Istanbul is famous for being a chaotic, always busy metropolis full of arts and culture – a melting pot between the worlds. I could spend weeks wandering the narrow streets, getting soaked in by the energy of the city. People are flowing through the streets, always busy and in a rush. Behind every corner, there is something new to discover. And of course, exploring a new city makes you hungry! And where better to fuel up fresh energy than at one of the many street vendors who sell local specialities?
Street food is an integral part of Istanbul’s culture and many of the more than 15 million inhabitants stop at one of the many street food stalls that you find spread all over the city at each hour of the day (and night). You’ll find delicious treats like stuffed mussels, kibbeh (stuffed deep-fried balls of ground meat and bulgur), or Kumpir (large baked potatoes topped with cheese, yoghurt, veggies, and what else), Kebabs (skewers of meat), and Turkish pastries such as Böreks at almost every corner.
But to be honest, I especially enjoyed the very simple foods. My favourite is probably a freshly made Simit. It is a sesame covered bread. For just 1TL you can get this round bread, which looks like a large, thin bagel. Another favourite of mine is Misir, fresh corn on the cob, which is steamed or grilled. Especially in summer, the city is filled with the smell of burnt corn.
So if you are looking for a quick, cheap way to dive into Instanbul’s food culture, start with the street food – you won’t be disappointed.
Tip: Even if there is so much to see in Istanbul that it is tempting to just grab a bite to eat from one of your favourite street food vendors and move on, take the time every once in a while to sit down and enjoy a cup of sweet, strong Turkish Coffee. Even though it is served in a small, Espresso-sized cup, it is thick with grounds and therefore needs some time to settle. So don’t drink it in a rush!