Having served as an iconic city throughout history, Istanbul has been a central component of the global food and spice trade for thousands of years, and nothing makes that more obvious than stepping inside a food market or restaurant in Istanbul.
Incredibly varied, historically interesting, and very delicious, the best food in Istanbul pulls influences from all over the world and melds it into a food scene that is truly unique.
If you’re heading to Istanbul and are ready to excite your taste buds, here are some of the foods you should eat.
Similar to a bagel or pretzel, this chewy, round bread is covered in sesame seeds and is one of the most popular street food snacks in Istanbul. You’ll find simit carts on nearly every corner in the city!
Turkish meatballs are incredibly popular, you’ll find a plate of them on nearly every menu. In Turkey, Köfte is usually made from lamb, beef or a combination of both types of meat, and is served with grilled peppers, spicy sauce, and usually bread or rice.
Istanbul may not be much of a beach city, but it’s definitely a coastal one, and the popularity of seafood among food in Istanbul definitely shows that. Izgara Balık is fresh grilled fish, usually served whole.
Often inaccurately described as Turkish pizza, lahmacun is made up of a thin piece of dough, topped with minced meat, spices, and vegetables. Lahmacun is a popular street food and is often consumed by rolling it up and eating it like a taco.
Lahmacun is described as Turkish pizza. Pide is Turkish pizza! Cooked in an oval-shaped dough that is folded to hold the ingredients and topped with cheese, meat, and vegetables, it’s essentially a Turkish version of deep-dish pizza, minus the tomato sauce.