Here are the 18 best street foods in Istanbul that you must try whenever you visit this enchanting city:
1. Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)
One of the famous street food delicacies in Turkey is Lahmacun. It is commonly known as Turkish Pizza, circular in shape & is prepared from Turkish pita dough. It has meat mince, onions, tomatoes, and parsley toppings. It is a spicy delicacy with flavorful garlic that is extensively available across the city. Notably, it is typically eaten with lunch or dinner. You must not miss a chance to taste a lahmacun cooked on wood. The authentic way to have a lahmacun is by topping it with some lettuce and parsley, squeezing a lemon wedge, and rolling the lahmacun into a wrap to enjoy it.
Average Price: TRY 8
Where to eat: Çıtır Pide Lahmacun Salonu, Türkali Besiktas (Monday-Sunday: 11:00 AM - 4:00 AM); Halil Lahmacun, Caferağa Mah., Kadikoy (Tuesday-Sunday: 11:30 AM -9:00 PM); Beyzade kebap ve lahmacun salonu, İskenderpaşa, Fatih (Monday-Sunday: 11:00 AM - 11:00 PM).
2. Döner Kebab (Rotating Kebab)
Döner Kebab is another famous dish in Istanbul that the locals commonly eat. There are abundant döner shops in the city. This dish is prepared with lamb, chicken, beef, or turkey as the main ingredient. It is gradually roasted via a rotating vertical skewer. Then, the roasted kebab is wrapped in a pita along with some veggies, such as lettuce, tomato, onion, cabbage, sumac, fresh or pickled cucumber, and various types of sauces. More than a quick bite, it has become an average filling fast food in Turkey. Now, this meaty dish is also served as a wholesome lunch or a fancy dinner for people who are seeking something hearty yet healthy on their plate across different meals of the day.
Average Price: Chicken Doner - TRY 10-20; Lamb or Beef Doner - TRY 20-40
Where to eat: Dönerci Şahin Usta, Mollafenari Mah. (Grand Bazaar), Fatih (Monday-Saturday: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM).Most tastiest doner shops are found in Sultanahmet, Besiktas, Eminonu, and Uskudar districts.
3. Kumpir (Baked Potato)
Kumpir is probably one of the favourite local street foods of the teens & students in Istanbul. It is so because this dish is very delicious, economically priced, and a hearty meal. Basically, it is a huge baked potato that is stuffed with butter & grated yellow cheese. The Kumpir has a standard filling of Cheese and butter, but one can add it up with the toppings. It has optional grated toppings, including red cabbage, carrot, corn, black and green olives, boiled mushroom, sausages, Russian salad, pickles, sauce, and mayonnaise.
Average Price: TRY 15-20
Where to eat: Street carts at Ortaköy Square, Beşiktaş; Patatos, Tomtom, Beyoğlu (Monday-Sunday: 8:30 AM until late).
4. Cag KebabCag kebab is a horizontally stacked lamb kebab, unlike the vertically roasted doner kebab. Cag kebab is cooked on a rotating spit, and then the meat is shaved off the pit and served to customers. Often, this kebab is stacked on a bico (a smaller skewer) when it is served. It is typically served with a piece of flatbread and dips. Notably, it tastes delicious when you have it with ezme sauce. The Cag kebab is zestier than a regular kebab because its meat is typically marinated in flavoursome Turkish spices.
Average Price: TRY 5-15
Where to eat: Sehzade Cag Kebap, Hoca Pasa, Fatih (Monday-Saturday: 10:30 AM - 10:30 PM; Zubeyir Restaurant, Şehit Muhtar Mahallesi, Beyoğlu (Monday-Sunday: 11:00 AM until late).
Another popular spicy street food in Istanbul is Tantuni, which is prepared with julienned lamb or beef. The lamb or beef is stir-fried in sunflower oil on a thin metal pan (a Turkish sac) utilized for cooking at a high temperature. Traditionally, Tantuni was cooked with tender beef or steak, but today there is a cheaper version of it made with chicken. After cooking the meat nicely, they wrap it in a lavash with chopped veggies like skinless tomatoes, onions, and parsley.
Average Price: TRY 20
Where to eat: Suat Usta Mersin Tantuni, Katip Mustafa Çelebi, Beyoğlu (Monday-Thursday: 11:00 AM & Friday-Sunday: 12:00 PM until late. Kadıköy Tantuni, Osmanağa, Kadıköy Backstreet (Monday-Sunday: 11:40 AM - 10:00 PM).
6. Dürüm (Wraps)
Dürüm is a Turkish wrap that generally has a filling of Adana kebab, Urfa kebab, Döner kebab, çiğ köfte, çöp şiş, or chicken shish. Turkish people like different kinds of wraps. You can find various dürüms in Istanbul. Notably, Adana dürüm (a spicier variation) and Urfa dürüm are two of the most liked ones. These are prepared with lamb or beef mince, with lamb tail fat to make it juicy and flavourful. The mince is skewered and cooked on a charcoal grill. Then, it is served as a wrap with onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and parsley. The wrapping is Lavash or yufka flatbreads.
