Istanbul Street Food Guide: 20 Tastiest Street Foods To Eat in Turkey

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Istanbul street food is exciting, varied, and colorful. Street carts and vendors at almost every corner sell delicious, unique, and affordable street foods.

While the city’s rich history and culture are the main draw, the street food in Istanbul offers tasty morsels of the long culinary heritage.

While exploring the local food specialties in Turkey, we were struck by the amount and diversity of street food in Istanbul.

The foods are unique and made with fresh ingredients. To help guide your culinary adventures in Istanbul, we highlight 20 iconic Istanbul street foods.

Taste the culture with these Istanbul street foods.

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1. Lahmacun – Turkish Pizza

Lahmacun Istanbul Street Food by Authentic Food Quest
This crispy Turkish pizza is a very popular Istanbul street food

Lahmacun is a thin crispy layer of dough topped with minced meat and baked.

It’s made fresh to order and topped with fresh herbs, and eaten with a squeeze of lemon juice. 

In Turkey, Lahmacun is pronounced, “lahma’joun.” The name comes from the Arabic “lahma bi’ajeen,” which means “dough with meat.” 

While Lahmacun is popular in Turkey, it is also found in the Middle East and several countries that were part of the Ottoman Empire.

Within Turkey, the two regions of Urfa or Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep in the southwest of the country claim the origins of this food.

Regardless of its origins, it is one of the most famous street food in Istanbul and throughout the country.

The light, crispy dough with a delightfully spiced minced meat mixture is to die for.

The Turkish pizza is typically served warm, and it pairs well with Ayran, a salty Turkish yogurt drink. 

Lahmachun is cut into quarters and rolled up with fresh herbs and vegetables. Sprinkled with a little bit of lemon juice, the flavors come together perfectly.

This delicious street food in Istanbul is not to be missed on your travels to Turkey.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: One of the best ways to try these Istabul street foods is on a tour with local guide. See our recommended 9 Best Istanbul Food Tours: Indulge In Authentic Turkish Cuisine

2. Pide – Turkish Flat Bread

Pide Istanbul Street Food by Authentic Food Quest
Pide made with ground meat

Pide is a traditional Turkish bread with a long, boat-like shape with folded dough edges. 

In Istanbul, Pide can be found at street vendors and specialized shops called Pideci

Pide is made with a variety of toppings. Some of the most popular toppings are ground meat and onion, Turkish cheese and spinach, or combinations with sucuk or spicy Turkish sausage.

This popular street food is cooked in a stone oven and traditionally served open-faced. 

While we mainly enjoyed savory Pide, we were surprised to discover sweet versions of this Turkish food. 

On a food tour in Izmir, the third-largest city in Turkey along the Aegean coast, we had sweet sesame or tahini-based Pide.

Although different from the salty version, the sweet version of Pide is equally delicious.

This delightful flatbread is one of the most popular Turkish street foods.

3. Borek or Börek – Savory Filled Pastry

Borek Istanbul Street Food by Authentic Food Quest
Borek can have different fillings

Borek is a beloved street food that originated in the Ottoman Empire and spread around Europe, parts of Asia, and the Middle East.

In Turkey, Borek are stuffed pastries made with yufka, or phyllo pastry, wrapped around meat or cheese filling.

What makes this delicious street food so unique is the contrast of textures. 

While the exterior is flaky and crispy, you find soft and rich flavors on the inside. 

The shapes of Borek vary in Turkey. You can find it baked as one huge circular pie. 

You’ll find other versions with triangular shapes or even some tube-shaped ones.  

As one of our favorite Istanbul street foods, we loved the Borek filled with Turkish cheese.

The Borek versions filled with minced beef were a close favorite. 

This Istanbul street food is filling and tasty and one of the favorite street foods you’ll encounter

RELATED: Best Balkan Food Guide: 25+ Authentic Balkans Food You Want To Try

4. Islak Burgers – Turkish Burgers

Islak Burgers Istanbul Street Food by Authentic Food Quest
These juicy little burgers are a delicious snack

Islak burgers, or wet burgers, are small, moist burgers and a popular street food in Turkey. 

These burgers are said to have been invented in Taksim Square in Istanbul in the 1960s or 1970s.

 Islak in Turkish means “wet,” which describes the moist taste of these little burgers.

The Islak burgers are soaked in a garlicky tomato sauce and are kept in steam cabinets to preserve their moisture.

A culinary symbol of Istanbul, you’ll find wet burger vendors at most street corners in Istanbul.

The wet burgers are made of a beef patty inside a soft white bun. They are typically eaten as a late-night snack and are soggy and quite good.

