You will find in this guide top 5 foods to try when you’re in Istanbul. Let’s start!
Istanbul is one of the greatest cities in the world, known for its history, its beauty, its spiritualism, and of course its cuisine. Whether you’re in town for a month, a year, a day, or just a couple of hours – there are some eats you have try as you discover the city.
Tips of the Trade: If you’ve got a short layover, using iGA’s Meet&Greet that comes with a premium packet is a way to get out the door quickly with a personal touch, some advice, and someone there to literally take the load off.
1. Balik Ekmek
Maybe the first snack Istanbul is best known for is Balik-Ekmek, which literally translates to “Fish Bread.” It sounds simpler than a “fish sandwich” would be, and that’s because it is! Balik Ekmek is simply a freshly caught fish placed inside freshly baked bread with some diced onions, a tomato and maybe some lettuce to bring out the flavor of the fish. It’s incredible, and most famous in the district of Eminönü, but you’ll find it sold up and down the Bosphorus.
Another dish that done right is unbelievable and done wrong would – one assumes – be inedible. Luckily in Istanbul you’ll only ever find Kokoreç (sweetbreads wrapped in thoroughly cleaned lamb intestines) roasted on burning embers of coal and spiced with a dizzying array of Turkish spices, just as it should be.
Who knew that baked potatoes would be perfect vehicle for the millions of different topping choices you have at your disposal at kumpir stands, most famous in Istanbul’s Ortaköy district. But the perfect kumpir with cheese and cream and the toppings of your choice are like nothing else.
4. Midye Dolma
Fresh mussels stuffed with aromatic rice, spices and herbs sounds (and tastes!) more like what you’d find in a 5-star restaurant than on the street – but welcome to Istanbul, you can have a baker’s dozen to eat right then and there! Sold all over the city and particularly near the Bosphorus, midye dolma is a delicacy like no other.
We’ve saved the best for last, with the quintessential street bread that’s always served fresh out the oven. It’s dough dipped in Turkish pekmez – slow boiled fruit that turns syrupy and sweet and gooey and amazing – before coated with sesame seeds that stick to the pekmez. Have it at every meal, have it as a meal, have it with tea. You can never have too much simit in Istanbul!
Final note: If you’re layover’s too short to try it all, not to worry! IGA’s lounge has everything so you can try a bite here and a bite there to give you a real taste of the city before you board your next flight. IGA Premium packet gets you lounge access, Meet&Greet, Buggy Services in the airport, and more so that you have more time to focus on getting to know this amazing city.