Turkey’s culinary landscape is rich and diverse in flavor and influences and its street food is no exception. Kebab and döner might be the most well-known street food from Turkey, but there is plenty of other options that go beyond the globally-recognized grilled meat. From bite-sized pastries to small meals, there is something for every appetite. Easy on the wallet and filling, the following are the most-consumed street food in Turkey, like “simit” (Turkish bagels), roasted chestnuts, gözleme etc.
Balık Ekmek (fish sandwich)
Istanbul fishermen have been catching fish in the Golden Horn. In the last 50 years, a tradition arose that sees freshly caught fish from the Marmara Sea cooked and sold on fishing boats. Eating a fish sandwich is a must if you visit Istanbul’s historic peninsula, which includes Eminönü.
Made of hand-rolled dough that is lightly brushed with eggs and butter and filled with various toppings, such as minced beef, chopped lamb, fresh or smoked seafood and vegetables (spinach, zucchini, eggplant, onion and potato or mushrooms and cheese), these delicious “fillings” are sprinkled onto the dough before the dough is closed up and fried.
Roasted chestnuts signal the cold days of winter. Dozens of streets sellers roast chestnuts and put them in a paper bag. The smell of roasted chestnuts will make you want to eat more and more.
Simit is a staple food item readily accessible to the public from town bakeries, simit wagons or men on the street that balance a massive tray on their heads. Simit is a nice starter for any day.
A midnight meal, kokoreç can be found on any street corner, though it is not a traditional meal on restaurant menus. Made from the intestines of lambs and cooked with a variety of spices and flavors, kokoreç is the sandwich of the night owl. It is cooked like döner over a charcoal fire, which gives it an extra rich taste.
Grilled & Boiled Corn
Many street sellers stand grilling ears of corn. Fried corn is very popular to eat while strolling down streets, along with boiled corn, which is put into a paper box and – according to your preference – you can add toppings, such as ketchup or red pepper.
Lahmacun is one of the most popular fast foods in Turkey. With thin-crispy dough and a delicious combination of minced meat, lamb or beef, mixed with fresh chopped onions, garlic, parsley, peppers and tomatoes, it qualifies as one of the healthier fast foods around. Also known as “Turkish pizza,” lahmacun is a unique combination of fresh ingredients and complimentary spices, including paprika, red pepper flakes and occasionally cinnamon.
Forget all the burgers you’ve seen in the past since you are about to meet a Turkish-style wet burger (sloppy joe), which is very delicious. In Taksim Square at the beginning of İstiklal Street, dozens of small takeaway shops sell wet burgers.
One of the most famous street foods in Istanbul is the baked potato, known as “kumpir” in Turkish. A huge baked potato is cut in half and filled with butter and cheese for the base. The seller then asks for your preferred filling – from a mind boggling range of ingredients, including corn, pickled red cabbage, pickles, Olivier salad, yogurt, jalapenos, olives, etc.
A widely consumed food in Turkey, yogurt is a main ingredient in nearly all dishes in Turkish cuisine. Istanbul’s Kanlıca neighborhood has been famous for creamy, tasty yogurt since 1893. Kanlıca yogurt has no additives and is good for the digestive system. Top your yogurt with honey, powdered sugar, jam or you can try plain Kanlıca yogurt.