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Istanbul street food

Istanbul is one of my favorite cities in Europe. It’s not just its beautiful sights and culture that you come to explore. I visited the city for 3 days and tried almost all the amazing street food.

Writing this article made me super hungry. And I’m sorry if reading further makes you starving, too. At least it’ll put Istanbul on the top of your travel bucket list (hopefully).

Based on my experience eating all over Istanbul, I’ve compiled a list of the 21 famous street foods in Istanbul you can’t miss when visiting the city. I’ve also included places where you have to try them.

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List Of The 21 Famous Istanbul Street Foods You Must Try

One of the best things to do in Istanbul is to try delicious local foods and products. Whether you do it on your own or join a food tour, you’ll have a great experience. It’ll help you get to know the local culture deeper.

So here you have the list of the 21 best street foods to try during your visit in Istanbul:

  1. Dönner Kebab
  2. Testi Kebab
  3. Ali Nazik Kebab
  4. Shish Kebab
  5. Köfte
  6. Balik Ekmek
  7. Islak Burger
  8. Kokoretsi
  9. Dolma
  10. Midye Dolma
  11. Manti
  12. Menemen
  13. Meze
  14. Kumpir
  15. Çiğ Köfte
  16. Lahmacun
  17. Börek
  18. Gözleme
  19. Turkish Pide
  20. Baklava
  21. Lokum

1. Dönner Kebab

I believe every single person in the world knows Dönner Kebab. But maybe just a few people know you can find some of the best Kebabs in Istanbul, Turkey. And you can also try various types of Kebab.

Dönner Kebab is a meat baked on a rotisserie and shaved into slices. It is served in a bread with various toppings such as onion, tomato, cucumber, and cabbage and topped with a dressing you choose.

WHERE TO TRY: Hoca Pasa Street & Istiklal Avenue

Istanbul street food Doner Kebab
Doner Kebab

2. Testi Kebab

Testi Kebab is a Turkish specialty from the Anatolian region (e.g. Cappadocia). It’s a kebab meat prepared in a clay pot. In Turkish, Testi means a jug, so that’s how this Kebab is cooked. It’s also served in a pot with potatoes and vegetables like onions, garlic, celery, and carrots.

Sometimes, you can also see the name Pottery Kebab, and that’s because Cappadocia is famous for pottery workshops.

WHERE TO TRY: Old Ottoman Cafe & Restaurant & Istanbul Testi Kebab House

3. Ali Nazik Kebab

Alinazik Kebab is another delicious Turkish dish coming from the south. It’s a sauteed lamb stew with smoked and spiced eggplant puree and yogurt. It comes with rice and grilled vegetables, usually red/yellow bell peppers.

This dish got its name when one of the sultans from the Ottoman Empire came to visit Gaziantep city (in southern Turkey), and locals served him this dish. The Sultan loved it and asked: Who’s “gentle hands” made it? Ali Nazik translates to “gentle hands,” which is how the dish got its name.

WHERE TO TRY: Hoca Pasa Street

Ali Nazik Kebab
Ali Nazik Kebab

👉 READ ALSO: Best Of Istanbul Itinerary: 3 Days With Tips

4. Shish Kebab

Do you fancy even more Kebab? Try Shish Kebab, grilled lamb with spices on skewers. The key is to marinate the meat for as long as possible to get the best flavor. It’s usually served with grilled vegetables (red and yellow bell pepper, tomato, or mushrooms). It also comes with rice, potatoes, or lettuce.

WHERE TO TRY: Hoca Pasa Street

Shish Kebab

5. Köfte

Köfte in Turkey means meatballs. I don’t know about you, but I always get confused about meatballs. Sweds claim it’s their national dish, but then you travel to Scandinavia, and other places have it, too. And then you explore Turkey, and meatballs come to your table again.

So let’s just say it’s a popular dish for many countries, including Turkey and the Middle East. This popular dish in Istanbul is made from minced (beef or lamb) meat combined with bread crumbs, garlic, onion, and spices.

It’s typical for Turkey and Istanbul to serve it with delicious bread and local Turkish yogurt.

WHERE TO TRY: Hoca Pasa Street & Gedikli Köfte-Grill & Köfteci Yaşar

Turkish kofte

6. Balik Ekmek

If you can’t choose what to try in Istanbul and are like me (you don’t want to walk overly full every day during your visit), I highly recommend trying Balik Ekmek. It’s a traditional fish sandwich famous for Istanbul.

