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Favourite Flavours of Istanbul

The city of Istanbul is a whirl of brightly coloured culture, mosques and churches sit alongside, extensive markets cover entire neighbourhoods, historic sites and museums are located across the city and ancient walls that once protected Constantinople still stand alongside the sea of Marmara, you can explore independently of with one of the Istanbul city tours. The city offers a range of comfortable accommodations, good public transport, and traditional restaurants. Turkish food is possibly some of the best in the world, here the best aspects of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East combine and Istanbul is an ideal place to taste some of these dishes.


Turkish Breakfast

 If you start your day with a typical Turkish breakfast then you’ll probably want to skip lunch. A buffet style breakfast is best shared, a basic spread usually includes, freshly baked white bread, eggs, green and black olives, cold meats, cheeses, tomatoes, cucumbers, fruits, borek, a savory pastry, jam, honey, tahin, pekmez, a syrupy spread made from grape molasses, butter and is usually served with black tea or fresh fruit juice.

Menemen is a lighter option, like an omelet, it is made by frying onion, peppers, tomatoes and sometimes Turkish sausage with eggs and spices.


Street foods

Street food is very popular with Istanbulites and tourists alike, with a variety of cheap savory food to eat on the go as you explore the city.

Simit is Turkey’s version of a bagel, it’s a slim bread ring coated with sesame seeds making it crusty outside but fluffy inside, street venders offer this quick snack all over the city and there are always portable stalls waiting about the Sultan Ahmet Square where you can find Hagia Sophia and Blue mosque, two of the city’s main attractions.

Balik-Ekmek (Fish Sandwich) is usually sold at the food market by the Kadikoy ferry port on Istanbul’s Asian side. This is a simple but delicious sandwich of grilled and breaded fish fillet, with grilled cheese, onion, pepper and lettuce topped with a squeeze of lemon and optional sauces. Balik-Ekmek is also sold in the areas on either side of Galata bridge and around Uskudar.

Kumpir, is a favourite in the Ortakoy neighbourhood. In fact, a whole street is dedicated to kumpir and waffle stalls. Enthusiast venders sell the oversized baked potato from the stalls with impressive selections of toppings including: cold meats, cheeses, olives, sauces, corn, salad and couscous, are piled alongside each other like an ice cream stall. You can grab your kumpir here and sit by the seaside to eat.

Midye Dolma is sold just about everywhere from street stalls in Taksim, a liberal area in Istanbul with bars, restaurants, and lively nightlife. Eaten from the shell, the muscle sits on a bed of spiced rice and a wedge of lemon.



Commonly served in traditional restaurants accompanied by wine or Turkish Raki, made from distilled grapes and aniseed, usually the waiter will come to your table with a tray of Meze (appetizers) so you can choose which you like directly from the tray, it’s quite a display! Cold appetizers are served first and hot appetizers come in the second round, there’s and endless list of Meze dishes but some of the most popular include: grilled eggplant salad, pinto beans, marinated, peppers, flatbread, stuffed vine leaves and grilled eggplant in yogurt. There are many places for Meze in the center of Istanbul, Sultan Ahmet district and it’s a dinner best enjoyed with good friends and conversation.


Boza is not to everyone’s taste, but it’s the thick dessert like drink with an unusual sweet and sour flavour, is traditional to Istanbul and the pleasant place to enjoy it is at Vefa Bozacisi. It’s a small family run cafe located between Grand Bazaar and the Istanbul University, with an old fashioned wooden interior, Vefa Bozacisi sells only Boza and serves mostly local customers. Boza is often topped with crunchy roasted chickpeas.


When you’ve finished with the savory dishes you should taste one of Turkey’s best desserts. Baklava is made from layers of filo pastry glued together with honey or syrup and topped with spices and chopped nuts. The dessert is baked on a large tray and divided into small pieces, colourful displays fill the windows of many sweet shops and cafes along the main street of Istanbul and some will offer tasters, be warned this sweet treat is irresistible!

Beyond Istanbul

The varied landscape and extreme temperature differences throughout the country mean that each region can have their own long list of traditional dishes; the Aegean Coast is rich in fruits, vegetables and olives, while Central Anatolia, which can be visited on an Istanbul to Cappadocia tour, claims the main grain production a tasty local dish includes Tarhana soup, made from flour, vegetables and fermented yoghurt. Dishes with bulgur cracked wheat similar to rice, are also typical to the region.

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