Average Price: TRY 9-14
Where to eat: Dürüm Sarayi, Altayçeşme, Maltepe (Monday-Sunday: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM; Çilgin Dürüm, Taksim Mah. (Monday-Sunday: 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM), Dürümzade, Hüseyinağa Mah., Beyoglu (Monday-Sunday: Open 24 hours).
7. Börek (Baked Savoury Pastry/Pie)
There are different types of börek available across Istanbul, some are the specialities of the Sarıyer and Karaköy neighbourhoods. One can easily spot börek shops anywhere. The ideal time of the day to get it is from morning to noon. Typically, the Turkish folks eat Börek as breakfast. It is a baked puff pastry or shortcrust dough that embraces several fillings, including cheese, ground meat, spinach, and other veggies. This can be your go-to option for a quick Turkish breakfast.
Average Price: TRY 5
Where to eat: Karakoy Gulluoglu, Karaköy Güllüoğlu Shopping Centre, Kemankeş Cad. (Monday-Saturday: 7:00 AM - 12:00 AM, Sunday: 8:00 AM - 12:00 AM); Tarihi Yeniköy Börekçisi, Yeniköy, Köybaşı Cd. (Monday-Sunday: 6:00 AM - 9:00 PM).
8. Tavuklu Nohutlu Pilav (Rice & Chicken)
Another favourite Turkish dishes is rice. Although rice is a staple food of the locals and is cooked in every home, you will also find street vendors selling scrumptious bowls of Tavuk Nohutlu Pilav, which is rice with boiled chicken and chickpeas. Tavuk Nohutlu Pilav is Turkish buttery-flavoured rice that is different from Asian-style plain steamed rice. You can spot this dish on every street corner, specifically around commercial areas & shops. Many street carts or restaurants sell this delicious, cheap, satisfying street food.
Average Price: TRY 10-20
Where to eat: Tarihi Kalkanoğlu Pilavcısı, Kuloğlu Mah., Beyoğlu (Monday-Saturday: 11:30 AM - 9:00 PM); Baruthane Pilavcısı Şişli, Ferikoy, Şişli (Monday-Sunday: open 24 hours)
9. Kokoreç (Grilled Lamb Intestines)
Kokoreç is another delicacy in the list of well-known street foods in Istanbul. This dish has grilled sheep intestines outside, and the middle white part in Kokoreç is sheep fat. It is finely chopped and mixed with spices like pepper, oregano, salt, and sometimes fresh tomato. Then, it is served with bread as a sandwich. Though not everyone can eat this dish, throngs of local folks love to eat this classic street food. Notably, it is not cheap as other street foods and is considered a delicacy superior to typical street food. If you love offal dishes, you should definitely try this.
Average Price: TRY 15
Where to eat: Şampiyon Kokoreç Franchise, Etimesgut/Beyoğlu/Çankaya (Monday-Sunday: 10:00 AM - 4:00 AM); Kral Kokoreç Sirkeci, Hobyar, Fatih (Monday-Sunday: 8:45 AM - 8:30 PM).
10. Islak Burger (Wet Burger)
The steamed burgers of Istanbul contrast to other burgers you had before. Soft white buns with garlic & tomato sauce and a beef patty are left to sweat inside a steam box. The Islak burgers are kept this way, i.e., slightly wet, till they are served to a customer. More longer they are streamed, the tastier they turn out. These wet burgers are convenient to eat and are a preferable option after drinking or partying late.
Average Price: TRY 3-6
Where to eat: Visitors can find lots of corner shops selling wet burgers around the Taksim sq area.
11. İçli Köfte (Stuffed Meatballs)
Icli kofte is an authentic Turkish appetizer or main meal found on the streets in Istanbul. This dish is becoming more of a delicacy at restaurants in Turkey because it is often difficult for the cooks to make this recipe with its unique taste. İçli Köfte are balls of dough. A mix of potato, fine bulgur, and spices used to make the outer shell and filling is prepared from lamb or beef mince. These balls are boiled or grilled. You can have them served hot or cold, any time of the day.
Average Price: TRY 10-20
Where to eat: Konak Restaurant, Antakya (Monday - Sunday: 10:00 AM - 11:00 PM); Bitlisli, Hoca Pasa, Fatih (Monday - Sunday: 11:00 AM - 10:30 PM).
12. Menemen (Turkish Scrambled Eggs)
Another commonly eaten breakfast dish in the city of Istanbul is Menemen. It is comparable to soupy scrambled eggs. The traditional Menemen recipe involves eggs, tomatoes, green bell peppers, and olive oil. It also has a seasoning of ground black pepper and may comprise chopped onion. Typically, the dish is served with a large freshly-prepared Turkish bread. So, it can be a filling breakfast or a light lunch.
