Food in all its delicious forms is definitely one of Istanbul’s biggest attractions. The lively, loud and energetic city has something for everyone, from high-end restaurants to small carts selling roasted nuts or questionable seafood on the streets.
For me personally, Istanbul is all about that street food. Being caught between two continents gives Istanbul a unique edge as their local traditions mix with elements from European, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine very delightfully and deliciously. With baklava, lokum and kebab sold everywhere, each street corner seems like a culinary paradise just waiting to be discovered. Even the mystery meat sandwiches sold from the back of dingy vans on dirty back alleys are incredibly delicious!
About that mystery meat sandwich… It really was one of the best things I ate when I was last in Istanbul. I know suspicious vans on questionable dark alleys may not say delicious meal right off the bat, but trust me. The white van, usually parked in the corner of Adnan Sokak and Süslü Saksı streets, right off Taksim Square, is a must for any true foodie in Istanbul!
Istanbul is a city full of opposites where traditions and modern life exist side by side
Istanbul’s trendy Karaköy is one of the best spots for a food tour of Istanbul
As far as I’m concerned, Istanbul is the #1 foodie destination in the entire world. I could easily list a hundred favorites from the city’s street food scene without pausing. Every turn you take seems to bring a new wonderful café, bakery or street stall selling delightfully delicious moments of happiness.
The streets are literally teeming with sweet and savory treats such as dürüm, döner kebabs, shish tavuk and many many others… Even the air in Istanbul seems to be filled with appetizing aromas, luring you from one street food stall to the next.
My favorite sweet treat in Istanbul is definitely the künefe, a crispy grated filo dough filled with a creamy, stretchy cheese and dipped in syrup, often finished off with crushed pistachios and served with clotted cream. It may sound weird, but it’s amazing.
Turkish Delight or lokum and endless varieties of baklava also offer authentic Turkish flavors. I especially love the chocolate baklava, somewhat a rarity, but readily available at the spice souk and some of the biggest baklava bakeries.
If we’re being totally honest, even bad baklava is pretty great. You can’t go wrong with crispy filo dough, sweet honey syrup and roasted nuts. Still, Turkish baklava is a step above the rest, easily among the best on the planet.
The most important thing is to get fresh baklava, made with first class ingredients. Variations are endless, but my favorite is the simple traditional pistachio baklava. Istanbul’s best baklava is made at Seyidoğlu on Sıraselviler Caddesi.
Many stalls in the city serve tasty fresh-squeezed juices
The variety of street foods is nearly endless
Börek is one of my favorites of Turkish cuisine
Very few destinations have impacted me as strongly as Istanbul. The city is full of incredible treasures and exciting adventures, and not all of them are even limited to eating – although that’s definitely the best thing to do there. So go to Istanbul and discover a world of tastes and experiences.
Just make sure to try everything the city has to offer!