Compared to traditional burgers, Islak burgers do not have lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, or any type of toppings.

We were quite surprised at how much we liked the wet burgers in Istanbul. They were well-seasoned, soggy, and easy to devour in a few bites.

Wet burgers are a popular street food in Istanbul. They have a nice spicy flavor, are extremely delicious, and this famous street food is not to be missed in Istanbul.

5. Balik Ekmek – Fish Sandwich

Balik Ekmek Istanbul Street Food by Authentic Food Quest
Vendors preparing fresh Balik Ekmek

Balik Ekmek is one of the most famous Istanbul street foods.

It’s a delicious fish sandwich and it quickly became one of our best street food in Istanbul.

A Balik Ekmek sandwich is prepared with grilled white fish, raw onions, and tomatoes stuffed in bread. 

The fish used to make this street food is mackerel. Unfortunately, as we learned on an Istanbul food tour, the fish does not come from the Bosphorus Strait, as we thought, but from Norway. 

Due to overfishing and the price of fish becoming expensive, vendors turned to alternative sources for the fish sandwiches.

One of the most popular places for these fish sandwiches is the embankment near the Galata Bridge. 

Even though you’ll see lines of people in line to buy their grilled fish sandwiches, other vendors all over the city sell better quality sandwiches.

Balik Ekmek sandwiches are tasty, healthy, and inexpensive. Watching the vendors prepare the sandwiches before you is one of the best things about this street food.

You watch the fish grilled and then stuffed in bread or a wrap with vegetables and Turkish spices.

Balik Ekmet are one of the best street foods in Istanbul. We recommend trying the grilled fish sandwiches from different vendors around the city.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: While in Istanbul, we stayed in the trendy Kadikoy neighborhood celebrated for its culinary offerings. To dive into the Istanbul street food, we took a delicious food tour with a local guide. See our review of Istanbul Street Food Tour: How To Eat Your Way in Kadikoy Trendy Neighborhood

6. Doner Kebab or Döner Kebap – Meat in Pita Bread

Doner Kebab Istanbul Street Food by Authentic Food Quest
Doner Kebab, a. much-loved street food in Istanbul and worldwide

The Doner Kebab is another icon in the gastronomic food scene in Istanbul.

This dish is beloved street food from Turkey, loved and enjoyed worldwide. 

Kebab consists of meat grilled vertically in a rotating skewer. In Turkey, while you’ll find chicken doner, lamb is the most common meat. 

As a sandwich, the doner meat is sliced off the skewer and stuffed into a flatbread with vegetables and herbs.

At restaurants, doner kebabs are served on a plate with fried potatoes or rice and salad.

In whatever way your doner kebab is prepared, expect juicy and delicious flavors.

This Turkish street food can be found all over the city of Istanbul.

It’s one of the most famous street foods with dedicated street vendors renowned for their doner kebabs.

7. Dondurma – Turkish Ice Cream 

Dondurma Street Food In Istanbul by Authentic Food Quest
Dondurma vendors are famous for playing entertaining tricks while serving

Dondurma is traditional Turkish ice cream with surprising ingredients and tastes you’ve never had before.

The name translates to “freezing” or “frozen,” and Dondurma is one street food you’ll seek out on a hot Istanbul day.

This Turkish ice cream is made using goat’s milk, sugar, and salep, which is a powdered orchid bulb. 

The orchid bulb or salep gives the ice cream a consistency thick enough to cut with a knife.

Mastic, from the resin of Mastic trees found in Turkey, is added to the ice cream giving it a stretchy texture.

As a result, you’ll see vendors beating and kneading Turkish ice cream, like dough using long metal rods.

This makes for an entertaining experience when buying Dondurma.

Different from traditional ice cream or gelato, Turkish ice cream is creamy, stretchy, chewy, and sweet.

The taste was surprising initially, but we enjoyed and appreciated it. 

We enjoyed pistachio, salep, and chocolate flavors, and you’ll find many others you can also choose from.

Dondurma is an experience, particularly when buying it from a Turkish ice cream vendor.

8. Kestane – Roasted Chestnuts 

Kestane Street Food In Istanbul by Authentic Food Quest
The smell of chestnuts roasting is hard to resist

Kestane, or roasted chestnuts in English, are a sweet nutty-flavored Istanbul street food.

They are popular in the winter months, with many street vendors filling the air with the smell of roasted chestnuts.

Regardless of wherever you are in Istanbul, you’ll see street food stalls with a large hot plate with vendors turning over the chestnuts constantly.

These street stalls are positioned at busy intersections and are unmissable with dark smoke surrounding the stalls. 

Amongst Turkish street foods, these roasted chestnuts are a favorite street food.

