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Kadikoy, a charming neighborhood, is a heaven for food lovers looking to sample street food in Istanbul.
To better understand Turkish street food, we looked for an Istanbul street food tour in Kadikoy the neighborhood where we stayed.
Attracted by their focus on local and iconic foods, we teamed up with Yummy Istanbul for a delicious culinary adventure.
For a food tour in Kadikoy and a taste of two continents, here’s what to expect on a street food tour in Istanbul.
Istanbul Street Food Tour – Overview
To explore Kadikoy and street food in Istanbul, Yummy Istanbul offers two tours. The dedicated Kadikoy street food tour is offered in the evening when restaurants and street food vendors are bustling.
And, a second Istanbul food tour, taste of two continents, which is an all-day affair. Starting in Istanbul Old Town on the European side, this tour ends in Kadikoy on the Asian side of Istanbul.
During our stay in Istanbul, Taste of Two Continents was the only food tour in Kadikoy available, so we jumped at the opportunity to join it.
Leading our Yummy Istanbul food tour, was Leyla, our enthusiastic Istanbul-born local guide.
Here are our favorite highlights from the people and wide variety of foods you taste on the Asian and European sides of Istanbul.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Yummy Istanbul was one of the first food tour companies in Istanbul. Today, they offer a variety of food tours in Istanbul that are handcrafted for local food experiences. For amazing street food in Istanbul, check out their Kadıköy street food tour or Taste of Two Continent Food Tour.
Kadikoy Food Tour
Kadikoy, located on the Asian side of Istanbul is a bustling and trendy neighborhood.
Not only is it one of the coolest neighborhoods, but it is also famous for its culinary scene with a mix of restaurants, cafes, and street food vendors offering a wide variety of Turkish food.
Exploring Kadikoy on a food tour is an experience not to be missed.
With Leyla, our local guide, we navigated through the narrow streets, walking up and down hilly streets to some of the best local eats in Kadikoy.
Iskender Kebab – The Original Doner Kebab
Of all the Turkish kebabs, the iskender kebab is one of the most famous traditional kebabs.
On our Kadikoy street food tour, we were surprised to visit the Iskender family restaurant.
İskender Efendi created the style of cooking the meat vertically, eventually leading to the doner kebab’s creation.
While sitting in the family-run location in Kadikoy, we enjoyed heavenly plates of the Iskender Kebap.
Just four high-quality ingredients make this kebab tasting a magnificent experience.
As we learned from our guide, layer the specially prepared lamb on the crispy sourdough pita, then roll it in goat butter drizzled on the kebab. Add a little yogurt for a mouthwatering bite.
Kokorec – Lamb Intestine Street Food
A popular street food in Istanbul, kokoreç (pronounced ko-ko-rech), is an unmistakable street food found in many places in Kadikoy.
Even if you might be squirmy about trying offals, we recommend trying at least one bite on the Kadikoy street food tour.
Everyone in our group was open to tasting the lamb intestines, especially after our guide described the thorough cleaning and cooking process.
The lamb intestines chopped up and served with salt and spices, was wrapped in soft bread and served with a cup of frothy ayran drink.
A popular drinking food, kokoreç was a deliciously unusual street food to discover in Kadikoy.
Midye Dolma – Stuffed Mussels with Rice
Stuffed mussels are an iconic street food in Kadikoy and other parts of Turkey.
While on the street food tour, we stopped at one of the most frequented local eateries for mussels.
Described by our tour guide as having some of the best midye on the Asian side of Istanbul, we were excited to sample their delicacy.
Midye, we learned is generally served in two ways. The most popular is stuffed midye or midye dolma. And, the second is fried midye or midye tava.
Even though we had eaten more than our fair share of street food at this point, it was hard to resist the iconic bivalves.
The stuffed midye were tasty and fresh, while the fried ones were quite unusual.
If you haven’t had fried or stuffed mussels with rice, you are in for a treat on this Istanbul street food tour.