The best place to try it for experience is Eminönü, where you can get it from locals on a boat. They catch it and prepare it fresh on demand. Don’t forget to order the pickled juice with it.

However, a more delicious version (in a wrap) is served in Karaköy, Istanbul, in a small shop called Sokak Lezzeti. I think they have the best Balik Ekmek in the entire city.

WHERE TO TRY: Eminönü & Sokak Lezzeti in Karakoy

7. Islak Burger

Islak Burger is one of the most surprising street foods I tried in Istanbul. I don’t know whether I would try it if I wasn’t traveling with my partner. But it positively surprised me.

This burger is traditional for Istanbul; it’s a soaked bun in a ketch-up-like sauce made with tomato paste, garlic, and paprika. The rest is like a normal burger, but since it’s submerged in the sauce, it completely melts in your mouth and brings a whole new experience to your burger meal. It’s also called as the wet burger.

WHERE TO TRY: Bambi Cafe Sirkeci (Hobyar, Hamidiye Cd. 20/A)

Turkish Islak Burger
Islak Burger

8. Kokoretsi

Kokoretsi is another traditional Turkish dish, lamb offal wrapped in lamb intestines. It’s usually chopped into smaller pieces and served in a piece of bread. I must say, I really didn’t like this dish, so you have to try and see for yourself. But it’s, unfortunately, the least favorite street food in Istanbul.

WHERE TO TRY: Eminönü Gala Kokoreç

kokoretsi kebab
Kokoretsi kebab

👉 READ ALSO: What Is Istanbul Known For: 21 Great Reasons To Visit

9. Dolma

Dolma is closely related to the Ottoman cuisine. It’s a mixture of rice, minced meat, offal, and vegetable wrapped in a leaf. You can often find this dish also in Greece. It’s usually an appetizer or part of Turkish Meze.

WHERE TO TRY: Hoca Pasa Street & Gedikli Köfte-Grill

Turkish dolma
Turkish Dolma

10. Midye Dolma

Another interesting (and delicious) Turkish dish you must try in Istanbul is stuffed blue mussels (Midye Dolma). It’s a popular street food snack made with a mixture of rice, herbs, and spices stuffed into mussel shells.

It’s famous in the coastal cities and you’ll find a lot of it in Istanbul if seafood is your thing. I certainly would look for it, as I’m seafood-obsessed and loved this dish.

WHERE TO TRY: Fishermen’s Market

11. Manti

Manti, also known as Turkish ravioli, is one of my favorite dishes in the country. It’s small dumplings made with flour, potato, and water, topped with delicious garlic yogurt and spiced oil sauce. You can get it pretty much in every restaurant in Istanbul.

WHERE TO TRY: Hoca Pasa Street

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12. Menemen

Menemen is another traditional Turkish dish, often served at breakfast, too. It’s scrambled eggs with tomatoes, tomato sauce, peppers, and onions, often served with warm pita bread. If you’re a vegetarian, you’ll absolutely love this dish. It’s also popular to serve for brunch and part of the Turkish breakfast.

WHERE TO TRY: Menemen Beşiktaş

Menemen Turkish street food

13. Meze

Turkish Meze is something for a picky eater. Why? Because it’s a plate with many different toppings, you’ll find something satisfying your taste. It’s like a big Turkish appetizer dish with various things. It can include everything from olives, dips, hummus, spreads, oils, fried vegetables, stuffed mussels, marinated fish, or meat.

WHERE TO TRY: Fishermen’s Market & Hoca Pasa Street

Turkish Meze

14. Kumpir

Another favorite dish of mine, Kupir, is Turkish baked potato. After it’s baked, locals open it and mix the soft potato with butter and cheese until they create a smooth batter. Then, they add various toppings, which you can usually choose. The topping can be vegetables, cheese, bacon, or onion.

WHERE TO TRY: Patsosis (Istiklal Street)

Turkish Kumpir
Turkish Kumpir

👉 READ ALSO: Does Istanbul Have A Beach? 15 Best Beaches In Istanbul

15. Çiğ Köfte

One of the most surprising dishes in Istanbul, and maybe throughout my traveling career, has been Çiğ köfte. All vegans out there, listen! This is the dish you can’t miss in the city. It’s a mixture of bulgur, garlic, onion, scallions, and tomato paste, served on a lettuce leaf. I love this street food.