They are a healthy and delicious snack, having plenty of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. 

Kestane are one of the best street food in Istanbul when looking for a sweet snack to warm you up.

9. Midye Dolma – Stuffed Mussels

Midye Dolma Istanbul Food Street by Authentic Food Quest
For the best Midye Dolma look for a vendor busy with locals

Stuffed mussels, or Midye Dolma, are one of the most famous street foods in Istanbul loved by locals.

Midye are mussels. They are stuffed with rice, which has been cooked with spices and aromatic herbs. 

These plump mussels are orange in color and eaten with a squeeze of fresh lemon. 

While stuffed mussels are one of the most loved Turkish street foods, we were hesitant to try them initially.

Our concern was whether this street food in Istanbul would be safe to eat without getting sick.

To eat Midye safely, you want to look for a street vendor selling the mussels in a clean environment, with many locals eating around the stand or cart.

This popular Turkish street food is quite popular in coastal Turkish cities like Izmir and others.

In Istanbul, you’ll also find street food sellers in the various neighborhoods that are known locally for having some of the best Midye.

In the Kadikoy district where we stayed, we savored this famous food from one of the best vendors in the area. 

You’ll find vendors renowned for this famous food all around Taksim Square, Karakoy, Istiklal street, Eminonu, and other districts.

Midye Dolma are typically enjoyed as a snack in the evening. Don’t hesitate to join locals at a busy street vendor and try this delicious and cheap street food.

READ MORE: 10 Simple Ways To Protect Your Stomach When Traveling

10. Simit – Turkish Bagels 

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You can’t miss simit vendors in Istanbul

Istanbul “is powered by Simit” is the observation I made during our stay in the city.

You’ll see a street vendor selling these Turkish bagels at practically every street corner and busy square.

Simit are an icon of Istanbul. They are large sesame-covered bagels that are eaten as a snack at any time of the day.

While you’ll find similar round bread rings or bagels in Greece, North Macedonia, and other Balkan countries, these Turkish bagels are unique.

The classic recipe for Simit involves water, flour, yeast, and salt made into dough and twisted into a round shape. They are topped with sesame seeds and then baked.

The addition of molasses to the recipe makes the Turkish bagels unique.

Like Istanbulites, we loved this popular street food snack. The sesame seeds give the dough a slightly crunchy texture, and there is a delicate sweetness from the molasses.

Beyond having Simit plain, you can also have Turkish cheese added to it for a more filling snack.

We preferred the Turkish bagel plan. Simit is one of the most popular street food to savor in Istanbul.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Bring the flavors of Turkey home with a delicious Turkish Munchies Snacks Box. Try 12-full size snacks that range from chocolates, crackers, chips and a variety of other light snacks. Enjoy Turkey from the comfort of home with Turkish Munchies.

11. Kumpir or Kümpir- Baked Potatoes

Kumpir Best Street Food In Istanbul by Authentic Food Quest
Choose from a large variety of toppings for your Kumpir

Kumpir are Turkish-style baked potatoes and are one of the most popular street foods.

These are gigantic baked potatoes stuffed with a variety of stuffings.

You’ll see vendors and street corner restaurants with an array of toppings as diverse as Russian salad, sweetcorn, cheese, mushrooms, olives, and others.

The vendors will slice open a baked potato, mash the insides with butter and then mix them with the toppings of your choice.

These large potatoes make for a delicious and very filling street food.

While Kumpir is most associated with the Ortakoy district of Istanbul, you’ll find Kumpir street food vendors all over the city.

Kumpir is one of the most versatile street foods and is worth seeking out in Istanbul.

12. Misir or Mısır – Grilled Corn 

Misir Street Food In Istanbul Turkey by Authentic Food Quest
Grilled corn, a popular Istanbul street foods, especially during summer

One of the favorite street foods in Istanbul is, without a doubt, grilled corn or Misir. 

You will see adults and children alike eating grilled corn at any time of the day. It is a traditional food amongst the locals and one of the most popular street foods.

While walking around the fascinating streets of Istanbul, be sure you stop for some Misir. 

You will find street vendors selling two different kinds of Misir.

There is Köz Mısır, which is grilled corn on the cob, and Süt Mısır, which are boiled corn kernels not on the cob.

The boiled version is corn served in cups seasoned with condiments like salt, red pepper flakes, mayonnaise, or ketchup.

The grilled corn can also be flavored with lemon juice or other spices to increase its flavor.

While you’ll find grilled corn available in Istanbul all year round, it is particularly popular in the warmer months.

It is customary to savor grilled or boiled corn while taking in the sun. 

