Istanbul is a fantastic place to visit and an even better place to eat. With a variety of cuisines from Turkish to Tex-Mex, you can enjoy just about any kind of street food in Istanbul. Whether you are looking for kumpir, durum, a taco, or a burger, you will not have to go far to find street food in Istanbul.
The offerings are both delicious and diverse, and you can find a variety on the streets being served from a cart, a food stand on the corners, or even in some restaurants. In fact, you can get all sorts of dishes from a Turkish breakfast to coffee beans at the fish market at the Grand Bazaar or Spice Bazaar.
Because Istanbul has the best street food, many restaurants carry the most popular. Some of the Turkish street food you can find include lahmacun (Turkish pizza), doner kebab (meat cooked on a horizontal spit), and tantuni, which is minced meat and vegetables in a wrap.
Another favorite street food is stuffed mussels, which you can find just about anywhere. Also known as Midye Dolma, stuffed mussels are a traditional street food you can get from street carts and restaurants. Enjoyed with a cup of Turkish coffee or Turkish tea, this is one of the most popular dishes in the city.
The wet burger is a popular street food served with grilled corn from one of the street vendors or restaurants. This is a small burger kept in a warm steamer until ready to serve so you always get a moist and delicious snack. In fact, this is the most popular street food in Istanbul. Get it with fries or even some roasted chestnuts and a glass of Turkish tea.
Any kind of street food in Istanbul is bound to be delicious whether you get traditional Turkish meals or international cuisine. From the fish sandwich made with grilled fish to the Turkish ice cream that everyone loves, you cannot go wrong with Turkish street food in Istanbul.
Foodie tip: Keep your hands free so that you can try as much food as you can eat! Take advantage of luggage storage in Istanbul, stowing your shopping purchases and large bags, to be picked up later when you are done.
The Best Street Food Vendors in Istanbul
Basta Street Food Bar
This is one of the best places to grab any kind of delicious street food whether you want kuzu lamb burgers, durum (grilled meat in a wrap), or stuffed mussels. Located on Sakiz Sokak, a few blocks from Derince Port, the view from here is stunning and it is a perfect place for cheap street food.
If you want to eat something tasty, from stuffed mussels to a fish sandwich, the prices at Basta Street Food Bar make it easy to get as much as you want. That means you can try all the eats you want in one spot.
Whether you are on your way up the Galata Tower or across the Galata Bridge, stop at Galata Simitcisi for some street food and Turkish coffee to give you that extra boost of energy. A simit is a large baked dough ring similar to a bagel but much bigger. Many call it a Turkish bagel.
This is one of those places that is always there and serves the best simit that tastes good no matter whether it is warm or cold. They make this Istanbul street food in a large wood-burning oven and coat it with sesame seeds for a nice crispy outside and tender soft inside. The delicious food you get here will make you want to come back later.
If you want to try Istanbul street food, head to Taksim Square. The wet burgers (or Islak Burgers) are the most famous street food in Istanbul and at street food prices, you can afford to get a few of them. That is a good idea too because these are small burgers.
Soaked buns doused with onion and tomato sauce steamed in glass cases, you can get one for a dollar or less, 24 hours a day from Kizilkayalar on the southwestern corner of Taksim Square. Grab a handful of roasted chestnuts for a side and a cup of steaming Turkish tea to go with them.
Super Mario Balik Istanbul
The name may remind you of the Nintendo game, but this small shop serves the best balik ekmek (freshly grilled fish sandwich) in the city. It is one of the best places to get street foods in Istanbul and you will find several street stalls all over the city.
The fish is cooked right in front of you so you know it is fresh and they serve it on Turkish bread with a bit of lemon juice and Russian salad dressing on top. Here you get iconic street food at low prices that are always served with a smile.
Akin Balik Karakoy
There is nothing better than eating your favorite Istanbul street food on the waterfront. Akin Balik Karakoy is right on the banks of the Golden Horn where you can pull up a chair and enjoy some of the best Istanbul edibles in the city. Try the simit with clotted cream and honey.
Akin Balik is well-known as one of the best street food places for midye dolma (stuffed mussels). You can have fried mussels if you are not into the raw food thing but either way, this is the best food in town. You can also get a steamed burger or grilled mackerel here.
Just outside their restaurant on Istiklal Street in Kabatas, you can find the best icli kofte (stuffed meatballs) in Turkey. These tasty morsels are basically ground meat with tomato paste and sautéed pine nuts coated in a delicious breading and fried in olive oil. They are incredibly filling.