It was originally made from raw meat, but locals created a vegan dish due to hygiene laws.

WHERE TO TRY: Çiğköfteci Ali Usta

Istanbul street food cig kofte
Cig Kofte

16. Lahmacun

Lahmacun is a Turkish flatbread topped with minced meat, onions, garlic, tomatoes, vegetables, parsley, spices, and chili paprika. After, locally bake it in the oven and serve it warm, sometimes with Turkish yogurt and additional herbs.

It can be described as thin, crispy, and spicy pizza; locals like ordering it with other main dishes such as meatballs.

WERE TO TRY: Hoca Pasa Street

Turkish lahmacum
Turkish Lahmacum

17. Börek

Börek is one of my favorite pastries in the world. It’s not just famous for Turkey. You can also try it in any Balkan country. It’s a filo pastry with minced meat, cheese, or spinach. You can find it pretty much in any local bakery in Istanbul. The best is to get it fresh and warm, directly taken from an oven. My favorite flavor is the cheesy spinach Börek.

WHERE TO TRY: İbrahim Hakkı Uğrak Börek (Karaköy) & Kadıköy Produce Market

Istanbul street food Turkish borek
Turkish Borek

18. Gözleme

Gözleme is another delicious Turkish snack: a crispy flatbread with different toppings. It can be made with minced meat, vegetables, feta cheese, and spinach. But the most traditional is filled with spinach and feta cheese. It’s another street food in Istanbul that I could eat non-stop.

WHERE TO TRY: Hoca Pasa Street

Gozleme Istanbul Street Food

19. Turkish Pide

Pide is a Turkish-style pizza in an oval size and a thicker bread layer. It’s served with various toppings; you can get it in many restaurants and street food markets in Istanbul. Locals like to drink Ayran, liquid yogurt.

➡ WHERE TO TRY: Tarihi Haliç Pidecisi

Turkish Pide (cheese)
Turkish Pide (cheese)

20. Baklava

Baklava is one of my favorite desserts. Even though I’m not a huge fan of overly sweet food, Balkava is different. It’s a typical Balkan dessert made with filo pastry and filled with nuts, honey, and sugar syrup.

However, Turks recently created a new Baklava, which they claim is a healthier or more fitness version of Balkava. Instead of the syrup, they add milk and cover it with cocoa powder. And I must say, it’s less sweet and delicious. So try it out.

Another sweet you have to try in Istanbul is called Kunefe. It’s a melted cheese covered in shredded kadayif dough. It created a weird first impression as the cheese was kind of salty, and they poured a sweet syrup on the entire dish. But I liked it overall.

WHERE TO TRY: Hatay Asi Künefeleri & Osmanlizadeler 1879

Istanbul street food baklava
Me enjoying Turkish Baklava

21. Lokum

Last but not least, trying Turkish lokum (Turkish delight) is another must in Istanbul. Lokum is a jelly candy made from various things such as rosewater, fruits, and sugar. It’s typically garnished with nuts and is overly sweet.

Yet, there is another style of Turkish delight (to me, it’s the better and delicious version). It’s full of nuts and rich flavors, wrapped in marzipan. They taste like real fruits, chocolate, and nuts, and you can find them everywhere in any Istanbul bazaar.

WHERE TO TRY: Ganik Şekerleme Eminönü & Osmanlizadeler 1879

Lokum Istanbul Street Food

👉 READ ALSO: Best Of Turkey Itinerary 10 Days

Where To Eat Street Food In Istanbul

You can eat street food everywhere in Istanbul. Whether it’s a bazaar or a random place, food in the city awaits you in every corner.

The best places to try street food in Istanbul are generally restaurants, markets, and bazaars. I’ve picked the best ones for you to have the best food experience in the city without planning a lot.

Best Street Food Markets In Istanbul

Here are the best street food markets in Istanbul that you can’t miss during your visit.

