10 Street Food Snacks and Drinks To Try in Istanbul

When you are walking along the bustling streets of Istanbul, you’ll be amazed by the variety of foods you can try. Below you’ll find 10 treats that you just can’t miss out on!

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Let’s get started!

Number 1: Scream For Turkish Ice-cream

Now we’ve all had ice creams in our lives, but have you tried the Turkish “Dondurma”? It is a little different to the western version, as it is creamy and sticky due to the “Mastic” in its recipe, but that makes it no less delicious. The best part is that instead of just placing a boring scoop into a cone and handing it over, in Turkey you’ll be treated to an experience that involves tricks and laughs.

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Number 2: Turkish Delight “Lokum”

As children most of us read the Chronicles of Narnia and always wondered: Why on earth did Edmund sell out his family and Aslan for Turkish Delight? Now we know why. It is chewy, sweet, and comes in such a variety of colors, textures and tastes, and dates back to the 1700’s. What is there not to love about it? I highly suggest you check out Efezade shop near the Hagia Sophia. It has a rating of 4.5 in TripAdvisor, and you’ll not just be impressed by the selection but you also get an insight into how its made!

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Number 3: Kunefe

Cheesy? Crispy? Baked? Now I’ve got your attention! This dessert made from kadayif, a traditional shredded wheat and topped with pistachio is drool-worthy. It is best eaten on a rainy or cold day, especially since it is served hot out of the oven. It is believed to have originated from a southern Turkish province called Hatay, and guess what – they are even seeking to register it for an official European Union trademark. Interesting eh?

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Number 4: Börek

These pastries made of a thin flaky dough known as phyllo or in Turkish, “yufka”, were extremely popular during the Ottoman Empire and now have become a staple food. As you explore the street shops of Istanbul, you’ll find numerous varieties with different fillings but the one I most commonly spotted were those with cheese and spinach.

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Number 5: Gözleme 

Now in the evenings you may just want to relax and grab a bite to eat – what better than the delicious hand-rolled Turkish crepes? The best part is that you can even watch live how it is made with the filling of your choice. I would seriously suggest checking out the Han restaurant near Hagia Sophia. Very beautiful interiors, friendly staff and a great overall experience!

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Number 6: Ayran

At the same Han restaurant we also got ourselves a yummy drink to go with our Gözleme. It is a cold, salty yogurt drink called Ayran that is said to have originated with the nomadic tribes prior to 1000 AD. It is so famous, that it even has been promoted as the national drink by the President Erdogan.

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Number 7: Baklava

If you are interested in something sweet, rich, made of filo layers, filled with delicious nuts and held together with honey or a syrup, you need to make a bee line for Baklava. While the origin of this multicultural sweet is highly disputed, all that matters is that it is widely loved. There is even a National Baklava Day on November 17th! Can you believe it?

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Number 8: Tulumba

Now for all of you foodies out there, I’m sure you must’ve tried Jalebi’s or Churro’s at some point in your life. Their cousin is the “Tulumba” from Turkey. It is a fried batter soaked in syrup, and was very popular in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire. You’ll find it in most street food stalls, and don’t worry, you don’t need to get your hands sticky. They come in perfect small cups, with a pick, and for less than a Euro each!

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Number 9: Dondurmalı İrmik Helvası

One of the most interesting dessert combinations I found while exploring Istanbul was the Dondurmali Irmik Helvasi, which basically refers to a cold ice-cream hidden within a hot Semolina Halva. I did a little bit of research and found out that this form of Halva is very symbolic in Turkey especially since it signifies good fortune. It is made during religious Islamic occasions, when people are moving houses, and even offered to the family members of someone who may have passed away. Did you know this?

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Number 10: Fish Sandwiches at the Galata Bridge

No doubt that this bridge is an iconic place in Istanbul – it is vibrant, bustling and a local favourite. Many come here to take a cruise around the Bosphorus, to go fishing, or to simply enjoy fresh seafood. One of the highlights are the floating restaurant boats that have set up a small kitchen to fry fresh fish and serve it in a hot tasty bread.

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