Explore the wonders of Turkish cuisine!
Street Food in Istanbul
Street food in Istanbul has been around for a while now. Even in the old days, street food culture in the city is known to have been very rich. American author Francis Marion Crawford who visited Istanbul in 1890’s, writes a lot about street food. In his book, F.M. Crawford mentions food and beverage vendors pushing their straw carts up and down 1890’s Istanbul. Crawford lists these vendors as follows: Bread, pita and biscuit vendors, cheese and yogurt vendors with their round tables, cooks selling kebab (grilled lamb on stick), rice pilaf kept in a huge pot and stuffed zucchini or other vegetables, candy vendors, milk pudding (muhallebi) vendors and sherbet vendors. The American author describes the quality of the street food as follows; “it is impossible not to be amazed by the incredible hygiene of these vendors and the food looks truly breathtaking.
Street vendors and small shops continue to enrich the streets of Istanbul. When you go out on a walk to explore the city, you will undoubtedly get hungry after a while. You don’t need to worry though, because the incredible flavors of Istanbul’s street food are at your service…
What to buy of the street? What are the best street food locations in Istanbul? Let’s take a look together:
Simit is made by forming a ring from bread dough, then covered by ‘pekmez’ (a molasses like syrup) and sesame seeds and baked. First record of this delicious pastry is found in the 16th century. Simit is probably one of the most popular street foods in Istanbul. You can find simit in street vendors or bakeries in every corner of the city from the historic peninsula to Çengelköy and enjoy it together with your tea.
Simit is also very popular among the seagulls chasing the ferries. You can eat simit together with cheese, tomatoes and olives. Even though simit goes really well together with çay, ayran is also a great companion. Simit is a cheap and a delicious way to sate your hunger. It is preferred by both rich and poor alike.
1 simit contains approximately 237kcal.
Balık Ekmek (Fish Sandwich)
If you stop by Eminönü on the shores of the Golden Horn, you will be instantly greeted by the smell of fish emanating from the small boats and restaurants under the Galata Bridge. You are going to love the seasonally fresh fish cooked and served in a sandwich.
Half a fish sandwich contains approximately 550kcal.
You can always find a meatball stand outside of crowded activities like sports games, concerts and festivals. For that tired crowd, even the most expensive meal in the world can’t compete with meatballs. A meatball stand is always busy. Cooked meatballs are put aside and new ones are constantly thrown on to the grill, because meatball sandwiches sell very quickly. You can add onions, chopped lettuce, tomatoes and peppers as well.
Half a meatball sandwich contains approximately 400kcal.
The main ingredient of Kokoreç is lamb’s intestine. Kokoreç is flavoured with onions and various spices and cooked over a coal fire. Kokoreç is especially popular later in the night when people are leaving pubs, taverns or concerts. Kokoreç is probably the tastiest way to eat intestine. It is served as a portion, in a casserole dish or as a sandwich. Kokoreç has a unique culture and probably the best way to eat it is as a sandwich.
Kokoreç has not entered into the European Union food codex and the possibility of a Kokoreç ban is a big concern among the Turkish people. Hygiene is very important when it comes to Kokoreç, therefore you should only eat in places that you trust.
Half a Kokoreç sandwich contains approximately 215kcal
Döner Kebap (Doner Kebab)
Döner is a type of kebab, made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie in front of a wood fire. Döner is very popular throughout the world. Even though döner is traditionally made with red meat, chicken döner is also quite popular. You can add pickles to your döner sandwich, which is a probiotic. The origin of this dish is still being debated among the Turkish and the Greek people.
Half a Döner sandwich contains approximately 556kcal.
Kumpir (Baked Potato)
Kumpir is prepared by grilling potatoes over a fire or baking them in an oven. The potato is then split in half and mixed with butter. You can add a lot of different ingredients in your kumpir such as; olives, sausage, kısır (a bulgur based salad), mayonnaise etc… Kumpir doesn’t have a long history but it is one of the most popular street foods today. The best place to eat kumpir is at Ortaköy which is situated along the Bosphorus.
1 baked potato (without mayonnaise) 774kcal.
Tripe Chorba (İşkembe Çorbası)
Tripe chorba is a soup made with tripe (animal stomach). Usually tripe is made with cattle or sheep stomach. For a long time, tripe has been a food for the lower class and was never present in the Ottoman court kitchen. Today, it is a very special soup that is present in every meal. If you had a little too much to drink and you are craving food in the middle of the night, there is nothing better than Tripe chorba to satisfy your hunger. Add a little vinegar with garlic and your stomach will be renewed.
A bowl of tripe soup contains approximately 278 kcal.
Corn Kebab (Mısır Kebabı)
A piping hot delicacy, boiled or grilled, salted or unsalted. You can find a corn vendor in every corner of Istanbul.
1 corn contains approximately 60 kcal.
Chestnut Kebab (Kestane Kebabı)
An indispensible snack during the winter months, you can find anywhere in Istanbul. Traveling chestnut vendors are very popular among tourists.
150 grams of chestnuts contains approximately 300 kcal.