Turşu – Pickled Vegetables and Juice
A Yummy Istanbul street food tour involves a lot of food and a whole lot of eating. While our stop to sample pickled juice and vegetables may not have been the sweetest, it was probably one of the healthiest.
Pickled juice or turşu suyu is a part of Turkish cuisine dating back to the Ottoman times.
The complex mix of sour and salty are believed to be good for the body, acting as a palate cleanser and boosting energy.
At a family-owned pickle store, we stopped to try pickle juice with a mix of chopped-up pickled vegetables.
The flavors were sour with an underlying kick of salt. Slices of cabbage, cucumber, and plums added a nice texture to the juice.
While not a particularly delicious stop, it was a taste of Turkish culture.
This old food preservation method packs vitamins and probiotics in each sip of pickle juice.
How To Book Your Kadikoy Food Tour
If you are focused on exploring Kadikoy, you’ll visit a few more family-owned eateries on your Yummy Istanbul Kadikoy street food tour.
Your culinary experience will end with sweet Turkish treats that your taste buds will relish.
Your tour also begins and ends in Kadikoy and it takes place in the evening, starting at 6:00 pm.
Crossing the Bosphorus for a Taste of Two Continents
If you choose the Yummy Istanbul Taste of Two Continents food tour, you’ll savor delicious Turkish foods found on the European and Asian sides of the city.
To move across the city, you’ll cross the Bosphorus in one of Istanbul’s historic ferries.
And even though the commute takes only about 20 minutes, it’s the same city with completely different vibes.
The European side is home to historic monuments like the Hagia Sophia Mosque, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace.
And, the Asian side is more residential and also rich in history.
Both sides have a rich culinary history and the Taste of Two Continents food tour takes you the family-owned eateries making the best local Turkish foods.
Starting at the Spice Market For A Taste of Two Continents
The Taste of Two Continents Tour with Yummy Istanbul starts on the European side, with a visit to Spice Market to pick up bites for Turkish breakfast.
Built in 1664, this colorful and vibrant market is filled with stalls selling mountains of diverse spices, dried herbs, nuts, Turkish delights, and much more.
Around the market are food stalls with fresh produce like wonderful cheeses, olives of all kinds including some that were grilled and fruit flavored.
As we walked around the fresh produce section of the market, Leyla introduced us to traditional Turkish cheeses, Simit, cured meats, spices, and local produce.
The local vendors we met were happy to share samples of their specialties. And, as a group, we were eager to try them all over a traditional Turkish breakfast.
Kahvalti – Traditional Turkish Breakfast
With our breakfast items in hand, we walked around the Spice Market to a little eatery to feast on a traditional Turkish breakfast.
Our Turkish feast included cheese, olives, eggs, Turkish sausages, menemen eggs, and endless cups of traditional Turkish tea.
Khavalti or traditional Turkish breakfast is the first meal of the day, eaten before consuming coffee. In fact, the literal translation for kahvaltı, we learned, is “before coffee.”
As we enjoyed juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, and spreads like buffalo cream or kaymak, hazelnut, and pistachio spreads, Leyla shared stories about Istanbul and the food markets.
Stunning Mosques and Architecture
Istanbul is said to have over 3000 mosques. And, as you walk around the city, their presence and beauty are awe-inspiring.
Around the Spice Bazaar are stunning mosques and it was great to be on our guided food tour to better understand their design and history.
One of the most fascinating to learn about was the Sultanate of Women Period when mothers took charge and ruled the country on behalf of their young sultan sons.
This period between the 16th and 17th century during the Ottoman Empire left behind the “New Mosque” or Yeni Camii Mosque, a distinctive mosque across from the Spice market.
Anchoring the Spice Market is the Rüstem Pasha Mosque. Another stunning mosque with only one minaret.
While we didn’t get a chance to visit it, we learned the blue tiles on the interior rival those of the Blue Mosque.
