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Here's Where To Find The Best Food In Istanbul, Turkey
When I first arrived in Turkey, I must admit I was not immediately impressed with the food in Istanbul. Turkish food consists of a lot of grilled meats and vegetables, and relies on the natural flavor of the food. So, for someone coming from the States who is used to an abundance of various seasonings, my taste buds were crying out for more.
As it turns out, however, delicious food does indeed exist in Istanbul; you just have to know where to find it. Luckily, I had scheduled a food tour with one of With Locals‘ top-rated Istanbul tour guides, Sözüm Dila Metin, who took me around the city and showed me the spots with the best food.
Balık Dürüm Mehmet Usta
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One of the most delicious things I ate while in Turkey was a balik dürüm (fish wrap) from Balık Dürüm Mehmet Usta. The wrap consists of tender, juicy grilled mackerel, a fresh mix of veggies, and can be made as spicy as you can handle it.
“The owner of this place started out as a food truck, which eventually grew so popular he opened this restaurant,” said Sözüm. “Now, many people try to imitate his style of fish wrap, but his is the original and the best.”
Don’t even think about visiting Turkey and not trying the baklava. As a baklava lover, the pastry was one of the things I was most looking forward to. I’d heard that Karaköy Güllüoğlu had the best baklava, and I was not disappointed.
The place was quite busy, with multiple counters to serve the thralls of locals and tourists alike, all there for a honey-soaked, flaky, nutty piece of heaven. The shop offers a variety of baklava types, which can also be conveniently vacuum sealed for your plane ride home.
Family run kebab house Asmalımescit Dürümcüsü is famous for its flavorful dürüms (wraps.) However, should you find yourself here, do not miss the opportunity to sample their selection of mezes.
These appetizers consist of small plates such as various flavored humuses, tabbule (a bulgur-based salad), or the eggplant-based babagannus. These can be enjoyed alone or atop a flatbread. If you’re a fan of the ayran yogurt drink, Asmalımescit Dürümcüsü’s is also said to be among the best in the city.
Midye dolma (stuffed mussels) are a favorite street and beach food in Turkey, and after one taste, it’s easy to see why. The mussels are stuffed with a savory blend of rice, herbs, and spices and I simply couldn’t get enough of them.
“You don’t want to get them from just anywhere though,” says Sozum. “You take off the top shell, squeeze the lemon juice over the mussel, and use the shell as a spoon to scoop it into your mouth.”
Midyeci Ahmet AKA the Lord of Mussels is one of the best places to go in Istanbul for stuffed mussels. Coming from a family in the mussel business, Chef Ahmet began selling mussels at seven years old and built his brand up to now having over a dozen different locations across Turkey.
There are many places in Istanbul selling lokum AKA Turkish delight. However, Haci Bekir has been making the famed delectable confections since 1777 and has maintained its reputation as the leading Turkish delight brand by using the same recipes throughout the years.
The mouthwatering treats come in a variety of flavors, such as rose and lemon, coffee, pomegranate and pistachio, cinnamon, mint, orange, and hazelnut.