Istanbul Street Food

Istanbul Street Food

Turkish Street Food Classics

After having led a considerable amount of food tours, one thing is clear for us: Nothing intrigues our guests more than street food sold in trays and carts in the streets of the city. Upon realisation of this fact, it was neccessary for us to open a seperate chapter for street food. Here it goes, the most popular street food in Istanbul:

Simit – Turkish Bagel

We start the list with the most popular street food in Turkey. A common snack, perfect accompany to tea, and the favourite breakfast treat , simit or Turkish bagel. Allthough known as by the name Turkish bagel, simit beside its shape has no resemblance to bagel. For the first thing it is much crispier. This crippiness is achieved through dipping of the dough paste into a hint of molasses prior to encrusting it with sesames and baking it in masonary ovens. The cripiness, the slight sweet taste that comes from the hint of molasses and the slightly nuty flavour of sesames make it unresistible when it is hot. Probably therefore it is the favourite street food in Turkey now marketed as “just came out of the oven” by the street vendors.

Midye Dolma – Stuffed Mussels

Stuffed mussels is the new street food phenomena in Istanbul. It is invented some hundred years ago in the Karakoy neighbourhood, but in it is the recent years which made it to a street food legend. We try stuffed mussels in two of our tours, in two continents tour by the eatery which is its inventor and in taksim night tour, in the fisher market, where it has became the favourite choice of the night foodies. The stuffing is usually herbed rice, pine nuts and currants. Sounds simple, but it is so good, that a lack of inhibition usually follows the first trial, so that the food meant as a snack at the end makes you fuller than you could possibly be with a proper meal. Don’t believe us? Watch the Antony Bourdains video in Istanbul and see it for yourself..

Islak Hamburger – Wet Burgers

Here is another popular street food of Taksim. Unlike other street foods in the list it isn’t sold in trolleys or tray, but in the stalls of the fast food restaurants lining the enterance of Istiklal Street in Taksim. But like a street food it is meant to be a snack and always eaten standing, therefore we included it in streets foods article, rather than in fast foods article. And what is so special about wet burger. Well, the time it is eaten, since it is a post drunk classic. Well the piquant tiny tomato sauced burgers have their share of garlic, pepper and other strong herbs.

Kestane – Roasted Chestnuts

There isn’t any other street food that intrigue the visitor more than chestnuts. The great enthusiasm is instantly lost when one finds out that it is the simple chestnut and nothing fancy. To add to the disappoinment I sould maybe add that it is not the cheapest street food, but a good choice if you need something filling.

Mısır – Corn

Boiled or grilled corn is another quite simple and common street food in Turkey. Served on green corn leaves and sprinkled with salt, it is a convenient street food for locals, which rarely consume corn at home.

Cig Kofte – Raw Meatballs or Paties

Cig kofte, once as legendary treat among its fans fell from grace when a law banning use of raw meat in its preparation was passed due to hygenic concerns. Well, on the bright side when you don’t eat meat, the completely vegan cig kofte, often sold also in street carts, is completely safe the consume now. Potato mash which is used instead of raw meat, the main ingridient of original cig kofte, doesn’t exactly give the taste of meat, but combined with the other ingridients, with which it is kneaded, bulgur, onion, tomato, peppers and lots of but lots of herbs, it is still something. Especially, when wrapped in a lettuce leave and consumed with a squeeze of lemon and a hint of pommegranate syrup as people used to do when there was still meat inside cig kofte!

Tavuk Pilav – Chicken & Rice

Well, here it comes again. The weirdest of all street food allready mentioned Turkish fast food article. Why?
because the combination of chicken meat chunks, chick peas and rice, which is a quite tasty combination by the way, looks like a perfect home food and seem not to belonging to glass covered street cards. Believe me, locals are also usualy suspicious of this weird street food idea. Up until they try it for the first time. Than it can be an addiction depending on who your street vendor is, as some create an art from this simple ingridients and get city wide fame for that.


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