6 foods you must try in Istanbul

Hi Frugalistas!  My recent post on the Culinary Backstreets Istanbul Eats walk I took in Istanbul really struck a chord with readers.  So many comments and so much discussion!  The food and drink I’ve featured on my Instagram account (you can catch up with frugalfirstclasstravel on Istagram at the right hand side of this screen) has also generated a lot of discussion.  So what are my favorite Turkish foods?

1.  Street food

Whether it’s a fresh simit (a bread knot similar to a German bretzel, coated in sesame seeds), a pomegranate juice squeezed while you wait, or a fish sandwich from a vendor round the Galata Bridge, street food is cheap, tasty and easy to buy.

2.  Turkish coffee

A thick syrupy Turkish coffee is a must try for anyone who loves a caffeine fix.  Unlike the coffee you are more familiar with, Turkish coffee is not drunk at breakfast.  Rather it is served later in the day, to be savoured and enjoyed.  My favorite choices?  Mandabatmaz just off Istiklal St in Beyoglu for coffee, coffee and just coffee, or Café Fez in the Grand Bazaar for the Rolls Royce, complete with Turkish Delight, almond delight and water to sip, all served on a perfect silver salver.

3.  Turkish preserves

Turkish preserves are a mainstay of a typical Turkish breakfast.  More like stewed fruit in a very thick syrup than a true jam, these are a must try from the breakfast buffet.

4.  A kebab

Whether it’s a doner kebab from a street stall or takeaway, or one from a café where the meat is cooked over coals, the Turkish kebab is quite different to the kebab you have at home.  Enjoy!

5.  Baklava

You see them everywhere – those sticky, sweet syrupy cakes made with phyllo pastry and nuts.  Available in so many flavours and styles, it would take an extended stay to try them all.  And the best part?  They also come in take home packs!

6.  Lokum

You may know this better as Turkish Delight.  But that pink, jelly like, rosewater flavoured confection bears no resemblance to real Turkish lokum.  Available in so many flavours, with and without nuts, this is also a must try regardless of your previous experience.  When you visit the lokum shop my tip is to study the different varieties on sale, then ask for a taste of your favorites before you buy.  Make your choice, and then buy by weight.

There is so much I haven’t covered here.  Dips, yoghurt, and Ottoman cuisine are all worthy of your time and taste buds.  Enjoy fabulous local fish (tasty and cheap), Turkish ice cream, and, for the more adventurous, why not go the pickles I spoke about last time?

If you’ve been to Turkey, what food would you recommend?

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11 Comments on “6 foods you must try in Istanbul”

  1. alifemoment 16/05/2014 at 5:05 am #

    Delicious, I love Turkish food! 🙂

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 17/05/2014 at 7:12 am #

      Glad you approve! What I love is how even humble street food is so tasty, and a simple coffee is elevated to an art form. Thanks for dropping by!

      • alifemoment 17/05/2014 at 7:27 am #

        You are welcome!
        Best wishes,

  2. mjcolbert 17/05/2014 at 3:27 am #

    This all sounds delicious! I hope I get to visit Turkey someday soon!

  3. fotoeins 18/05/2014 at 12:08 pm #

    I am fascinated by what the Turk minority is doing and making by way of food in Germany; I’ve rarely had a bad thing throughout the country. It’s a reason why I must go to Istanbul to compare and contrast … you know … for the purposes of research. 😛

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 18/05/2014 at 4:40 pm #

      Hi Henry, there is a Turkish and Lebanese minority in Sydney too, that carved a niche with their food – a takeaway kebab is now a commonly available choice, as well the cakes and restaurant foods. I have to say, what I had in Istanbul was definitely better – so enjoy your research!

  4. thebritishberliner 19/05/2014 at 5:05 pm #

    Looks delightful. I live in Berlin so we’re very lucky to have Turkish food on our doorstep!

    • frugalfirstclasstravel 19/05/2014 at 7:06 pm #

      Yes, we have plenty of it in Sydney too, but like most things they are always better in their natural habitat!

  5. themauritiangeographer 26/02/2015 at 6:31 pm #

    I’d add çiğ köfte, another “street food” of Turkey which is fine bulgur in tomato paste and sometimes nuts served usually as a tortilla with pomegranate sauce – one of my faves and kumpir, a jacket potato-like meal with more toppings that you can imagine. 😉

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