galata Bridge in Eminonu, South of Galata Bridge, T1 Eminonu Tram Station.
- Opening hours: from early morning until around 9 pm
- Price: 6 to 10 Turkish Lira
3. Simit – on a Bosphorus ferry
The simit is the Turkish pretzel. You can find little sesame ring stalls all over the city.
For us, the ideal place to eat a simit is on the Bosphorus ferries. Buy a simit for breakfast along with a glass of cay and enjoy it along with the breeze on the ferry’s top deck.
- Location: most ferries run between Eminönü (Galata Bridge), Kadikoy (Haydarpasa Station), Uskudar and Kabatas.
- Opening hours: The ferries usually run between 7am and 9pm
- Price: 1 to 1.25 Turkish Lira
4. Kokorec – in Eminonu and Kadikoy
The dish where opinions differ the most is definitely Kokorec.
What is it? You roll lamb entrails with intestines onto a kebab skewer and roast the whole thing.
You can order your kokorec as bread or just with the meat. The whole thing tastes a little bitter, is heavily seasoned, oily and yet crispy.
Try kokorec if you want to discover a new taste.
- Kral Kokorec : Kokorec is served here in bread or loose on a plate. You can also order Midye Dolma from Kral.
- Other locations: You can find many Kokorec shops near Haydarpasa train station and in Beyoglu. Midyeci Ahmet in Besiktas is also known for its Kokorec in Istanbul.
- Price: 6 to 10 Turkish Lira
5. Lahmacun – in Kadikoy
Lahmacun is sometimes called “the Turkish pizza”. The resemblance 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 and in restaurants.
- Halil Lahmacun : has the best Lahmacun in Istanbul!
- Opening times: daily from 11.30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (except public holidays)
- Other locations: Lahmacun is found in almost every second snack bar in Istanbul.
6. Misir – enjoy a corncob in Gulhane Park
Stands with fresh corn on the cob are an integral part of Turkey’s street scene.
You get your corn with salt or spices, depending on your taste.
The small, black spots on the cob of corn should be like this. This is a sign of good quality in Turkey.
- Gülhane Park : a stall with Misir is always at the entrance on Alemdar Cd. to Gulhane Park.
- Other locations: anywhere in Istanbul and especially near tourist attractions and public transport.
- Price: 3 to 4 Turkish Lira
7. Chestnuts – even in summer
In the past in Istanbul, the stands with corn on the cob used to switch to chestnuts in winters. Now both corn cobs and chestnuts available all year round.
- Location: you can find stalls with chestnuts close to major attractions like Hagia Sophia and public transport.
- Opening hours: there are small stalls with chestnuts near Hagia Sophia until nightfall
- Price: from 3 Turkish Lira
8. Islak Hamburger – a soggy bun after a long night
Islak Hamburger (wet hamburgers) or Tükürük Köftesi (spit boulette) is the name of the typical street food in Istanbul after a night of drinking.
What is that?
You stick a juicy piece of beef between burger halves, cooked with milk, garlic and mint and drench (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 nightlife hotspots in Istanbul.
- Locations: You can find the really good Islak burger joints at the top of Istiklal Caddesi, near Taksim Square.
- Price: 2-3 Turkish Lira
9. Turkish ice cream – for the accompanying theatrics!
Yes. Clearly! The Turkish ice cream “Dondurma” is part of a trip to Istanbul and of course part of the city’s street food.
It’s different than regular ice cream.
First of all, ice cream in Turkey is made from milk, mastic and salep and Turkish ice cream comes with an ice cream vendor’s show! Let yourself be surprised!
- Locations: anywhere downtown
- Price: from 3 Turkish Lira
10. Kumpir – near Ortakoy Mosque
Kumpir is a very large stuffed fried potato.
The ideal place to eat a kumpir is the area around the Ortakoy Mosque.
Kumpir shops in Turkey like to go by the name “Ortaköy-Kumpir” or similar names referring to Ortaköy.
A typical kumpir includes cheese, butter, sucuk (sausage), pickles, corn, lettuce and sliced vegetables. You can buy them to take away from stands or restaurants.
- Location : In the streets near Ortakoy Mosque. There are buses from the T1 terminus Kabatas to the mosque .
- Opening times: the stands are open until late in the evening
- Price: 6 to 15 Turkish Lira depending on the side dish
11. Cig Kofte and Icli Kofte
You make the original Cig Köfte from raw minced meat or in the vegetarian version with bulgur.
For several years only vegetarian cig kofte are allowed to be sold. We prefer that version anyway.
- Orhan Usta is probably the most famous cig kofte seller in Istanbul. His booth is right at the Haseki Kapisi entrance of the Egyptian Bazaar. He sells Cig Kofte and Cig Kofte Dürüm. You have to look for him a little and be there before noon if possible. Ask the other sellers, they’ll tell you where it is.