RELATED: 74 Street Food Quotes To Inspire The Adventurous Eater in You

13. Kokorec or Kokoreç – Grilled Rolls of Offal

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Kokorec cooking on horizontal skewers

Kokorec is a typical Istanbul street food that consists of grilled sheep intestines wrapped around offal. 

Lamb intestines are thoroughly washed, rinsed, wrapped around sweetbread, and then grilled on a charcoal fire.

The offal is seasoned with spices like thyme, red pepper powder, powdered chili peppers, and onions. 

They are cooked on horizontal skewers, which rotate, ensuring even cooking on all sides.

Slices of kokorec are then chopped up and mixed with spices like cumin and tomatoes and served as a sandwich.

We tried Kokorec on an Istanbul street food tour in Kadikoy and had it paired with Ayran Turkish yogurt-based drink.

Kokorec, we learned, is a popular late-night street food eaten after partying the night away.

Regardless of how you feel about eating offal, Kokorec is a favorite street food in Istanbul. 

It’s pretty tasty and makes for a hearty sandwich. You’ll find well-known Kokorec vendors selling this Istanbul street food in clean and hygienic environments.

On your Istanbul travels, surprise and delight yourself with Kokorec, a much-loved Turkish street food.

READ MORE: 17 Best Foods in Istanbul To Savor (With Desserts and Drinks)

14. Tavuklu Pilav or Tavuk Pilaf – Chicken Rice

Tavuklu Pilav Istanbul Food Street by Authentic Food Quest
Intriguing Turkish rice dish with chicken

Rice with chicken or Tavuk Pilaf is a popular traditional food that is eaten as street food and also in restaurants. 

The rice, locally known as Pilaf, is topped with shredded pieces of boiled chicken and some recipes also include chickpeas.

While you visit the bustling streets of Istanbul, stop and try this popular street food.

You will see vendors with glass-covered pushcarts selling this tasty street food.

We enjoyed Tavuk Pilaf at little corner eateries with chicken or meat and a bowl of soup.

You’ll not go wrong with Tavuk Pilaf in Istanbul. It’s one of the foods locals eat frequently, and it’s a simple street food in Istanbul to enjoy.

15. Karisik Tost or Karışık Tost – Turkish Toast

Turkish Toast Istanbul Street Food by Authentic Food Quest
Tasty toast filled with cheese and sucuk

One of the street foods we were most surprised to find in Turkey was toast. And not just any toast, but “karışık tost,” a local specialty.

Karisik Tost is unlike any regular toast. These are pretty big slices of traditional Turkish bread filled with various ingredients.

The most popular is Karışık Tost, a mixed toast made with Kaşar cheese, slices of sucuk, or spicy Turkish sausage.

You can find this tasty street food at vendors in Istanbul and in the city’s small cafes at very reasonable prices. 

These grilled cheese sandwiches pair well with Turkish tea and make for a delicious light lunch or snack on the go.

Karışık Tost are made fresh to order and some vendors have additional ingredients like avocado, which you can add to your sandwich.

This is another of our favorite Istanbul street foods to relish in the city and throughout Turkey.

16. Tantuni – Turkish Wrap

Tantuni Istanbul Street Food, by Authentic Food Quest
Tantuni on a plate

Tantuni is a Turkish wrap that is much loved in Istanbul, though not widely known among visitors to the city.

This street food in Istanbul is made with strips of beef cooked on a traditional Turkish sac, a thin metal pan used for cooking food at high temperatures.

The meat is wrapped in thin Turkish bread called lavash and served with chopped onions, tomatoes, and parsley.

While the most popular way to enjoy Tantumi is as a wrap, you can also have it as a main dish on a plate.

Tantuni originated in the Mediterranean port city of Mersin and became famous spreading all over Turkey.

Turkish Wrap Street Food Istanbul by Authentic Food Quest
The chef preparing and adding meat to our Tantuni

Try Tantuni street food from different vendors in Istanbul. The way it is prepared differs. Some may boil the meat more or fry it less or even add different kinds and amounts of spices.

Regardless of preparation styles, Tantuni is a delicious street food to be enjoyed any time of the day.

17. Gozleme or Gözleme – Handmade Stuffed Flatbread

Gozleme Street Food In Istanbul by Authentic Food Quest
Healthy and delicious Turkish snack

Another one of our favorite Istanbul street foods, Gozleme, is not to be missed in Istanbul.

Gozleme is a traditional homemade Turkish very thin pastry that is stuffed and folded over. 

It is made to order, cooked over a very hot griddle, and filled mostly with cheese, spinach, or a combination of both.

This tasty snack is said to have existed in Turkey for centuries as a traditional village food cooked by women. 

