The breakfast habits of Turks are slightly different than the Europeans’. For starters, tea replaces the coffee. Also sliced tomatoes and/or cucumbers are a must for a Turkish breakfast. The rest of the elements are similar. The most common type of bread is white bread. However, in an attempt to eat healthier, different kinds of grain breads like rye are commonly available these days.
White cheese (similar to feta), old cheese (kaşar peyniri), black and/or green olives (zeytin), butter, thick cream (kaymak), honey, jam, an omelet or boiled eggs (yumurta) are regular players of the game.
The surprise ingredients are sucuklu yumurta and börek. These two are the most common dishes served to spoil the guests. Sucuk is dried sausage made of ground beef with garlic and a variety of spices like red pepper, cumin and sumac. And cooked on a pan mostly with eggs it becomes a fatty yet delicious extravaganza. Börek is made of thin sheets of dough, filled with cheese, minced meat and/or vegetables, wrapped and baked or cooked.
We strongly suggest to have a Turkish breakfast in Besiktas or on the coastline of the Bosphorus in the areas like Bebek, Rumelihisarı. The establishments are in a mighty competition which plays in the cards of the customers. You simply can’t go wrong in the area.
Probably Turkey’s most famous food export, the döner kebab can be seen on street corners across the city. The most popular way to eat this is not in a pita bread like you might have in Germany or the UK, but in a thin flatbread.
This thin bread version is called Dürüm and is one of the most popular Istanbul street food dishes.
PIDE, A BOAT SHAPED PIZZA STYLE BREAD
Turkey’s boat shaped style pizza bread is probably one of my favourite things to eat from this whole list. Simple, but amazing. Choices with or without cheese, depending on your preference. The Spinach and yellow cheese offering in Istanbul is incredible with a really salty hit. The dough is just a touch thicker are airier than others we tried.
Pide is definitely an essential food to try in Istanbul!
LAMACHUN FLAT BREAD
Lamachun is a thin and crispy bread with a spread of tomatoes and ground meat on top. Baked fast in the oven. Then topped with a squeeze of lemon. A great, light snack.
For only 4 lira (about 65 cents Eur at the time) Lamachun is also a super cheap food in Istanbul.
CHEESE & SPINACH BÖREK
Börek is a traditional Turkish food that is a baked, stuffed pastry. You’ll find Börek all around the region from Albania through to Armenia. It differs a little in every country so make sure to try it in Istanbul where you’ll see pastry shops all over the city.
Another common sight for Istanbul Street Food is mussels. The concerning part is how you’ll see vendors standing with trays of mussels but without any way to keep them hot and fresh. To avoid food poisoning, stick to stores that clearly are keeping them hot. You can also try deep fried and battered with a garlic dip version.
Çiğ köfte is a vegan wrap made with ground bulgar wheat, tomato paste, walnut paste, pomegranate molasses and other spices. It’s a vegan version of what used to be a raw meatball. Food hygiene standards pushed vendors to get rid of the dangerous raw meat version and the new vegan alternative is a great replacement. Spicy and fresh and of course, healthy too. An ideal vegetarian food in Istanbul.
Pilav (or Pilaf, or Pilau, or plov) is a staple rice dish found everywhere from eastern Europe to Western China. It’s a slow cooked rice dish that oozes umami. Street stalls all over Istanbul serve it with chicken, chickpeas and other toppings, always with the rice piled high in a glass showcase.
KOKOREÇ, OFFAL KEBAB
A favourite amongst the locals, Kokoreç is an offal kebab, wrapped in intestines and cooked until crispy on the outside on a horizontal rotisserie.
The world of meze (appetizers) is wide and varied and some of favorites include fava (mashed broad beans), köpoğlu (fried eggplant cubes with a yogurt and tomato sauce), muhammara (dip made from red pepper paste, walnuts, lemon juice, and pomegranate molasses).