Average Price: TRY 7 - 30
Where to eat: Lades Menemen, Katip Mustafa Çelebi, Beyoglu (Monday-Sunday: 7:00 AM - 11:00 PM); Privato Cafe, Şahkulu, Beyoglu (Monday-Saturday: 8:30 AM - 11:00 PM & Sunday: 9:00 AM - 11:00 PM).
13. Simit, Çatal, Acma
Simit, also known as a Turkish bagel, is a circular bread coated with sesame. Simit, çatal, and açma are almost similar kinds of pastries. Çatal is more crumbly and dry than Simit, whereas Açma is softer and more like a croissant. People commonly have Simit in the morning, and you can find them at bakeries, street carts, or peddlers in bustling areas throughout the day. You can find the fresh Simit early in the morning. This bread can be eaten with or without spreads, but you can also try them with Turkish tea or any Turkish cheese as a traditional and flavoursome breakfast.
Average Price: TRY 1.50-2.50
Where to eat: Simit Sarayi Bakeries are spread across the city; Simit carts are also there outside the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia in Sultanahmet to İstiklal Avenue.
14. Balık Ekmek (Grilled Fish Sandwich)
One of the dishes that every visitor (except vegetarians) should try in Istanbul is Balık ekmek. It is a grilled fish sandwich that is among the best street foods in the city. It has grilled mackerel, onions, and fresh lettuce in 6-inch sandwich bread. It tastes delicious with a few drops of lemon juice, but be careful of the fish bones. Most of the vendors & restaurants in the city prepare these sandwiches from Norwegian mackerel fish. We suggest that you should have your Balık Ekmek from one of the boats on Eminönü shore instead of visiting a restaurant. Those sellers cook it on their boats. Notably, local folks enjoy pickle juice or turnip juice with this dish.
Average Price: TRY 10-15
Where to eat: Beykoz Balık Ekmek, Gümüşsuyu, Beykoz (Monday - Sunday: 12:00 PM - 11:30 PM); Street food stalls along the Bosphorus in Eminönü and Galata Bridge area.
15. Midye Tava (Fried Mussels)
Midye Tava is a crispy snack in Turkey that is served on sticks. Many street vendors and restaurants across Istanbul sell this dish. This is specifically famous in seaside regions, such as Beşiktaş, Kadıköy, Kumkapı, and Ortaköy. In this, mussels are fried in a large metal pan filled with hot oil. It is served with a tangy tarator sauce dip prepared with walnuts, olive oil, bread crumbs, strained yoghurt, fresh lemon juice, grated garlic, and salt. You can enjoy these Midye Tava on the stick or in a sandwich for a better satisfying meal.
Average Price: TRY 3-5
Where to eat: Midyeci Ahmet, Yıldız Mah., Beşiktaş (Monday - Sunday: 11:00 AM - 5:00 AM); Midyeci Yasin Kadıköy, Caferağa, Moda Cd, Kadıköy (Monday - Sunday: 11:00 AM - 2:00 AM).
16. Kestane Kebab (Roasted Chestnuts)
Kestane Kebab is probably the simplest form of street food on this list. It is simply the chestnuts roasted on a grill without scraping their skin. The chestnut kebab is excellent street food in Istanbul and is also healthy. Few people may find its taste bland, but it is a classic snack that is one of the favourites of Turkish people who used to cook them in wood-fired ovens earlier. These are available at any time of the day. Specifically, during the winter & fall season, chestnuts will be fresh & tasty. This time the streets are full of carts or peddlers selling hot roasted Kestane Kebab.
Average Price: TRY 10-25 for 200 grams
Where to eat: Main tourist areas - around the Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet; next to the Bosphorous along the promenade in Eminönü.
17. Halka Tatlısi (Ring-Shaped Dessert)
The next dish (specifically a dessert) we have on our list of best street foods is Halka tatlisi. It is available in all corners of the city. When you feel tired exploring the streets of Istanbul, this delicacy offers a boost of energy. This delectable dessert is prepared with a simple recipe. The dough of Halka Tatlısı is deep-fried and then dipped into the sugar syrup and left to cool down. This way, a crispy and super sweet street dessert gets ready.
Average Price: TRY 15 - 25
Where to eat: Tatlıcı Safa Sirkeci, Hobyar, Fatih (Monday to Sunday: 8:30 AM - 12:30 AM)
Baklava is another sweet delicacy among the street foods of Istanbul. It can be easily found at any bakery, neighbourhood store, or supermarket. To prepare Baklava, a filo pastry is nicely stuffed with dried fruits & nuts. Sugar Syrup or honey is used to hold the pastry and its stuffing together, which makes it quite a sticky dish. This dish is available in different versions like pistachio baklava, walnut baklava, royal rolls, & more. You must try at least one and can buy a single serving or per kilo.
Average Price: TRY 50- TRY 210
Where to eat: Karaköy Güllüoğlu, Kemankeş Cad. (Monday - Saturday: 7:00 AM - 12:00 AM, Sunday - 8:00 AM - 12:00 AM).