Overall, we had a great time on our Istanbul street food tour, experiencing the city through the eyes of a local.
The rich history and diverse local food specialties best come to life on a tour of Istanbul with a local guide.
Overall Impressions of the Istanbul Food Tour
What We Loved
Istanbul is a massive city with street food stalls, local markets, and eateries at every corner. Knowing how to navigate the city and food is made much easier on a guided food tour.
Some of the things we loved about our street food tour in Istanbul are;
- The diversity of food and food stops – Plan to eat a lot. And, not just samples, but full-sized generous portions. We took the Taste of Two Continents tour and our eating marathon was about 6 hours in length from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm. If you take the Kadikoy street food tour, you’ll start at 6:00 pm for about 4h30 hours in length ending at 10:30 pm.
- Amazing food at family-owned eateries – Hearing the stories about the people and places we went was something we really appreciated from our Istanbul food tour. These shops and eateries were family-owned by multiple generations and they were all experts in the craft and food specialties.
- An open and knowledgeable local guide – Having a great tour guide makes for an enriching food tour experience. Leyla, our guide was not only insightful about Turkish food but also very open to discussing life in Turkey in general. You will leave the tour not only stuffed but also more informed about the cuisine, culture, and history.
What Could Be Improved on this Istanbul Food Tour
Overall, there was not much that can be improved about the food tour with Yummy Istanbul.
The food tour of Istanbul promises authentic tastes of two continents and it delivered.
That said, there are a few things worth noting.
- Wear comfortable shoes – Istanbul is a hilly city and you’ll do a fair amount of walking especially on the Kadikoy side. Note, the walking is welcomed as it helps you digest between food stops, but you want comfortable shoes to make it easier.
- Wear your eating pants – When you receive your food tour booking confirmation and also at the start of the food tour, you’ll be reminded to pace yourself with the food. These are words of wisdom you want to pay attention to. You’ll eat a lot on the tour, so plan to skip breakfast before the taste of two continents food tour and eat the bread reasonably on the tour.
How To Book Your Istanbul Street Food Tour
An Istanbul street food tour with Yummy Istanbul is one of the best tours for local and authentic Turkish specialties.
The tours are conducted in small group sizes for an intimate experience.
If you want to dive into the Kadikoy district for a nighttime street food experience, book the Kadikoy street food tour.
If you want your tour of Istanbul to include delicious food from both the European and Asian sides, take the full-day tour instead.
The Taste of Two Continents food tour includes more than 25 local tastings and a fun ride on a Bosphorus ferry.
If this is your first visit to Istanbul, this comprehensive tour of Istanbul is a great way to begin to know the city.
Other Istanbul Tours Offered by Yummy Istanbul
Besides the two tours that cover Kadikoy, Yummy Istanbul also offers tours in other Istanbul neighborhoods.
Flavors of the Old City Food Tour – This small group tour of Istanbul focuses on the Old City around the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar.
For about 6 – 7 hours, you’ll explore the historic backstreets of the bazaars. This culinary adventure starts with Turkish breakfast, kebabs, desserts, and many more delicious Turkish foods.
If you’re interested in history and architecture, this is one of the best food tours focused on the Old City.
Taksim Evening Food Tour – Savor the best local street foods in the the heart of Taksim in the modern Beyoglu district of Istanbul.
This 3.5-hour food tour takes you through the vibrant streets to the little-known culinary gems.
As you weave up and down the long famous Istiklal Caddesi street, you’ll stop for tasty Turkish cuisine and and desserts.
If you are staying in the heart of modern Istanbul, this evening street food will guide you to the best local eats.
Have you ever taken a food tour in Istanbul? Which areas did you visit on your Istanbul food tour? Please let us know in the comments below.
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Special thanks to Yummy Istanbul for having us on this tour. All views and opinions expressed are our own. Full bellies and happy taste buds too.
Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
Find out more about Authentic Food Quest