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Turkish street food

Although İstanbul isTurkey’s center of gastronomy with lots of local and international restaurants,street food is also very tasty! Throughout İstanbul and the rest of Turkey,street food culture is a pervasive and common thread of everyday life. Fromsnacks to full meals, it’s easy to grab something delicious on the streets ofTurkey.

Turkish people come from a nomadic background, andthis is one of the main reasons why street food culture is extremely rich andpopular all across the country.

While different street food is popular in differentregions, the most popular (like simit) can be found nearlyeverywhere in Turkey. So, if you are in a rush, or just want to enjoy thevibrant street life in the cities across Turkey, stop and grab a deliciouslocal snack.

Here is a list of some of the most popular streetfoods in Turkey.

  •     Simit: Freshly baked, molasses-dipped, and sesame-crusted dough. It is a staple of breakfasts on the go. Even day-old simit has its use as seagull feed.
  •     Sokak poğaçası: Palm-sized buns with or without filling. It can also be found in bakeries.
  •     Süt mısır: Boiled corn, served with salt.
  •     Grilled corn on the cob: Turkish for maize, mısır is corn on the cob that is steamed, then lightly grilled and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and other spices. Often a summer staple coinciding with the region´s growing season, mısır is a travel-friendly snack sold by vendors lining the bridge atop the Bosphorus.
  •     Kumpir: The ultimate baked potato with a great variety of toppings to choose from: kaşar cheese, sausage, corn, Olivier (or Russian) salad, pickled red cabbage, olives, ketchup and/or mayonnaise as a dressing… Ortaköy is the most popular area in the city to eat it.
  •     Balık-ekmek: A popular fish sandwich that can be enjoyed near Karaköy or Eminönü shore.
  •     Döner: The basics remain the same: pieces of meat are seasoned with suet, local herbs, and spices, skewered on a spit and grilled vertically. Originally the meat used for döner kebap was lamb. Today, in İstanbul, it is made using a mixture of lamb and beef, only beef, or even only chicken.
  •     Kestane kebap: Roasted chestnuts are sold on the streets for those who would like to enjoy them by peeling off the shell when still warm during cold days.
  •     Midye dolma: “Stuffed mussels” is a generic name for plump orange mussels, stuffed with herbed and spiced aromatic rice, and occasionally currants. It is a popular street food snack in İstanbul and İzmir.
  •     Kokoreç: Spiced and skewered sheep’s intestines, served in either half or quarter of a bread loaf with plenty of grease and salt to go with.
  •     Tavuklu pilav: Rice with shreds of chicken and/or cooked chickpeas. It’s easy to spot the men selling it in glass-covered carts around town.
  •     Islak hamburger: The simple burger is packed with garlicky flavor and buttery tomato sauce which provides the succulent texture and the spongy buns.
  •     Çiğ köfte dürüm: This is a food comprised of bulgur patties wrapped in paper-thin lavaş bread.
  •     Lahmacun: Lahmacun consists of a thin, crispy dough spread with spicy minced lamb, and is often eaten with parsley and lemon. 
  •     Tantuni: This beef-and-tomato mixture is cooked on a large sizzling metal skillet and then wrapped in a very thin flatbread.
  •     Börek: Street börek is usually made with cheese and provides a quick and delicious breakfast when you are on the go. 
  •     Kağıt helva: This sweet consists of a crispy wafer stuffed with a sweet, condensed milk filling.


The culture of street food is like a gold mine inTurkey. In each city, you can encounter street flavors that are unique to theregion and that can appeal to everyone´s palate. Here are 10 of Turkey’sstrongest and most popular street food choices that promise mouthwateringtastes to satisfy your cravings.