- Other locations: Cig kofte stalls are far less common in Istanbul than any other street food outlet. It is therefore difficult to find them and the sellers are constantly on the way. One place you’ll usually find them is at the entrances to the Egyptian Bazaar near the Galata Bridge. Otherwise there are Cig Kofte in many restaurants in Istanbul.
- Price: from 5 Turkish Lira
For Icli Köfte, you put bulgur with minced meat and onions through the meat grinder, form egg-shaped dumplings and fry them. Some icli kofte contain grated walnuts instead of minced meat.
- Sabirtasi : the restaurant in Beyoglu is famous for its icli kofte.
- Other Locations: Look for Icli Kofte at the north end of Istiklal Caddesi in Beyoglu. You will definitely find a booth there.
- Price: from 5 Turkish Lira
12. Waffles – Istanbul loves them
We would normally think about waffles in Brussels. But Istanbul is crazy about waffles! The proof lies in Ortaköy and Kadikoy.
Where you can also find Kumpir in Ortaköy, there are various waffle restaurants.
On the Asian side in Kadikoy, between Haydarpasa Train Station and Moda Park, there are dozens of waffle shops. The best are in the Moda Park area.
You can plan the tea gardens in the small Moda Park for breakfast or a glass of cay. Waffles may not be a typical Turkish dish, but Istanbul is mad about them.
- Ortaköy : everything around the Ortaköy Mosque with a perfect view of the Bosphorus Bridge.
- Kadikoy : the small streets near 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’s particularly popular for breakfast or an afternoon glass of cay.
- Price: from 8 Turkish Lira
13. Tursu – pickled vegetables
Turks regularly eat pickled veggies and they put everything in! Really everything! And they love tangy succulent bits and the drink that becomes out of it.
This is Tursu, a drink made with pickled vegetables.
The whole thing is available as street food in Istanbul and its called Karisik Tursu, or 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 Kadikoy, Tursu can also be found in the narrow streets near the Haydarpasa train station. In winter, you will find more stalls with Tursu.
- Price: from 2 Turkish Lira
14. Must-try Drinks in Istanbul
The following drinks are a staple in the streets of Istanbul. Some of them you can only find in Turkey.
- Ayran: is the typical yogurt drink from Turkey that you can find all over the country.
- Cay: the Turkish tea comes from the Black Sea coast 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 Turkey’s culture. In Kadikoy, many shops have small stalls with Turkish coffee to drink by the side of the road.
- Raki: the aniseed schnapps is less a part of street food and more of Turkey’s national culture.
- Serbet: an Ottoman drink made from water, sugar, fruits and flowers.
- Salep: a drink made from the roots of orchids. You can find it in the tea bones at Moda Park, especially in winter.
- Salgam is a sour and spicy drink made from the juice of red rutabaga that is slightly salted. You can also buy it in the supermarket. Sometimes it also 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 Vefa Bozacasi in Istanbul.
15. Döner, Börek, Kebab and Pide – Turkish Classics
Döner, kebab and all other typical Turkish dishes are of course available in Istanbul.
You will only be surprised that the typical Dürüm is not as integral to street food in Turkey as it is in some other European countries with large Turkish populations.
- Tarihi Karadeniz Pide and Döner : According to many votes the best place to eat a kebab in Istanbul. We have no argument against it. The pide here tastes good too.
- Other locations: go to Esnaf Lokantsi, a working-class eatery in Istanbul. In it you will usually find a very large selection of Turkish home cooking.
- Price: from 3 Turkish lira for a Dürüm
16. Esnaf Lokantasi – Try the food in Istanbul’s workers’ hangouts
Have you ever wondered where ordinary Istanbulites go to eat?
The majority of people in Istanbul cannot keep up with high prices of 10€ for a normal meal in Sultanahmet. So they head to Esnaf Lokantasi.
The establishments here aim to serve regular Turkish customers, who are mostly workers.
The restaurants offer a wide range of food at very reasonable prices. Istanbulites go to the bars for breakfast, lunch or with the family in the evening.
- Sahin Lokantasi in Beyoglu: A dozen different dishes from Turkish home cooking are on the daily menu in the family business, which has been run since 1967.
- Özkonak Lokantasi in Beyoglu: 20 different Turkish dishes such as manti and kofte are on a daily changing menu.
- 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 Kadikoy is without a doubt the most famous place of its kind in Istanbul. This is where students, workers and tourists eat till you drop at a great price.
- Other locations: there are Esnak Lokantasi in all districts of Istanbul. For example, stroll down the side streets near the Halic metro station near the Galata Bridge, or simply search for such places on Google.
- Price: Soups 3-5 Turkish Lira, main dishes from 7 Turkish Lira
Have fun with our street food guide during your trip to Istanbul. It takes more than a week to eat your way through everything!