İstanbul is an ancient city that hosted many civilisations, so the food culture is very rich. Istanbul , being the most crowded and diverse city in Turkey, has the best food options. İstanbul Street food is the perfect reflection of both Turkey’s and the city’s magnificent tastes. It is also cheap and it will help you to manage your budget. I suggest you not to spend too much time in luxury restaurants, especially if you have very limited time. Instead, you can discover delicious street food and try unique and amazing flavours. In İstanbul, one of the best things about street food is that it is reachable 7/24. It won’t be so hard to find something to eat, even if it is 5 a.m. in the morning.
After this brief information, I would like to list my the top 20 street food in İstanbul and I also want to share some suggestions about the best places that you can eat them. Enjoy and Bon Appetit!
The main component of Kokoreç is grilled offal. It is sliced, chopped and mixed with tomato, some other vegetables, spices and served instead of bread. There are terms used like Quarter Kokoreç, Half Kokoreç etc. with defines the size of the bread. This food may not be a good choice for lunch but it will be a perfect choice in the night, especially after drinking some beers.
One of the best places to eat Kokoreç is “Şampiyon Kokoreç”. I usually go with the half bread size which is enough. The price of it is ₺15. (around $2.80)
2. Midye Dolma (Stuffed Mussels)
It is a famous late night snack. There are two options for Midye Dolma. You can either say how much you want, take your package and leave but the traditional way is not like that. People usually just stand in front of the seller, eat as much as they want and let the vendor know when it is enough. After that, he will count the empty ones and tells the bill.
Stuffed Mussels can be found in many places in the city but I think you can always found some in Taksim region. But I especially suggest the mobile one in front of Bahçeşehir University in Beşiktaş. It was really delicious. The price of 1 mussel is around ₺1 (around $0.2) but it can change a bit according to its size.
It is a crusted bread covered with sesame. Maybe you had tried similar things especially in Europe, for example, German’s bagel, but none of them is delicious as Turkish Simit. You can either eat it alone or with cheese and tomato. It would be a good match if you have a cup of that besides your simit.
To me, simit is best for breakfast but you can also prefer as a snack all day long. The most famous chain cafe for eating simit is “Simit Sarayı”. However, you will be seeing many sellers on the roads also. Just be sure they are fresh. The simit price is ₺1.5. (around $0.3)
4. Islak Hamburger (Wet Burger)
One of the most famous street food is this one and during my first visits to İstanbul, I ate so many. It has a unique taste that I liked a lot. The best combination is with “ayran”. Even while writing about Islak Hamburger, it makes me feel hungry. The tomato and onion sauce of the burger is so delicious. They are sold 24 hours a day, especially in Taksim.
The best and most known place for Islak Hamburger is “Kızılkayalar” in Taksim. Price of one is around ₺5. (around $1)
5. Halka Tatlısı & Lokma
These two are a similar base with doughnuts but have a special syrup around them. Both of them are very delicious and must be tried. There is also a tradition about Lokma. Turkish people hand out Lokma after important occasions like birth and death.
According to locals, one of the best is “Tatlıcı Safa Eminönü”. However, you may try from one of the mobile sellers. Price of 1 Halka tatlısı is around ₺1 (around $0.2) and for Lokma it all depends how much you can eat.
6. Mısır (Corn)
Corn is probably the favourite street food of children. Also mine 🙂 There are two types. You can choose a grilled one or boiled. Put some salt on it and enjoy!
I won’t be able to suggest a place for corn. I’ve never faced with a bad one. So just buy one whenever you see it. Price differs between ₺3- ₺5. (around $0.6- $1)
7. Kestane (Chestnuts)
While walking on the İstanbul streets in cold winter days, the smell of chestnuts roasted over charcoal will call you for sure. Just follow the smell and enjoy your hot chestnuts.
Price differs according to size but to give you an idea, 150 gr package is around ₺10. (around $2)
8. Pilav (Rice)
It is a traditional Turkish cuisine and filling option if you are very hungry. There are many hawkers in İstanbul streets that sell rice combining with chickpea or chicken. I will personally suggest having your rice with chicken.
“Unkapanı Pilavcısı” is very famous and sometimes there can be a long cue in front of this one. A portion of rice with chicken is ₺10. (around $2)
9. Döner (Kebab)
Chicken or Meat? What is your choice? Döner is so famous not only in İstanbul, but also in the other countries of Europe. Many Turkish people open döner shops in foreign countries and it is very famous all over the world. It is served in a wrap form in the streets.
There are millions of Döner points in İstanbul but “Bambi” in Taksim has a special place in my heart. Especially meat dürüm with cheese is excellent. The price is ₺16. (around $3)
Kumpir is made with baked potato. After baking, they put some ingredients into the potato, like sausages, chicken, peas, corn, olives, sauces etc. according to your selection.