This richly crunchy sesame bagel is a well-known heroamongst the preferred flavors of Turkey. The freshly baked ones can really turnyour head. It is a known fact that the locals have a hard time resisting thesmell of this street delight. Simit is a round-shaped bagel-like bread coveredwith sesame seeds. It can be eaten on its own or with cheese and a cup of tea.Many enjoy it with a glass of ayran, a very popular salted yogurt drink, in theafternoons. It’s also popular as it is budget- and vegan-friendly. In İstanbul,many people share this delicious snack with seagulls as they cross theBosphorus on the ferry.

Fresh Fish Sandwiches

This might sound controversial to some; however, it isa fact that fish sandwiches are one of the most popular street foods in Turkey.The appealing smell of a fresh loaf with warm, grilled fish, fresh greens, andonions invites passersby. It´s very affordable, nutritional, and tasty, and itstaste lingers in your mouth.


A delicious street delight that heralds the beginningof winter. The roasted chestnut has no other taste like it. It is strong enoughto make you turn and head straight for the chestnuts being slowly roasted overcharcoal. When winter comes, it’s possible to find a chestnut seller on everycorner in almost every city in Turkey.


Tantuni is originally from Mersin but it is possibleto come across this super tasty snack just about everywhere in Turkey. Tantunisare made from a unique combination of chopped meat with parsley, tomatoes,green peppers, and onions, wrapped into a warm flatbread or sandwiched betweenhalf a loaf fresh white bread. This is the perfect way to fill up your bellyfast! Many like to accompany it with şalgam, a spicy turnip drink, and a sideorder of pickles.

Stuffed Mussels

Another irresistible street food! You can often findstuffed mussels, which are more of a snack than a meal, in coastal areas.Stuffed mussels are made with a special kind of rice, chopped onions, currants,salt, spices, and lemon. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself at the side ofa counter in the street, squeezing a lot of lemon on the mussel in your hand.Once you start, you might not be able to stop! The flavors are addictive. Manylocals have been known to eat as many as 100 in one go!

Baked Potatoes

Are you one of those people who love all kinds ofpotatoes? If so, you shouldn’t miss the baked potatoes sold on the streets ofTurkey. Without a doubt, these delicious snacks are a major contribution to themany way of eating potatoes. Following the addition of butter, you are facedwith a mountain of choices for further toppings. There’s no limit to how manyyou can pile on top! Toppings range from sausages to pickles, sweetcorn toolives. It’s guaranteed you’ll come back time and time again to try a differentcombination of flavors.

Chicken with Rice

If you are in a hurry and looking for a grab-and-go, aplate of chicken & rice can be a great option. Chicken & rice is simplymade by putting boiled chicken pieces on top of plain rice, a companion ofclassical Turkish cuisine. Boiled chickpeas are also added to this unique duo.A great accompaniment is a glass of ayran and a plate of pickles.

Çiğ Köfte - Bulgur Patties

Kneading bulgur with onions, garlic, and variousspices forms a beautiful delicacy: çiğ köfte, or bulgurpatties! It’s an unforgettable treat on the streets of Turkey. It can be eatenalone or wrapped in thin lavaş bread with fresh greens. Afficionados often addlots of lemon and pomegranate syrup and accompany it with ayran. Çiğ köfte canbe found almost everywhere in Turkey. Traditionally this dish was prepared withraw meat, but this is rarely the case any longer. However, if you areconcerned, don’t hesitate to ask!

Fresh Almonds on Ice

One of the best and most refreshing street snacks,especially in the overwhelming heat. Fresh almonds are boiled or blanched inhot water, then peeled and served on ice. Vendors usually stop and offer theirwares to customers at tables in bars and restaurants. This fresh snack is astreet food you will encounter in many streets while you are walking in theevening.


Pickles, which started to gain importance in Ottomancuisine in the 15th century, are a street food that is intricately linked withtradition. Şalgam, a turnip drink, is a delicious and bold flavor, and is soldin glasses with small pieces of chopped pickles. This unique taste will get youaddicted fast! It has a salty and sour taste, and can be found easily at mobilestalls, in bazaars, and markets.