With its mixture of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences and its bountiful fresh produce, it’s no surprise that Istanbul has established itself as a mecca for foodies from across the globe. From tender, perfectly spiced kebabs to indulgent sweet pastries, the diversity of potential food to eat is mind boggling. This popular vacation spot is perfect for a culinary tour, and if you want to know what to eat while you’re there, look at this rundown of some of the city’s best culinary offerings.
Food To Eat in Istanbul
4 Savoury Delights
For meat lovers, no trip to Istanbul is complete without at least one portion of köfte. These minced lamb meatballs pack a real flavour punch. Containing mixed spices, herbs and onions, they can be served by themselves, in a sandwich, with salad or rice but arguably the best of all versions, is in a dish with tomato sauce.
Another culinary highlight is börek. A type of pastry, these flaky delights feature a variety of fillings. A popular option is feta cheese, but meat, potato and spinach versions are also a hit among residents and visitors alike. These satisfying creations are particularly good as a snack or food to go.
Balik ekmek is a must-try too. Roughly translated as ‘fish bread’, this is popular street food and the ideal place is the floating fish boats sitting at the end of Galata Bridge. They consist of succulent mackerel fillets, which are flash grilled, salted and sprinkled with red pepper before being placed in a bread roll, then served with onion, lettuce and lemon juice for added texture and flavour.
If you find yourself in the Taksim area, an item to try, especially after a night partying is the “Taksim wet burger.” This unusual concept is wet bread laced with tomato and garlic sauce as well as the standard meat slab. As unappetizing as it sounds, the burger does a roaring trade with both locals and foreign visitors. Labelled as the “Islak burger”, you will normally find them in steamed glass cabinets.
2 Sweet Desserts
Thanks to its tantalizing taste and texture, baklava has become a popular dessert worldwide but it’s still worth ordering these indulgent pastry creations while in Istanbul, because you will get the real deal.
Made using seemingly endless layers of filo pastry and chopped nuts, and held together with sticky honey or syrup, these delicacies may not be good for your waistline, but they’re certainly a treat for the senses.
Locals say the two best places to buy Baklava in Istanbul are Karakoy Gulluoglu and Gaziantepli Köskeroglu. The latter is more significant because the Southeastern city of Gaziantep is considered the home of the original baklava with its filling of pistachio nuts.
Another indulgent dessert is künefe. This dish of cheese pastry soaked in syrup is often served with fresh fruit. Whichever dishes you sample, be sure to wash them down with lashings of sweet Turkish coffee. Simmered slowly over a low heat, this rich, powerful drink is perfect if your energy levels are starting to ebb. It packs a punch that is stronger than red bull!