There are many types of travelers when it comes to traveling foodies. While some people prefer dining at the finest, five-star restaurants wherever they go, others enjoy simpler cuisine. Instead of flocking to more traditional food spots, many travelers are seeking out the best street food to indulge in. 

Istanbul has a unique street food culture worth experiencing on a trip to Turkey. From delicious desserts to hot entrees cooked right before your eyes, street food in Istanbul is a special, unexpected treat. Here’s a guide to street food culture in Istanbul, where to find it, and what dishes to taste before heading back home.

Turkish Street Food

street food in Istanbul
Photo credit: Vernon Raineil Cenzon

The food culture in Istanbul is delightful wherever travelers choose to eat. There are many top restaurants serving Turkish food to try traditional favorites and more Western-inspired cuisine. However, the real treat is street food in Istanbul. 

Turkish food is extremely diverse. Most of it is inspired by a merger of European, Mediterranean, and Asian food styles. The result is a melting pot of delicious flavors rooted in spices and rich ingredients. There are many dishes to experience while wandering the streets of Istanbul, but first, travelers need to know where to find them.

Where To Find It 

Street food in Istanbul can be found on every corner of the city. It’s the best way to dine like a local and truly experience authentic Turkish cuisine. Travelers will see food vendors in little booths lined along the streets and on corners. In some neighborhoods, you’ll also find storefronts housing some of the best eats in Istanbul. 

One popular dish in Istanbul is Balik Ekmek. This Turkish fish sandwich is a beloved treat amongst locals and is best found at vendors near the Galata Bridge. The bridge connects the Karakoy and Eminonu neighborhoods and fishermen are there daily to catch fresh fish. Travelers will find Balik Ekmek and other street food vendors near the bridge any day of the week. 

Taksim Square is a popular tourist area in Istanbul. Not far from the square, travelers will find Istiklal Street. This is a go-to place for street food in Istanbul. Another place you’ll find an abundance of street food in Istanbul is the Misir Carsisi Spice Market. There are sweet corn stalls in the squares of Kadikoy, historic kebab shops near the Grand Bazaar, and Turkish bakeries in Cihangir.

What To Try 

street food in Istanbul
Photo credit: Midye dolma

When visiting Istanbul, don’t limit yourself when it comes to exploring the city’s diverse street food culture. Trying the kebabs from vendors is a must when experiencing the cuisine. You’ll also find shops and vendors selling the Islak Hamburger, a Turkish pizza called lahmacun, and baked flaky goods like börek and simit or “Turkish bagels.”

Seafood lovers should be sure to try midye dolma. This street food in Istanbul includes mussels stuffed with rice, nuts, and currants. Other incredible treats to try depends on what you have a taste for, but the list of foods and dishes to try when venturing through Istanbul is endless.