Istanbul Street Food

I just got back from a week in Istanbul, Turkey. It’s a sensual place, with all kinds of sounds, tastes, and smells, many of which come from the city’s street food vendors, who can be found selling cheap eats even in the city’s most upscale neighborhoods.


The number one food sold on the street in Istanbul is the simit, a delicious bagel-like bread that’s covered with sesame seeds. Because it’s dipped in molasses and water before being baked, the simit has a subtly sweet taste.

We ate simit for breakfast where they were served at our hotel with cheese and jelly, or any time we were walking around and felt hungry. We miss them!

Fresh pomegranate juice is everywhere. I first saw someone selling it as I was walking around the steep streets of the hip Beyoglu neighborhood. I immediately had to stop and get a glass. The straight juice is pretty tart, but the pure taste of the fruit comes through powerfully.

A lot of the pomegranate juice sellers also make fresh orange juice, a real treat.

Roasted kestane, or chestnuts, are rich and filling, a perfect treat for a wary new arrival to the city because they come wrapped in their own shells so you know you won’t get food poisoning. They cost somewhere between fifty cents and a dollar for a small bag. Chestnuts are used often in Turkish cuisine: I had chestnut ice cream, and a stew made with quince and chestnuts.

Other street foods that I didn’t get a chance to taste include roasted corn, baked potatoes with a big selection of toppings, mussels stuffed with rice, and something that looked like a savory rice porridge. I loved Turkish food, I hope to go back some time and taste more. Tasting the food really opened up some new coking ideas for me, and I love it when that happens!

5 thoughts on “Istanbul Street Food

  1. Your pics bring back great memories.  Freshly baked simits can't be beat. The only street food in Istanbul I wasn't thrilled about was the corn.  It was kind of flavorless.  Maybe I picked the wrong pushcart.  But the stuffed mussels made a great bar snack.  I suppose that's why the mussel vendors roam the bars at night with their trays.

  2. Hi Darrin,

    The corn didn’t look very exciting, so I never got around to trying
    it. The mussels, on the other hand, looked great but I was too scared
    to eat them on the street. Glad to hear they are delish!

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