Local Cuisine You Must Try in Istanbul
Collected by Leeann Murphy, AFAR Local Expert
Don’t leave Istanbul without trying the most delicious local cuisine and refreshments, which have been influenced by Turkey's historical eras, peoples, rituals, and fertile lands. Sample menus of fresh mezes, Ottoman cuisine, regional kebabs, and local desserts, and wash it all down with drinks such as Turkish tea and hazelnut-flavored coffee. Will you come back for more? The answer lies in a Turkish coffee reading (fal) offered by Istanbul’s eager fortune tellers in Taksim!
Mahallesi, Simitçi Şakir Sk. No:16, 34080 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Are you a coffee lover or foodie searching for a unique Turkish culinary experience? Then after a satisfying meal in Turkey ask your waiter if they serve "menengiç" coffee from South Eastern Turkey. Menengiç is a pistachio-flavored caffeine-free...
Gümüşsuyu Mahallesi, 34437 Beyoğlu/Istanbul, Turkey
Warm, fragrant, and filling, these borek are typical Turkish quick eats. They can be stuffed with either ground spiced meat (occasionally with black currents and/or pine nuts) or a cheese and parsley mix. They are enjoyed best fresh out of the...
Sinanpaşa Mahallesi, Köyiçi Meydanı Sk., 34353 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
One of my favorite foods in Turkey (and there are many) is a serving of fresh kaymak clotted cream, drizzled with honey, and spread on bread. You can buy it in the supermarket or find it in some breakfast spots, but everyone's favorite is Pando in...
Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Erzak Ambarı Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Smaller than the Grand Bazaar but more intense, the Spice Market is equal parts tourist trap and necessary shopping stop for cooks and foodies. Meet the original spice girl at Ucuzcular (remember Area 51 to find her booth), one of the few...
Caferağa Mahallesi, Moda Cd. No:166, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Turkey
A cross between baklava and a croissant, katmer is a sweet, airy, pistachio-drenched Turkish breakfast pastry guaranteed to give you a sugar high that will last the whole day. Made from sheets of thin phyllo dough, kaymak (clotted cream), sugar,...
Teşvikiye, Vali Konağı Cd. No:40, 34365 Şişli/İstanbul, Turkey
If you’re keen to experience the medieval practice of "kahve falı" or "fal" (fortune telling with Turkish coffee) then make an appointment at Symbol Café in Nişantaşı with Tunc, one of the few English-speaking coffee readers in the city. Once...
Yıldız Mh., Çırağan Cd. No:32, 34349 Beşiktaş/İstanbul, Turkey
The five-star Çırağan Palace Kempinski Hotel, right on the Bosphorus near Ortakoy, boasts some the most expensive and elegant hotel rooms in town. A-listers swoon to stay here to make the most of the hotel's luxurious offerings all housed in the...
Rüstem Paşa Mah Tahmis Caddesi, Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Kalçin Sk. No:11, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
The best spot for kebaps and kunefe with a view is Hamdi Restaurant. An easy walk from Rustem Pasa, across from the New Mosque, downhill from the Grand Bazaar and a stone’s throw from the Spice Bazaar, Hamdi’s view sweeps the Golden Horn with the...
İskenderpaşa Mahallesi, 34096 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
Don't let looks deceive you. If you enjoy food with a bite of chili then try one of South Eastern Turkey's favourite "fast food" specialties: Etsiz Çiğ Köfte (no meat raw köfte). The traditional way of making the köfte is with raw meat (Çiğ...
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