15 Best Street Food in Istanbul & Where to Find It

If you’re looking for some of the best street food in Istanbul, you’ve come to the right place. Street food is one of the most affordable ways to eat, as well as a way to eat the most authentic dishes.

Contrary to what people might think, Turkish food is more than just kebabs – and in Istanbul, there’s its own unique cuisine that cannot be found anywhere else in the country, let alone in the world.

But what is the best street food in Istanbul? What dishes can you try and where can I find it? These are all good questions my friend, and in this guide, we’ll be telling you all you need to know about Turkish street food in Istanbul and where to find it.


Before you go running out into the streets with your stomach rumbling, hold on for just a second! It would be wise to get familiar with the types of Istanbul street food available, to know what to look for and what you might enjoy.

Let’s begin with a list of the most popular street food dishes in Istanbul. From light snacks to succulent desserts, these are the dishes to keep an eye out for…

1. Roasted Chesnuts (Kestane Kebab)

You find roasted chestnuts in many major cities around the world and they are a popular sweet street snack for tourists. They are quite nutritious and hearty, and since they grow in the nearby Mediterranean region, they are quite the delicacy in Istanbul.

They come with a delightful nutty taste (no surprises there) and a crunch that can satisfy even the most finicky eater. You will find chestnut carts in the main touristy areas such as around the Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet and along the promenade next to the Bosphorous in Eminönü.

2. Balık Ekmek (Fish Sandwich)

You might be thinking that a fish sandwich is just a fish sandwich, but we can honestly tell you that the fish sandwiches in Istanbul are so good we practically ate them daily.

A Balik Ekmet, or fish sandwich in English, is usually a fillet of mackerel that has been smoked or fried and then dosed in lemon juice before being nestled into a delicious soft bread roll.

This is a delightful snack that you’ll find in street food stalls along the Bosphorous in Eminönü. It’s also a really cheap snack, perfect for those traveling on a budget and looking for something affordable to fill their stomachs.

3. Stuffed Mussels (Midye Dolma)

Stuffed mussels, or Midye Dolma in Turkish, are perhaps our second favorite street food in Istanbul. It’s only the second because of the price – you usually pay per mussel and we’re greedy pigs who need a whole bunch to be full.

However, if you’re looking for a light snack then a handful of stuffed mussels should not go amiss.

Stuffed mussels tend to be a little bit sour because they are doused in lemon juice, but that’s all part of the fun! The mussels are filled with fragrant jasmine rice, pine nuts, tomatoes, and some herbs and spices, and then they’re boiled before they’re served with fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon.

4. Simit

You’ll find simit carts all over the city, from outside the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet to İstiklal Avenue. This circular bread, often called the Turkish bagel, is a popular snack that’s often served with honey or Nutella.

It looks like it would be sweet like a donut, but it has a very savory flavor. It’s often topped with roasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or left plain. The texture is crispy on the outside but soft in the middle.

Simit is a popular street food in Turkey, not just Istanbul, but it sometimes has other names in other cities.

5. Boiled and Grilled Corn

Just as it says on the tin, boiled or grilled corn is boiled or grilled corn, often topped with salt and spices. It can sometimes be boiled and sometimes barbequed, but either is delicious.

You’ll find people selling corn all over Istanbul but it’s primarily found in touristy areas such as where the ferries leave on the Bosphorous. It’s a healthy and light snack that is loved by locals and tourists.

6. Islak Burger (Wet Burger)

For those thinking a wet burger sounds unappetizing, don’t let the name fool you. They are more like sliders than sloppy burgers. It gets its name from the garlic tomato sauce that is drenched over a hamburger making them super soggy but also delicious.

Islak burgers are not only tasty but affordable too, since they are cheaper than your traditional fast food burgers. 

7. Turkish ice cream

In all seriousness, Turkish ice cream is mostly famous for the show that comes with it. You’ll never be able to buy ice cream without being tricked and tousled with by the seller, but that’s all part of the fun!

Hilarities aside, Turkish ice cream has a hard texture which makes it resistant to melting (ideal for those hot Turkish summers).

It’s also very thick and creamy because they use salep, a flour made from a purple orchid root, and mastic, which gives it a kind of chewiness. It comes in many flavors, from fruit flavors to standard vanilla and chocolate. Some of the most popular flavors are vanilla, pistachio, and chocolate.

8. İçli Köfte

If you’re looking for something meaty then kebabs are definitely the way to go in Istanbul. There are a ton of different types of kebabs that you can choose from at a local street food stall, but our favorite is the Icli Kofte.

This dish is made up of minced lamb that has been seasoned with salt, pepper, and lots of garlic. It’s then grilled on a skewer over an open flame until it’s perfectly cooked.

