For individual restaurant listings, check district articles.
Meze Meze is basically Turkish version of tapas, served in small portions both hot&cold. Best place to eat meze would be "meyhane".
İskender Best version of Döner. It is basically döner served on a plate with a buttery tomato sauce on top and some plain yoghurt as a side.
Döner. Always a good option for having fast and cheap food. The entrance to Istiklal Street contains dozens of small doner restaurants and they serve almost around the clock; though for a better experience (and a better food quality) you may want to wander about in residential neighbourhoods, since anything near a commercial or tourist area can be highly overpriced and greatly reduced in quality.
Lahmacun It is "meat with dough", is a round, thin piece of dough topped with minced meat (most commonly beef and lamb) and minced vegetables and herbs including onions, tomatoes and parsley, then baked. Lahmacun is often served sprinkled with lemon juice and wrapped around vegetables, including pickles, tomatoes, peppers, onions, lettuce, and roasted eggplant; a typical variants may be found employing kebab meat or sauces.
Dürüm a traditional Turkish wrap (which is made from lavash or yufka flatbread) that is filled with typical kebab or döner ingredients.
. Balik-Ekmek (literally "fish and bread") is a fish sandwich served in small boats and little buffets in Eminonu. It is also increasingly popular in buffets in Kadıköy
coast. A regular sandwich consists of one small fried fish, slices of tomatoes and onion. However, the taste is beyond expectations for such a basic menu. The price is around 4 TL. Again, it's a local favorite.
Hamsi. In Autumn and Winter the Black Sea Anchovy migrate through the Bosphorus, the local fishermen coming out in force to take advantage. All fish restaurants have them on the menu in season. It seems the classic serving is a handful of deep fried fish with raw onion and bread. Eat the fish whole, it's a winner. Look for the small restaurants behind the fish merchants on the Karakoy side of the Galata Bridge, western side. Expect to pay TL6.
Patso. Patso is a type of sandwich consisting of hot dog and French fries. It's usually served in small buffets along the Uskudar coast and a sandwich costs 1.50 TL. The cheap price can raise eyebrows but these buffets are open 24/7 and they serve around 1000 sandwiches per day. Even though the profit margin is low, they make a fortune, so they don't lower the quality too much (except hamburgers, don't touch those in Uskudar, but definitely try the spicy hamburgers in Taksim).
One thing not to be missed is the local ice cream sold at the street stands, called dondurma. While flavors are relatively standard for the region, the ice cream usually incorporates orchid root extract, which gives it an incredibly chewy and stringy texture, also lending itself to be used for marketing and attracting attention while the sellers do tricks to try to sell the ice cream. Try it!
is a snack which can easily be a full meal. It is originated from Albania
but is quite unique to Istanbul in its present form. It consists of a baked potato with various fillings such as grated cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles, sweetcorn, sausage slices, carrots, mushrooms, and Russian salad among others, any of which can optionally be added to or omitted from the mix. While kumpir
can be had at many cafes throughout the city, it is best had from one of the cafes in Ortaköy
, which have a long tradition of preparing kumpir
and offer really filling and tasty ones. About TRY7-8 each.
Roasted chestnuts("kestane Kebap, as locals call it) are sold from carts around the city, and is a very nice snack to have when the weather is cold, as it keeps your hands warm. 3 Lr for 100 gr.
Boiled and roasted corn on the cob is sold from carts around the city, and is a fantastic snack to walk around. Price varies from cart to cart and area of the city (between 1 and 1.5 Lr).
Don't miss the "simit," a warm bread sold from carts around the city, and is a fantastic snack to walk around. The texture and taste is a bit like a sesame bagel. Price varies from cart to cart and area of the city (between .75 and 1 Lr).
Also, be sure to try Ayran, a local drink based on yoghurt, although sour and much thinner. It isn't always on the menu or displayed, but it's there, so ask for it.
Freshly squeezed juice and juice blends are sold from stands and small shops all around the city, and are a refreshing treat (especially in the warmer months). The combinations range from a simple orange juice to the more rare options like pomengranate or kiwi. Price varies from shop to shop, area of the city and complexity of your order (between 2 and 4 Lr).