Fragrant dishes: an abundance of meat dishes, seafood, vegetables, sweets, pastries – this is Turkish cuisine that strikes the taste buds of the most fastidious gourmet. According to TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA, the cuisine of the country, located on the border of Europe and Asia, reflects the mixture of cultures of the West and East. Let’s take a short gastronomic tour to Istanbul and find out, based on the reviews of tourists, what to try and how much food costs in Turkey.
What to eat in Istanbul
Holidays in Istanbul cannot be imagined without tasting traditional dishes and local culinary masterpieces. You can find delicious food for different wallets by visiting restaurants, inexpensive cafes, locants, kebabs or street shops. National cuisine includes so many popular dishes that it is impossible to list them all. But, there is something that you must definitely try in Istanbul and create your first impression of Turkish gastronomy:
- Potato kumpir.
- Bagel simit.
- Wet burgers.
- Mussels with pilaf.
Street food in Istanbul
From the rich assortment of local dishes, food stands out, which is sold outdoors and is available at any time of the day or night.
Street food in Istanbul is varied. Here you can find seafood, sweets, juicy meat with vegetables, traditional Turkish pastries and many other dishes that you can enjoy in between exploring the original beauties of the city. If you are in doubt where and what to try in Istanbul from food, pay attention to the establishments where the locals eat: this is a sure sign that it will be tasty and inexpensive here.
Wet Burger in Istanbul
For more than 50 years, it has been one of the most sought-after snacks sold at night in Taksim Square. This dish became famous after the release of the Eagle and Tails program, which attracted the attention of tourists from the CIS countries to it. Despite the uncomplicated name, the cooking recipe is not so simple: the bun is constantly steamed in a special device, then tomato sauce, pickled cucumber and cutlet are put inside. The price for a soft and juicy burger is 6-7 Turkish lira.
Delicious food in Istanbul is impossible without this dish. For its preparation, only oval-shaped root crops are used. Potatoes are baked in foil, cut, mixing the pulp with butter, cheese and various toppings (chopped olives, pickled cucumber, green peas, corn, lettuce, sauce, ketchup). The price depends on the number of fillings and varies from 25 to 30 lire. On Istiklal, you can try this dish in any street cafe, and you can choose the filling yourself by pointing your finger at the one you want.
Fish in lavash in Istanbul
Another proof of the authenticity of Turkish street food in Istanbul. The dish is considered a symbol of the country. Initially, fried fish was spread on half a bun, seasoned with onions and lettuce. Today, another option has become popular – thin pita bread has replaced the bun. A dish with the perfect combination of fried mackerel and spicy sauce is sold in the Galata Bridge area, on boats at Eminonu Pier and at the Karakoy Fish Market. Such shawarma with fish in Istanbul, with its juiciness and bright taste of spices, evokes enthusiastic responses from vacationers.
Be sure to try this dish and it is possible that it will be included in your daily diet upon returning home.
- with a bun – 15 lire ;
- with thin lavash – 20-25 lire.
What to eat in Istanbul for breakfast quickly? For many city dwellers, this is the best snack. Everywhere on the streets of the city there are red carts with pastries sprinkled with sesame seeds. The main secret of impeccable taste lies in freshness, so it is better to buy a bun in the morning. Experienced travelers recommend buying fresh pastries in the side alleys of the main streets at the bakery or in the popular fast food chain Simit Sarayi.
The price for an empty simit is from 4.5 lira, with a filling – 8-9 lira.
Pilav with chickpeas
This dish belongs to the nighttime street food in Turkey. Cart boxes are everywhere. In fact, this is an analogue of the familiar pilaf, but with the addition of soaked, boiled in advance, chickpeas and chopped chicken breast.
The price of a dish is 5-10 liras per serving.
Roasted chestnuts and corn
It is impossible to imagine the winter streets of the city without the smell of roasted chestnuts. They taste like baked potatoes. They are fried on a burner and put into a small package, the price of which starts from 10 liras.
Corn is sold from late spring to mid-autumn, both boiled and grilled. The price for one piece is 4 lira.
Orange and pomegranate juices are distinguished from drinks, which are ideally prepared in kiosks located at the end of Istiklal Street from the side of the Tunel entrance to the Galata Tower. Depending on the fruit used, the price varies from 3 to 6 lire.
Try the refreshing, tasty and healthy ayran, which is made from natural yogurt, diluted and whisked with water and salt at the same time. This non-alcoholic, cool fermented milk drink is consumed with all meals, and the locals talk about it not only as a thirst quencher, but also as a health benefit.
Prices for street food in Istanbul will be higher in the tourist areas of Sultanahmet, Istiklal Street. But if you decide to go for a tour of the Asian part of the city through the Bosphorus, the cost for the same dishes here will be exactly lower.
Prices in cafes and restaurants in Istanbul
The presence of a large number of good establishments solves the problem of where to eat in Istanbul. Moreover, the cuisine in Istanbul is really diverse.
To ensure that the average check in Istanbul in a cafe / restaurant is not exorbitant, and the food is tasty and fresh, read the reviews of tourists before visiting the establishment you are interested in. We offer several proven places where you can eat tasty and inexpensive.
