A trip to Istanbul can have various purposes. Some would want to visit for the historical tourism, some others for shopping or even for just a relaxation on the shores of the Bosphorus. Watever your reason is, once you are in Istanbul you can’t miss out on the Street food experience. This is part of their culture and something for you to try.
I called this small article “Istanbul’s Street Food” . Although you can find some of those items in small cafes or restaurants, it is more fun to grab them to go and have the real experience.
So while in Istanbul, don’t hesitate to have some street food & Drinks. There are many things to grab and eat while walking around. Many street vendors are here to serve you all around the city and especially in its main touristic districts: Ortakoy, Sultanahmet & Taksim.
Oh and If you haven’t checked yet Istanbul’s Hidden Gems, make sure to do so!
Let’s enjoy together those delicious and Various specialties🤩
- The Delicious roasted Chestnuts
- The pomegranate Juice
- The Famous Kumpir
- The Turkish delight
- The Simit
- Istanbul’s Mussels
- The Balik Sandwish
- The Baklavas
1- The Delicious roasted Chestnuts🌰
The most popular street food you’ll find in Istanbul is the roasted chestnut (or Kestane). And this is one of my favorite. You will find those street vendors anywhere in the city, this will make you more eager to try them.
Chestnuts remain a good source of antioxidants, even after cooking. They’re rich in both gallic acid and ellagic acid and can’t prevent heart strokes. So here is one more reason to eat them.
What do they taste like?
This is a specialty of the region, and anyone coming from the Mediterranean area would know what am talking about: it tastes more or less like a baked potato in texture with a nutty and sweet flavor.
Oh they are served hot so they can warmth you in winter. You buy them by weight. a sweet snack, similar Expect to pay about 5 Turkish Lira for about 100g.
2- The pomegranate Juice🥤
The pomegranate juice! Nothing else than the fruit itself squeezed freshly and served to you! Istanbul has a great pomegranate quality and it has become a symbol of the city.
It is a seasonal Juice!
This juicy fruit fills up the city markets and vendors mostly during Fall season. So if you are there during this period make sure to try it.
It is served in plastic glasses that have different sizes. The large glass costs more or less 12 liras which is around 1.2 euro
3- The Famous kumpir🥔
One of the best street food I have ever had! Whatever you do in Turkey and whether you are a street food lover or no, don’t miss out on trying the Kumpir!
What is it?
Well its turkey’s unique way of a Baked Potato. Who doesn’t love potatoes?? And what if this potato is well baked with butter & cheese and served with numerous delicious toppings!! Some of those toppings are: mushrooms, pickled cabbage, sliced beets, sweetcorn, black olives, and many more. Also you get to choose your dip and as many toppings as you want!
Where to find it?
Ortakoy is the place to be to try the Kumpir! Actually you cannot walk along the narrow street behind the Mosque without noticing the colorful Kumpir Kiosks on both sides and almost all the people having their part.
Kumpir price: The kumpir price used to be around 15TL but it rose up to reach about 25TL which is about 3 USD depending on the current lira rate.
Tip! Try it when you are hungry and craving good fast food because it can be a bit heavy and you wouldn’t want to leave any bite of it behind.
4- The Turkish Delight🍬
This is basically the most famous turkish specialty. You can’t visit turkey without tasting some of those delights and taking many packages home. This is a family of confections known for its various flavors. Some of them are also stuffed with walnuts or pistachios and flavored with rosewater, citrus, resin, or mint.
So what does it taste like?
The Turkish delight also known as “Loukoum” has a very unique and unfamiliar taste. Its texture is gummy and sticky. It feels like a stuffed candy. The whole thing is so sweet, don’t imagine eating many pieces, that’s why I recommend taking some of that back home.
Tip! Istiklal street is full of those delights stores that either have some prepared boxes for you. You can also choose your perfect combination of flavors from the displayed merchandise.
Recommendation: There is this small Spices Bazar in Eminonu called Mısır Çarşısı that sells some of the greatest fresh delights and well spices. So go ahead and head there for some unique flavored treasures.
5- The Simit🥨
This is one of the specialties that you will find in the whole middle east. The Turkish have a hard time resisting this morning pleasure and the scent of this fresh sesame-crusted dough. This is the Turkish version for the famous American bagel.
So what is the Simit?
Simit is a circular bread, typically encrusted with sesame seeds or sunflower seeds. It is offered in many sizes and various levels of chewiness. Oh and it can as well be crunchy!
As you can see, it costs pretty much nothing! And can serve as a great morning energy booster. So go ahead and try it especially if you are new to the Middle East.
My Tips for you
- If you know that you are going on a day trip or on a boat, crab a couple of those for the road.
- Try it both as a plane because its delicious and with some Nutella. Because well who wouldn’t love that😋
6- Istanbul’s Mussels
Istanbul’s Mussels, seriously Anna? Well yes, this might look surprising to you as it was to me. Even though we are not in Belgium or roaming in the streets of the French Riviera, those sea pearls remain something in Istanbul.
Where to find them?
Anywhere where you have a crowd you will get the chance to find one of the Mussels street vendor. But if you are looking for it, you will definitely find many of those vendors in Taksim in Istiklal street. You can order by piece!
Try those delicious ones by the end of your tour day before dinner. So yes let them be some sort of an Appetizer.
Go there not in a rush and don’t be shy to pick the good ones. The Vendor will open them for you and you can eat them on the spot. Don’t be shy to ask for some lemon for it to be juicy. Bon Appetit!
7- The Balik Sandwich
Nowadays, the Galata bridge and its fish restaurants that lays at the mouth of the Golden Horn represents one of the most touristic spots in Istanbul. And well those Sandwiches became one of the top things to try. But where did this tradition come from?
A bit of History
So the idea came from enterprising boatmen who decided to cook the fish right on the boat and sell it ready to eat. They built grills in their boats, grilled fish fillets, stuffed them with bread, and handed those fish sandwiches to the people.
What to do?
Head to Eminönü, then to the western side of the Galata Bridge. You’ll see the balık-ekmek boats in the water. And on the bridge’s lower level you’ll find several small restaurants with low tables and chairs.
The sandwiches are served daily in the traditional boats tied to the quay, and in those small restaurants.
The pleasure does not end here! Don’t leave Istanbul without trying one of the delicious baklavas piece of heaven’s dessert. If you are not sure about what I am talking about….Check out the article’s first Picture😋
You might have had baklava once in your life before, but trust me coming from the Middle east and having had those gems thousands of time, I can tell you in there its different!
What is it made of?
Baklava is a sweet dessert that is made out of pastry filled with many types of nuts and/or dry fruits. It is considered very sweet for a dessert and can be a bit sticky thanks to the sugary syrup that holds the pastry all together.
Tip: Have it in the Morning with your cup of coffee or tea this way you would want to have more than one piece😋
Recommendations: HAFIZ MUSTAFA!!! You can’t leave Istanbul without trying this delicious iconic place that dates back to 1864. You will find many branches, but my favorite remains the one in Istiklal street with its rooftop terrace.