🔆 Tarihi Hocapasa Lokantarali (Hoca Pasa Street)
🔆 Istiklal Avenue
🔆 Beşiktaş Breakfast Street
🔆 Eminönü
🔆 Fishermen’s Market
🔆 Kadıköy Produce Market
🔆 Grand Bazaar
🔆 Spice Bazaar

🔆 Tarihi Hocapasa Lokantarali (Hoca Pasa Street)

Hoca Pasa Street is where you can try almost all the dishes and street food. You’ll find different types of Kebab, Lahmacun, Pide, Meze, Manti, Dolma, Menemen, and more. It’s a covered street full of different restaurants and street food markets. I recommend going here first to try some Turkish delicacies.

🔆 Istiklal Avenue

Istiklal Street is another great place to try street food in Istanbul. It’s a long avenue full of shops, cafes and restaurants. You can try Kumpir, Baklava, Turkish Delight, and many other products. It’s also a great spot for a coffee break.

🔆 Beşiktaş Breakfast Street

If you want to try delicious Menemen and fresh local products, head to Besiktas Street. You can try traditional Turkish breakfast and delicious pastries like Börek and Gözleme.

🔆 Eminönü

Eminönü is the best place to try Balik Ekmek – a traditional fish sandwich famous for Istanbul. Locals will serve it from a boat; the entire experience is so much fun. Don’t forget to order pickled juice with it.

Walking from the boats, you’ll visit my favorite street food markets in Eminönü. It has so much food, the best Turkish coffee, Baklava, and Pide. I recommend planning at least half a day for this market; they’re huge, and the atmosphere is incredible.

Is Istanbul safe for Americans safest areas and neighborhoods
Eminönü – Safest areas and neighborhoods

🔆 Fishermen’s Market

It’s located in the Besiktas district of Istanbul. It’s a great place to try Turkish meals, especially seafood such as stuffed mussels and fish. It has many street food restaurants, and the atmosphere of this place is incredible.

🔆 Kadıköy Produce Market

This is the only market on our list located in the Asian side of Istanbul. Kadıköy Market is the perfect place to try traditional pastries such as Börek, Gözleme, and Baklava or buy different products like nuts and fruits.

🔆 Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar is the world’s first shopping mall and also the biggest covered market in the world. What can I say – it’s very easy to get lost. So I recommend entering it with a guide. The bazaar is more directed toward jewelry, carpet, silk, and gold shopping.

But if you’re looking for food, you can try delicious Turkish delight, Baklava, and buy some spices, tea, or coffee. It’s the best place to experience Turkish tea culture, too.

Is Turkey worth visiting Grand Bazaar Istanbul
Me exploring Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

🔆 Spice Bazaar

If you want to buy some spices, this is the place to be. Spice Bazaar is one of my favorite places in Istanbul, full of spice markets. You can’t get any food inside, so it’s just for spice shopping.

Turkish Spice Bazaar
Spice Bazaar – Istanbul

Best Street Food Restaurants In Istanbul

The best street food restaurants in Istanbul are located on 4 different street:

Hoca Pasa Street
Fishermen’s Market
Istiklal Street
Beşiktaş Breakfast Street

If you want to experience street food in the city, go straight to Hoca Pasa Street. Hundreds of restaurants serve traditional Turkish street food, from Kebab to Dolma, Köfte, Lahmacun, Pide, and Manti there. It’s a great place to go for lunch and dinner.

Or go to the Fishermen’s Market for some of the best restaurants with fresh produce.

If you want to enjoy cafes, sweets, and snacks, go to Istaklal Street. It’s a long avenue with many street food businesses.

And if you want to experience traditional Turkish breakfast, look no further than Beşiktaş Breakfast Street.

Istanbul itinerary 3 days Asian side
Asian side of Istanbul

Map Of Street Food Places In Istanbul

Here is a map of the best street food places I’ve visited and mentioned in this article. Save it to your phone and navigate the street markets in Istanbul once you visit the city.

Istanbul Street Food Prices 2024

Istanbul is one of the most affordable cities you can visit in Europe. Offering so many food options, you can try a lot, even if your budget is tight. The average meal price in Istanbul is about $6 (meatballs, kebab), while a snack (stuffed mussels, pide, Gozleme) costs around $2.5.

Prices depend on the ingredients used to prepare the food. For example, Gozleme, made just from flour, water, and a bit of spinach, can cost under $1 while still filling. Testi Kebab made with meat and prepared in a special way will cost you more, but it’ll be under $10 anyway.

Be aware that food in touristy places will always cost more than in remote areas of Istanbul.