In Turkish cities like Istanbul, you will find this street food at markets, specialized Gozleme shops, or local eateries.

Gozleme is a derivation from the word “goz” which means compartment, in reference to the pocket aspect of the dough.

This folded flatbread is a delicious and healthy street food. It’s a popular choice for breakfast with a cup of Turkish coffee or tea. 

And, it’s versatile enough to eat as a light lunch or a snack on the go.  A personal favorite, this is a delicious snack to savor while in Istanbul.

18. İçli Köfte – Fried meatballs 

Kofte Street Food Istanbul by Authentic Food Quest
This crunchy kofte has interesting legends about its origins

İçli Köfte is an Istanbul classic street food and a personal favorite for Claire.

These are fried meatballs made with minced meat and are perfectly seasoned.

These fried meatballs are torpedo-shaped and made in two parts. The outer layer is made of bulgur or cracked wheat. 

While the inside has minced beef or goat meat, cooked with onions, walnuts, peppers, and spices.

The combination of flavors is quite extraordinary. First, you bite into the crunchy bulgur and are rewarded with delicious savory spiced meat.

These fried meatballs are pretty hefty, and one makes a delicious snack or street food to eat on the go.

There are many legends about the origin of this Turkish food. 

İçli Köfte are said to date back to the Ottoman Empire. Köfte, which means “pounded meat,” was said to be made from the less desirable cuts of meat to avoid food waste. 

Another legend gives İçli Köfte another name – mother-in-law meatballs. 

In some areas of Anatolia, a mother-in-law would serve the meatballs to the bride-to-be, to “seal her lips with discretion.”

The implication is that the bride should have her lips sealed just like the outer layer of the İçli Köfte.

Regardless of their origins, these fried meatballs are mouthwatering and they will leave you wanting more. 

19. Tursu Suyu – Pickled Juice

Tursu Suyu Best Street Food In Istanbul by Authentic Food Quest
Pickled juice is an acquired taste

Pickled foods are a staple in Turkey cuisine. And a glass of pickled juice is part of the local culinary culture.

Dating back to the Ottoman period, this is an age-old tradition of preserving fruits and vegetables. 

Everything from cucumbers, cabbages, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, plums, pears, melons, and more, are pickled and displayed in brightly colored jars.

We were surprised to learn that drinking pickled juice was quite popular. 

It is usually consumed outside of meals and is said to have immune and health benefits.

In Istanbul, you will find plenty of pickle juice stalls, especially near the Galata Bridge or the Kadikoy district.

We tried the pickle juice at a famous Pickle Shop in Kadikoy and surprisingly liked it.

 It is salty and vinegary and definitively an acquired taste. 

While pickle juice may not be as popular as Turkish coffee or tea, do try it after eating street food in Istanbul.

20. Lokma – Syrup soaked Turkish Doughnuts

Lokma Istanbul Street Food by AuthenticFoodQuest
Perfect sweet bites to end a day of eating Istanbul street food

Lokma, are a Turkish street food dessert. They are deep-fried dough balls soaked in sugar syrup.

These tiny sweet delights are easy to prepare. Dough is rolled into fried balls and fried until they turn golden brown in color.

They are then covered in syrup and served warm. The flavors and textures meld together with the crunchy exterior and soft interior. 

All along the streets of Istanbul, you’ll see street food stalls selling these delightful bites.

They are not too sweet, and they make a perfect finish to a day of eating some of the best street food in Istanbul.

RELATED: 17 Most Popular Turkish Desserts You Can’t Wait To Try

FAQ’s –  Istanbul Street Food

Grill Istanbul Street Foods by Authentic Food Quest

Can You Eat Street Food in Istanbul?

Istanbul street food are diverse and plentiful. You’ll find a wide variety of snacks and dishes. Generally, it is safe to eat the street food and you will not get sick. Eat street food from vendors that have long lines and busy stalls. You will be delightfully surprised by the amazing flavors you’ll discover.

Street Food Prices in Istanbul

The price of Istanbul street food ranges from about 7.5 lira to 120 lira. This is approximately $0.40 USD to $6.35 USD, making the street food pretty accessible to everyone.

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In Summary

We were impressed by Istanbul’s dynamic street food culture. Prior to visiting Turkey’s capital, we had spent several weeks visiting other cities in Turkey.

While we sampled some similar street foods in other cities, Istanbul has its own unique street foods and culture.

When you get hungry exploring the Blue Mosque,  Hagia Sophia, and other cultural monuments,  be sure to stop for these delicious bites.

Have you had any of these famous street food in Istanbul? Please let us know which ones in the comments below.

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