Istanbul street food: a foodie dream

Istanbul, Turkey

8 places
Глаша Макарова

Everyone knows Istanbul street vendors who wander around or are always at the same spot at the same time praising their food or proudly drinking tea. Don't be afraid - street food is safe. But be sure to walk a lot, as you will be eating a lot.

Eminönü Çarşısı

There are dozens of street cafes near this pier where they make delicious fish sandwiches called balıkekmek. Get this appealing thing with seasonal fish (like scomber), tomatoes, salad and crunchy onion rings (if you like) from a grill cart. Turn your face to the sea and feel the smell, before eating, to imagine you've just caught this fish. As a desert you can try turşu pickled vegetables from nearby stalls and ask for şalgam - this crimson beverage of beetroot and turnip will give you energy - it's sour, spicy and invigorating.


Get lost among century-old giant planetrees and noisy parrots hiding among their leaves in Gülhane Park. As legend says, once a ship carrying exotic birds sank in Bosporus and parrots stayed in a couple of Istanbul parks forever. In spring come here for tulips and in winter to feel this special hüzün Oriental melancholy from Orhan Pamuk's novels.

Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi

Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi is the first in the chain of the famous köfte meatballs places. It has already become history with its simple but original interiors, newspaper cuts on the walls and the waiters' uniforms. Their köfte is really fresh and delicious, so order minimum two and pair them with a bean salad and lots of greens. Just note, they don't take cards.

Tea on your way from Europe to Asia

Istanbul ferries go back centuries and have become the city symbol. Locals take this super exotic voyage from Europe to Asia without even thinking how special it is. The harbor is packed with tourists feeding hundreds of seagulls waiting for their simit sesame seed bread and weeping like mad. Give them some crumbs and drink herbal tea from tiny cups looking at the horizon. By the way, when Istanbul had no bridges (the first was built in 1973) ferries still looked the same though journeys were taken serious compared to a ride to another city.


Not far from Kadikoy, there is the legendary Baylan bakery where today's thirty-somethings had their first profiteroles. The interior is still the same, which is very nostalgic, and desserts are fabulous. No words can describe their trademark Kup Griye of vanilla ice cream, caramel, nuts and whipped cream. It you want to take something away get their handmade chocolate candy.

Bahariye Street

Bahariye is the Paris oasis in the city, from where you can take a tram to Kadikoy. It looks like a beautiful cross-cultural mosaics with its shops, restaurants, decorated sidewalks, a Greek church and an education center.
The street ends (or begins if we follow the one-way logic) by the square with a bull sculpture, which is always crowded. If you are here in the cool chestnut season the smell will make you feel this special atmosphere and the flavor will complete the charm. In summer look for carts with corn, freshly boiled or charcoal grilled.

Kanaat Lokantası

The famous Kanaat self-service has been serving excellent traditional food for decades and people stand in lines to try their legendary jambalaya-stuffed meat and vegetables. Bring some cash, no cards are accepted.

Street stalls with mussels

The locals eat mussels one by one, right by the stall generously pouring lemon on its rice filling using shell like a spoon. For locals it is a night snack and at the same time a nice chat with a vendor to discuss football or love to seafood. Rice makes it sushi-like, so be careful and don’t overeat.


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