Turkish street food
Although Türkiye’s culinary scene offers a vast selection of local and international restaurants, Turkish street food is also very tasty and fun! Throughout İstanbul and the rest of the country, street food culture is a pervasive and common thread of everyday life. From snacks to full meals, it’s always easy to grab something delicious on the streets of Türkiye.
While different street food is popular in different regions, the most popular street food, like simit, can be found nearly everywhere in Türkiye. So, if you are in a rush, or just want to enjoy the vibrant street life in the cities across Türkiye, stop and grab a delicious local snack!
Here is a quick guide to the most popular street eats in Türkiye.
Simit is a crunchy, circular bread covered with sesame seeds and a true legend among Türkiye’s favorite flavors. The taste of a freshly baked simit is something to savor and cherish. It is a known fact that the locals have a hard time resisting the delicious aroma of this street delight. 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 yoğurt drink, in the afternoons. It’s also popular as it is budget- and vegan-friendly. In İstanbul, many people share this delicious snack with seagulls as they cross the Bosphorus on the ferry.
Balık-ekmek is a popular fish sandwich and one of the most popular street foods in Türkiye, best enjoyed on the coasts of Karaköy or Eminönü in İstanbul. The appealing smell of a fresh loaf of bread with warm, grilled fish, fresh greens, and onions invites passersby. It's very affordable, nutritional, and tasty - and its taste lingers in your mouth!
Kumpir is the ultimate baked potato with a great variety of toppings. Without a doubt, this delicious snack is a major contribution to the many ways of eating potatoes. Following the addition of butter, you are faced with a mountain of choices for further toppings. There’s no limit to how many you can pile on top! Toppings range from sausage to pickles, sweetcorn to olives. It’s guaranteed you’ll come back, time and time again, to try a different combination of flavors. In Istanbul, Ortaköy is the most popular area in the city to enjoy this delicacy.
Döner is one of the most well-known Turkish foods in the world. Pieces of meat are seasoned with suet, local herbs, and spices, skewered on a spit and grilled vertically, served as dürüm (wrap) or as a sandwich. Originally the meat used for döner kebap was lamb. Today, it is made using a mixture of lamb and beef, only beef, or even only chicken.
Kestane kebap, or roasted chestnuts, are delicious street delights that herald the beginning of winter. Their smell is strong enough to make you turn and head straight for the chestnuts being slowly roasted over the embers. When winter comes, it’s possible to find a chestnut seller on every corner in almost every city of Türkiye.
Midye dolma are stuffed mussels, and are another irresistible street food that you can often find in coastal areas, especially in İstanbul and İzmir. The mussels are filled with a special kind of rice, chopped onions, currants, and spices. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself at the side of a 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. Many locals have been known to eat as many as 100 in one go!
Kokoreç is chargrilled skewered sheep’s intestines, served in either half or a quarter of a bread loaf with plenty of fat and salt. It’s the street food most enjoyed by dedicated offal lovers!
Tavuklu pilav can be a great option, if you are in a hurry and looking for a grab-and-go. It is simply made by putting boiled chicken pieces on top of plain rice pilaf, an indispensable side dish in classical Turkish cuisine. Boiled chickpeas are also added to this unique duo. A great accompaniment is a glass of ayran and a plate of pickles. It’s easy to spot vendors selling tavuklu pilav in glass-covered carts around town.
Turşu suyu (pickle juice) is delicious with its bold flavor, and is sold in glasses with small pieces of chopped pickles. This unique taste will get you addicted fast! It has a salty and sour taste, and can be found easily at mobile stalls, in bazaars, and markets.
Çiğ köfte dürüm is comprised of bulgur patties wrapped in paper-thin lavaş bread with fresh greens. Aficionados often add lots of lemon and pomegranate syrup, and accompany it with ayran. Çiğ köfte can be found almost everywhere in Türkiye. Traditionally, this dish used to be prepared with raw meat, but this is rarely the case any longer. However, if you are concerned, don’t hesitate to ask!
Lahmacun is a thin, crispy flatbread that has been spread with spicy minced lamb and baked in a stone oven. It is often eaten with parsley and lemon as a wrap.
Tantuni is originally from Mersin but it is possible to come across this super tasty snack just about everywhere in Türkiye. It is made from a unique combination of chopped meat and parsley, tomatoes, green peppers, and onions, wrapped into a warm flatbread or sandwiched between half a loaf of fresh white bread. Tantuni is the perfect way to fill up your belly fast! Many like to accompany tantuni with şalgam, a spicy fermented purple carrot and turnip drink and a side order of pickles.
Islak hamburger is a simple burger, packed with garlicky flavor, and covered in buttery tomato sauce which accounts for the succulent texture and the sponginess of the bun.
Mısır (corn) is a travel-friendly snack sold by street vendors, and is often a summer staple coinciding with the region's growing season. Köz mısır is corn on the cob that is grilled and süt mısır is boiled corn kernels - both are presented sprinkled with salt.
Börek is a flaky pastry, usually filled with cheese, and provides a quick and delicious breakfast when you are on the go.
Sokak poğaçası is a palm-sized bun with or without filling. It can also be found in bakeries.
Kağıt helva is a crispy wafer with a sweet filling made of condensed milk.
Buzlu badem (fresh almonds on ice) is one of the best and most refreshing street snacks, especially in the overwhelming summer heat. Fresh almonds are boiled or blanched in hot water, then peeled and served on ice. Vendors usually stop and offer their wares to customers at tables in bars and restaurants. This fresh snack is a street food you will encounter while walking along the city streets in the evening.