Ortaköy region is famous for Kumpir stores. There are a couple of places side by side just next to the Ortaköy Mosque. I’m sure Ortaköy will be in your tour plan. Therefore you can go there hungry to taste Kumpir. Approximate price of a regular Kumpir is ₺20. (around $3.8)
11. İçli Köfte
İçli Köfte has a crispy bulgur shell. Inside of this shell, there is minced meat, parsley, and some nuts. It is made by hand and it is a different taste that you can not find easily in other countries. Honestly, I am not a fan of it, but you may try and decide yourself.
The best place to eat İçli Köfte is “Sabırtaşı” in Taksim. In many restaurants prices are around ₺8-₺10 for one. (around $2)
12. Balık Ekmek (Fish in a Bread)
If you want to eat fish but don’t want to spend so much money in a fancy fish restaurant, Balık Ekmek is a cheap and authentic option. There are many places you can enjoy your meal in a small boat and it is a nice experience.
In the Eminönü region, you can find small fisherman boats that serve Balık Ekmek. I tried that concept not in Eminönü, but in Beykoz and it was very lovely. Price for one is ₺12. (around $2.3)
13. Çiğ Köfte
Çiğ köfte is wonderful finger food. Best way to eat this is to put in a lettuce leaf and squeeze some lemon. There is also a wrap version if you like. It is of the cheapest options if you are very hungry. If you like a spicy and hot meal, Çiğ Köfte is perfect for you.
My favourite brand is “O Ses Çiğ Köfte”. The price is around ₺10. (around $2)
14. Kağıt Helva
This is a street food mostly preferred by children. It is composed of many layers with sweetmeat. Usually, it has a colour like light yellow but there are some colourful ones also. ıf you are travelling with your children and hanging around in the streets of İstanbul, why don’t you buy him or her a one Kağıt Helva? 🙂
You can buy from a local whenever you see them carrying many of Kağıt Helva. Especially in the touristic places, you will see many of them. Price for one is around ₺2. (around $0.4)
Here is one of my favourites. The main base of the Gözleme is handmade flatbread. For the ingredients, part options are so rich. The most common one is with cheese but there are places that do Gözleme with vegetables, meat etc…
I won’t be recommending a place for Gözleme, but just try to find a local woman doing Gözleme just in front of you. So that you can be a witness of preparation of traditional street food. Price may differ according to ingredients but it will be between ₺5 to ₺10 (around $1- $2)
16. Pamuk Şeker
I can explain this as a big sugar ball in a form similar to cotton. To be honest, I am not sure how healthy is it and I have not tried it either. But I saw it a lot during my İstanbul trips. Especially the pink ones. I was afraid that they are using colouring material. However, if you like maybe you can try and let me know about your opinion in the comment section. The price should be something around ₺3- ₺4. (around $0.7)
Especially in winter days, you may hear a guy is shouting in the streets like “boooozaaa”. It was a bit strange when I first hear it, then I got used to hearing. It is the selling strategy of Boza actually. It is a drink made from millet. It was very popular in Ottoman time but still, some people sell it in a traditional way. Price is around ₺5.(around $1)
18. Turşu (Pickles)
Turkish people are preserving fruits and vegetables in a special condition for approximately one year and they produce delicious pickles. There are shops that you can have your pickles as take away or consume on spot. It is better to try some in a small glass and after that, you can buy more if you like.
Best regions to eat pickles are Fatih and Unkapanı. It is hard to give information about prices because there are many types and sizes. So it is better you just go one of the shops and discover yourself.
19. Tükürük Köftesi
It is basically meatball with a funny name. Tükürük means saliva in Turkish. I really don’t know why this name is given but I can say that it is not because of meatball’s taste. Because it is really delicious.
Best places to eat this kind of meatball is in Sultanahmet. Price is around ₺15. (around $3)
20. Sucuk Ekmek
Turkish style fermented sausage is a street food everyone must try. It is served in bread. You may have it alone or with tomato, cheese or with some sauces. I tried just with ketchup and I think it was enough. By the way, a small note for you if you will eat this for the first time. Don’t even try to put some salt on it. Be sure, it is salty enough…
In Beşiktaş region you may have Sucuk Ekmek on street. Besides, take a beer from a market and enjoy your meal with the wonderful view of Bosphorus! Price is around ₺10. (around $2)
To sum up, there are many street food options in İstanbul. Most of them are delicious and you don’t need to worry about health issues most of the time. Especially in the touristic regions like Beşiktaş, Ortaköy, Taksim, Eminönü, Sultanahmet etc. you will see many of them. They are also open even late at night and you will have a chance to try whatever you want 7/24.
İstanbul has a very nice cultural mix and so that it has a very rich cuisine. I have just tried to list the most popular and delicious ones. I also suggested you some places specifically but don’t try to find each one of them. I’m sure you can also discover your unique delicious food points. Good luck and Bon Appetit!…
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