Here is a list of the street food and prices in Istanbul, as a quick reference. Note that these are very approximate and average prices.

  • Dönner Kebab: 20 TL – 40 TL ($2.50)
  • Testi Kebab: 180 TL ($7)
  • Ali Nazik Kebab: 140 TL ($5)
  • Shish Kebab: 20 TL – 40 TL ($2.50)
  • Köfte: 25 TL ($1.50)
  • Balik Ekmek: 10 TL – 15 TL ($0.50)
  • Islak Burger: 5 TL (almost nothing in $)
  • Kokoretsi: 15 TL ($0.80)
  • Dolma: 8 TL ($0.10)
  • Midye Dolma: 25 TL ($1.20)
  • Manti: 20 TL ($1)
  • Menemen: 15 TL ($0.50)
  • Meze: 15 TL ($0.50)
  • Kumpir: 20 TL – 25 TL ($1)
  • Çiğ Köfte: 5 TL (almost nothing in $)
  • Lahmacun: 20 TL ($1)
  • Börek: 3 TL (almost nothing in $)
  • Gözleme: 3 TL ($0.10)
  • Turkish Pide: 20 TL – 25 TL ($1)
Turkish tea culture in Grand Bazaar
Turkish tea culture in Grand Bazaar

Best Street Food Tours In Istanbul

I’m a huge fan of food tours while traveling for many reasons. First, it’s easier to find great food spots with a local as you often fall into the tourist traps. Secondly, sometimes, it’s hard to figure out what to try. In addition, having a local guide will give you a new perspective on the food and bring you close to the traditions and culture of the country.

That’s why I highly recommend doing a food tour while visiting Istanbul. A local guide will take you to the best spots to try various street foods; you’ll learn a lot about the history and culture and meet new friends.

So here are my top 2 recommendations for a food tour in Istanbul.

Is It Safe To Eat Street Food In Istanbul?

Yes, it’s safe to eat street food in Istanbul as long as you eat in official places such as street food markets, shops, or restaurants. If you’re not sure, use common sense.

You’ll see if a place serving food looks clean or what the hygiene is. Also, you can use Google and check the reviews of the place. It helps me determine whether other travelers had problems or liked the food.

A good rule of thumb is to eat in places in the center and avoid hidden streets with fewer people. This way, you can be sure the food will be good and safe.

👉 READ ALSO: Is Istanbul Safe For Americans? Safety Tips For Travel


Let’s dive a bit deeper into the Turkish street food in Istanbul. I’ve also answered frequently asked questions, so check them out below.

What Is The Most Popular Street Food In Istanbul?

The most popular street food in Istanbul is Balik Ekmek. Locals prepare a fish sandwich on fancy boats at the Eminönü district. They also serve it with pickled juice. Getting the sandwich is an experience and a great way to interact with locals.

Where To Get Good Street Food In Istanbul?

The two best places to get great street food in Istanbul are Hoca Pasa Street and Istiklal Street. Hoca Pasa is a tiny covered street with hundreds of restaurants offering the best Instabul street food. Istiklal is an avenue with many cafes, bars, and shops where you can find great Turkish food, too.

Is Street Food Cheap In Istanbul?

Yes, street food is cheap in Istanbul. The average price for a street food meal is around $5 – $6. Prices vary depending on the ingredients that the meal is made of and its preparation. But Istanbul is one of Europe’s most affordable cities, so you can eat well for less.

Is Street Food Popular In Turkey?

Yes, street food is popular in Turkey. Locals eat a lot and enjoy their food at every single moment. That’s why you’ll find many street food restaurants and people eating on the streets. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is. Turks will always happily enjoy their food.

What Is Turkey’s National Dish?

Turkey’s national dish is the Döner Kebab. While the country has so many unique foods and flavors, Doner Kebab is the most famous and has been brought to other countries.

WRAP-UP: Best Street Food In Istanbul

These are the best Turkish street foods and places to find them in Istanbul. There are some unique dishes for Istanbul and Turkey specifically, so if you’re a foodie, you’ll love doing a food tour around the city. And it’s not just about eating. It’s about the entire atmosphere of the markets, where you can connect with locals and enjoy the culture. I love this about traveling so much.

If you have any questions, contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com. I’ll gladly help you or create a customized travel itinerary for you.

Happy Travels!

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About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

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