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Types of Foods Found in Istanbul, Turkey

Updated on October 13, 2014

Background of Turkish Cuisine

Turkey has a wide array of foods to choose from. Considered part of Europe, Turkey is situated with half of the country located on the European side and half on the Asian side. This significant location has made Turkey, more specifically Istanbul, a highly sought after location throughout the Ottoman Empire until modern times. With so many inhabitants, Turkish food has taken different qualities from Greek, Syrian, Asian, and many other cuisines.

Chronicles of an International Dreamer Trip to Istanbul

Testi Kebab- the performance occurring. The jar is about to be broken.
Testi Kebab- the performance occurring. The jar is about to be broken. | Source
The above results of Testi Kebab preparation.
The above results of Testi Kebab preparation. | Source
Turkish Bread- Hollow in the middle perfect to scoop up food, along with an order of dolma (Stuffed grape leaves with rice and beef)
Turkish Bread- Hollow in the middle perfect to scoop up food, along with an order of dolma (Stuffed grape leaves with rice and beef) | Source
Famous Turkish Tea (This particularly is Apple flavored)
Famous Turkish Tea (This particularly is Apple flavored) | Source
Simit, fresh from a cart on Istiklal Caddesi
Simit, fresh from a cart on Istiklal Caddesi | Source

Turkish Street Food : Istanbul

(CAUTION: Pay close attention to what you are eating. If it could spoil in the sun, watch where the cart is located. The last thing you want is to fly around the world just to become acquainted with the bathrooms of Istanbul)

  • Simit - This is a staple in the Turkish diet. It looks like an overly large donut Homer Simpson would love, but really it is the bagel of Turkey. When you walk through the streets in the morning, the sweet aroma will have you floating to the cheap (2-5 lira) breakfast on the go while you stroll the Galata Bridge or get ready for the Grand Bazaar.
  • ***Eat at your own risk*** Kokorec- This is on a HORIZONTAL skewer. This is actually quite an interesting dish of sheep intestines nicely spiced with Mediterranean spice, usually mixtures of cumin and coriander.
  • Kebab- This will be lamb or chicken on a VERTICAL skewer. This is nicely spiced and the aroma will have you floating in like a cartoon. Do not get this mixed up with the above mentioned Kokorec.
  • Kumpir-One of the best foods (and will have the taste of home added in) that can be overlooked after all of the options given to you. This dish is the ultimate, maxed out, most delicious baked potato that is bigger than your hand. It is filled with corn, mayonnaise salad, cheese, olives, mushrooms, and almost any other topping you can dream of (except ham and bacon of course, you are in an Islamic Country).


Food inundates Turkey. The restaurants near Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque are considered to be in the historic district. So these restaurants may cost more, but if you do go to one of these restaurants, make sure you try the traditional foods of Turkey.

For instance, try the Testi Kebab. This is a show within itself. Originating from the Cappadocia district, this is a mixture of meats and vegetables cooked in a clay pot over an open fire. The entire pot is brought to the table and broken in front of you, where all the delicious meats and juices flow out. Just take a chunk of famous Turkish bread and sop up the juices or eat over rice. This will be a sensory and savory experience.

Seafood!!!

  • Situated on the Bosophorous Straight, with access to so many different types of sea life, seafood is a must. The fish will tend to be served with the head still attached (so beware if you are not used to this); however, smoking shisha (tobacco from a hookah) and eating fresh seafood while watching the many people shop and boats go up and down the straight will sure to delight.

Turkish tea/coffee

  • Finish your meal off with a nice cup of Turkish tea or coffee. The coffee will be very strong and remind you almost of sludge, but for those with coffee expertise it is amazing. Turkish tea is served in glasses that are small and hot to the touch, but the tea is spectacular and even comes in apple flavored (this author’s personal favorite, I would be such an American and order three cups of it, instead of savor the flavor). If you want a great gift to take home be sure to buy some of the tea at the Spice Bazaar. It’s cheap and easy to get through airports.

Istanbul, Turkey

Kumpir and Seafood

Yum! This is Kumpir.  This particular one has already been half eaten and there's still a ton to go! This was found at the subway stop at the beginning of Istkakil Caddesi.
Yum! This is Kumpir. This particular one has already been half eaten and there's still a ton to go! This was found at the subway stop at the beginning of Istkakil Caddesi. | Source
Fresh, literally right off the boat we were watching, fish while visiting the Prince's Islands.
Fresh, literally right off the boat we were watching, fish while visiting the Prince's Islands. | Source

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