9. Börek 

Borek can be found all over the Balkans and any country with Ottoman influences. They are a layered pastry dish often filled with spinach or cheese and sometimes meat.

Despite being made with pastry, they often have a more chewy texture. It’s a common breakfast meal for the locals and is served in most bakeries. If you want to try this hearty street food in Istanbul make sure to head out early to get it while it’s fresh.

10. Dürüm

If you’re looking for something for a light lunch, then you should definitely try a dürüm. These are Turkish wraps that are often filled with donor meat and shredded lettuce.

They’re usually served hot from many street food stalls across the city, so they’re perfect for a quick snack.

11. Tantuni

Tantuni is delicious and incredibly popular street food. It’s made with julienned beef or lamb and then stir-fried on a sac, (a thin metal pan used for cooking at high temperatures) It’s then wrapped with chopped onions, tomatoes, and parsley.

Tantuni was first introduced in Mersin, but became popular in Istanbul in the 80s. It’s a very oily dish that was created to feed the poor, so you’ll find it’s pretty filling! You can find it pretty much everywhere in Istanbul as it’s loved by the locals as well as tourists.

12. Pilav

You’ll very often find street vendors selling bowls of rice, chicken and chickpeas from their carts in Istanbul.

This flavorful and aromatic dish is called Pilav, which is a type of rice that is usually steamed or boiled in a fragrant broth that creates a mouth-watering and buttery taste.

It’s the perfect hearty street food for those looking for something delectable and affordable.

13. Lahmacun

Lahmacun is a type of flatbread that originates from the Ottoman Empire. It’s often referred to as a Turkish pizza since it’s on a thin dough base, but it is often not topped with cheese.

Traditionally it’s made with ground beef, onions, parsley, and spices and then wrapped in a thin dough sheet. It’s then baked until it’s crispy and golden brown. It’s a delicious street food that’s also hearty and filling, perfect for a lunchtime meal.

14. Kokoreç

Kokorec is a grilled sheep’s intestine and is a popular street food amongst locals. It’s often chopped into bite-sized pieces and served with oregano, tomatoes, and red pepper. Sometimes it comes in sandwich form, but often it is also served on its own.

15. Döner Kebab

We’ve all heard of doner kebabs, and in Istanbul, they are some of the most popular street food.

The doner kebab is made from shredded pieces of rotisserie lamb or chicken and served in pita bread with a variety of toppings, the most common is yogurt. They’re all over the city but a popular place to get one is by Taksim Square.


When it comes to food safety in Turkey, street food is just as safe as eating in a restaurant. Street food sellers in Istanbul must have a permit and adhere to certain food hygiene requirements, which you can see displayed on their carts.

In very few cases, street food can be unsafe due to unclean facilities and unsanitary conditions. However, with a little common sense and by following some simple safety tips, like making sure the food is piping hot and washing your hands before you eat, you can rest assured that you’re consuming safe and clean street food in Istanbul.

A good tip for eating street food that is safe in Istanbul is to eat where the locals eat. If a place is busy, then it’s a good sign that the food is good to eat…and tasty!

You should also be wary of eating vegetables or salads, as you need to make sure that it’s been washed with bottled water. Although tap water is safe in Istanbul, when eating out it’s a good idea to make sure the water your chef uses is clean.

Likewise with getting ice cubes in drinks – if there’s a hole all the way through, it has been tested and it’s safe. If it’s one block and it has a cloudy surface, stay away!


This is the million-dollar question; are street food tours in Istanbul worth it? The short answer is, yes. If you are only in Istanbul for a few days, then it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make it around to see all the places we recommended to get street food because they are just too far away from each other.

A street food tour is a way for you to experience all the best dishes with a local guide to explain the history and how it’s made etc. You can also be sure that the vendors the tour guide takes you to are good, as they have been tried and tested beforehand.

A street food tour is ideal for anyone who is on a short visit to Istanbul or is worried about getting sick from street food.

We love the Taste of Two Continent Food Tour in Istanbul. It’s quite a long tour (~5 hours) but it takes tourists to both the European Side and Asian Side of Istanbul to try different types of cuisines that make up modern-day Turkish food!


If you’re traveling to Istanbul on a budget, you’ll be surprised at how inexpensive it can be to dine on street food. As well as there being so much to choose from, you nearly always pay less than you would in a restaurant (no table cover, right?).

The Turkish Lira is always fluctuating, so you’ll need to check the exchange rate before ordering. At the time we visited Istanbul (August 2023), the average cost of street food was around 90-120 Turkish Lira, which at the time was less than $3 – $4 USD. 

You can see why street food was practically all we ate!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You might also like