Bursa Kebapcisi Iskender ( https://goo.gl/maps/hfzqos7YVA7j33ff8 ) is a cafe with good service, a convenient location near Istiklal Street and traditional Turkish sweets.
Here you can try the delicious Iskander Kebab, a dish from northwestern Turkey that is on the list of must-eat in Istanbul. Doner kebab is made from thinly sliced grilled lamb, placed in pita bread, doused with spicy tomato sauce, ghee made from sheep’s milk and yogurt. The dish is very large, and its cost is about 34 lire.
Walking along Istiklal, do not be too lazy to turn onto one of the adjacent streets to the small cafe Falafel Koy ( https://g.page/Falafel-vilage?share ). This nondescript establishment is famous for its falafel (deep-fried pea meatballs). It has good value for money, friendly service and a wide range of vegetarian options. The cost of falafel is about 10 lira.
The cuisine of Istanbul is represented by a huge number of fish dishes that are served in local cafes and restaurants. Visit the fish market from the Karaköy side. This, according to many tourists, is an excellent place for tasting fish dishes. Here, in a simple setting, sitting at a table along the shore, everyone can taste the fish, which is fried right there.
If you are staying in the old part of the city and don’t know where to eat deliciously in Istanbul in the Sultanahmet district, pay attention to the Sultanahmet köftecesi, Çiğdem Pastanesi, Antik Cafe Gülhane cafes located near Gulhane Park. Small cozy establishments will appeal to those who do not pursue a chic interior and European menu.
Food prices in Istanbul
The basis of Turkish cuisine is: bread, meat, rice, sweets. As a rule, this is heavy food, however, in order to understand and appreciate the national cuisine, sometimes you can move away from the canons and allow yourself something more.
The cost of food in Istanbul is indicated in lira (1 Turkish lira – 5.77 rubles or 2.12 UAH). The city has many grocery and vegetable shops, large shopping centers. Food prices in Istanbul 2022 are almost unchanged when compared to last year. So, for example, in supermarkets, coffee prices are good (500 grams – 10.50 lira), and oriental sweets can be bought in specialized stores and on the market. Depending on the composition and weight, the price ranges from 6 to 19 lire.
If you want to buy sweets, dried fruits, spices or coffee for yourself or as a gift, visit the Egyptian Bazaar ( https://goo.gl/maps/An8NyTZsPrLXxTuWA ) in the old city, which has over 80 shops. We recommend shopping on street rows, as prices here are not lower than in closed pavilions.
Here you can buy the famous Turkish coffee by weight in the Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi shop ( https://goo.gl/maps/ZaUJ8adWM2xstotc7 ), where locals and tourists usually line up.
Not only on this, but also like on any other oriental market, it is worth haggling here. Easily and naturally ask for a discount on a purchase, and the price of a product can be reduced by 2-3 times.
Approximate prices in a cafe on the waterfront
- Standard breakfast – 19 lira.
- Omelette – 8 lira.
- Lula kebab – from 18 lira.
- Seafood dishes – from 25 lira.
- Coffee – 6 lira.
- Desserts – from 8 lira.
We advise you to choose those establishments in which there are many visitors and there are no “barkers”, since cafes and restaurants with high attendance and an excellent reputation do not need advertising.
If we talk in general about the cost of food in Istanbul, then it can be compared with the average European (in some regions even lower). Note that local price lists, whether street or restaurant food, are almost independent of seasonality. Prices for food in Istanbul depend on the place of purchase of products. So, it is better to buy vegetables and fruits at the market, and food products are cheaper in chain supermarkets. The most popular ones are Dia, Bim and Sok. They are located in every district of the city and are distinguished by low prices.
Food delivery services operate in the country. Through the Yemeksepeti application, you can place an order to any region of the city. The dishes are described in Turkish, many of them without photos, but if you know the name in Turkish, then ordering them will not be any problem. Such a service was especially in demand when it was forbidden to visit cafes and restaurants in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. After the application, in 30-40 minutes the order will be delivered to the address at the specified time.
Where to eat tasty and inexpensive in Istanbul
Walking around the city, everyone will find for themselves the institution that will appeal to them. But if you don’t want to experiment and are used to trusting the reviews of tourists who repeatedly visit Turkey, we recommend adding a couple more places to your must-have list where you can eat tasty and cheap.
It could be Tarihi Sultanahmet Köftecisi Selim Usta ( https://goo.gl/maps/cG6bqAaSeK4wJykb9 ) near the Blue Mosque with Turkish cuisine serving lentil soup, turkey meatballs, tender pudding and delicious wine.
The Beyoglu Halk Doner buffet chain, located throughout the city, is a good place to eat inexpensively in Istanbul. These are self-service establishments in which the average check for lunch is 90 lira for two. One of them is located on the busiest Istiklal street, so it is impossible not to notice it.
Prices for food in cafes and restaurants in Istanbul vary. Budget option – traditional locants like Beyoglu Halk Doner. They sell ready-made dishes that are stored in special heated dishes. Some local cafes close to attractions offer a fixed dinner, which averages 30 TL. But keep in mind that in institutions located in the tourist centers of the city, the average check for lunch or dinner will be higher.
The many-sided Istanbul is exactly the place where it is better to relax in Turkey if you want to get to know the culture, life and traditions of the local population better. A gastronomic journey will be another way to get to know this city better.