Besides the icli kofte, you can also find a doner kebab served with beef, chicken, or pork. The street vendor also has fried mussels, fish sandwiches, and chili peppers on the side. You may even get a baked potato and boiled corn. And what they don't have outside, you can get in the restaurant. If the family has been partaking in fun things to do with kids in Istanbul, bring them here afterward to fill up on delicious food.
Located in Galata by the Galata Bridge, Dunya Doner serves a doner kebab better than any doner shop in Istanbul. In fact, they have more than 20 locations around Turkey so you know they are doing it right. In fact, Dunya Doner has their own farms where they get the beef, chicken, and pork for each doner kebab.
If you are not a fan of the doner kebab, try a scrumptious Turkish burrito, a tasty steamed burger, and all kinds of baked potatoes. All this is within walking distance of some of the best attractions you cannot miss when you visit Istanbul.
Where to Find the Best Istanbul Street Food Spots
For the most delicious food in Istanbul, check the waterfronts. Whether it is the Black Sea or the Golden Horn, you will find great food along the water. It is the perfect place to enjoy seafood fresh from the waters of the sea.
The Kadikoy area has a plethora of street food spots. Many of these are near tourist traps like the Moda Pier where you can find Koko Seafood, Pizza Locale for Turkish pizza, and Pasli Pelikan for any kind of Istanbul street food.
Emaar Square Mall
Are you out and about shopping? Where can you go for the most diverse choices of cuisines in Istanbul? Emaar Square Mall has 51 different eateries from kiosks to fine dining. Located in Uskudar near Buhara Park and the Science Center, this place has more than 400 shops to peruse as well. With so many shops, you may not find time to eat.
However, whether you just want to grab a burger at Big Chefs, Burger King, or Carl's Junior or have a nice seated meal at the Galliard, they have something for everyone here. There is pasta at Paps Italian, chicken at KFC or Popeyes, doners at Usta Doner, and sweet treats at Vakko Patisserie Petit Four.
The Blue Mosque
Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, this famous attraction is loaded with restaurants, kiosks, and stalls selling all sorts of Turkish street foods, and street vendors walking around with sesame seed simits for sale. One of these is the Mesale Cafe which has almost 20 kinds of kebabs as well as live music.
You can also choose from a 22-page menu at Garden 1897, get fried rice and sushi at Chang Cheng, or eat whatever you like with a spectacular view at Grace Rooftop Restaurant. You cannot leave without dessert, so make sure you stop at Ottoman Ice Cream where you can get dondurma, a Turkish ice cream.
Street Food Festivals in Istanbul
Istanbul Street Food Festival
The most popular street food festival in Istanbul is aptly named the Istanbul Street Food Festival. You can usually find this festival on the first or second weekend of April in Macka Park. Visitors will enjoy live music, dancers, and a variety of different food vendors selling their treats.
From doner kebabs to Balik ekmek on white bread, this is where the Turkish people go to try all sorts of new dishes as well as the traditional well-loved ones. Hundreds, if not thousands of vendors abound during this fun fest with all the food you can imagine and then some.
International Coffee Festival
Turkish folks are picky about their coffee and it is some serious stuff. If you have never had Turkish coffee, try to make it to this festival in Kucukciftlik Park during the last week of September. They like it strong and thick, with coffee grounds mixed in. In fact, if you drink the last gulp, you will end up with a mouth full of grounds.
During this festival, you can also enjoy live music every day as well as a vast array of food trucks and kiosks selling delicious street food. In fact, some people do not go for the coffee at all. They just want some excellent street food all in a convenient place.
Istanbul Gastronomy Festival
During the final days of the year, the International Istanbul Gastronomy Festival is where you want to be if you like food. This is more than just street food though. Chefs from all over the world compete in 70 different categories for medals. And you get to sample it all.
At the Yenikapi Etkinlik Alani Event Venue at Yenikapi Park on the Sea of Marmara, visitors spend days trying various dishes. Some of the categories include the Boutique Cake Contest, Bread Buffet, Fish Display Plate, Petit Beurre, and the University Pizza Competition.
Turkish Street Food
During your stay in Istanbul, you will likely need to eat more than one meal so it is always good to get out and try the different choices. Whether you want to stroll along the water or delve into a plethora of delights at one of the malls, you will not be disappointed at what you find.
One thing you may have noticed is that locals enjoy drinking pickle juice. It is not just the juice in the pickle jar leftover. This is a pickle juice drink made with cabbage, pickled cucumber, and secret ingredients that make tursu suyu a super sour and tangy drink.